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fall Smoky Mountain hiking trails

10 Fall Smoky Mountain Hiking Trails You Should Be Hiking Right Now

There is no questioning how beautiful fall in the Smoky Mountains is, however there is much debate on what the best way to view this natural beauty is. Should you experience the views from the comfort of your car, while visiting one of the area’s most popular attractions, or should you just go out and explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park?

At Auntie Belham’s Cabin Rentals, we don’t think anything beats experiencing the beauty of fall in the Smoky Mountains quite like spending the day enjoying a relaxing hike. That is why we have compiled a list of what we consider to be the absolute best fall Smoky Mountain hiking trails. You will find that the trails have been divided up by which part of the season is known to offer the most beautiful views.

Did your favorite trail make the list? Find out below!

Mid-Late October Fall Smoky Mountain Hikes

Rich Mountain Loop

If you love Cades Cove, but you hate the traffic that can often be found on the 11-mile loop road, then you will love hiking the Rich Mountain Loop Trail. Visitors here will be in awe by the breathtaking view of not only the fall Smoky Mountain foliage, but also the incredible views and rich history that is found here.

Trail Summary:

  • Location: Cades Cove/Townsend
  • Distance: 8.5 miles total
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Alum Cave

Great for beginner hikers, the Alum Cave trail is best known for the many interesting geological features found along the path. The cave that the trail is named after is actually a concave bluff, however by standing nearly 80 tall and 500 feet in length, it is still a sight to see. If you continue along this trail, you will eventually reach Mt. LeConte.

Please keep in mind, this is one of the most popular fall Smoky Mountain hiking trails, so you and your family may want to plan to visit this hike earlier in the day.

woman hiking in the Smoky Mountains fallTrail Summary:

  • Location: Newfound Gap
  • Distance: 4.4 miles total
  • Difficulty: Relatively easy


The name Bullhead refers to the shape that many people believe that the bald has when observed from a distance. The most interesting find on this trail, aside from the natural views of the Smoky Mountains, is the unique table of rocks that was assembled by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s. The Civilian Conservation Corps, commonly referred to as the CCC, is the group that was originally responsible for building all of the Smoky Mountains hiking trails that we know and love today.

Trail Summary:

  • Location: Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
  • Distance: 5.9 miles total
  • Difficulty: Moderately easy

Charlies Bunion

Beginning at the Newfound Gap parking area, the Charlies Bunion fall Smoky Mountain hiking trail offers some of the most incredible panoramic views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. To access this trail, hikers start off briefly hiking part of the Appalachian Trail, and eventually veer off to what becomes the Charlies Bunion trail.

Charlies Bunion was originally known as Fodderstack, but the name was later changed in honor of one of the early supporters of the national park, Charlie Conner.

Trail Summary:

  • Location: Clingmans Dome/Newfound Gap
  • Distance: 8.1 miles total
  • Difficulty: Moderately easy

close up on feet hiking in the Smoky MountainsLittle River Trail

What is unique about the Little River Trail is that the entire length of this fall Smoky Mountain trail runs alongside the scenic river of the same name. During this route, hikers will pass many historic cottages, beautiful plants and wildflowers, and eventually a waterfall called Huskey Branch Falls. At just over 20 feet in height, Huseky Branch Falls is not quite as big as the waterfall found on the Laurel Falls trail, but it is definitely a spectacular view in its own right.

Trail Summary:

  • Location: Elkmont
  • Distance: 4.9 miles total
  • Difficulty: Easy

Porters Creek Trail

The Porters Creek Trail is a very serene fall Smoky Mountain hiking trail. Following alongside an old gravel road, visitors to this hike will find several old stone walls and remains of the old Elbert Cantrall farmstead that was once one of the prominent homes of the Porters Creek community. The Ownby Cemetery is also found along this trail.

Trail Summary:

  • Location: Greenbrier
  • Distance: 4 miles total
  • Difficulty: Moderately easy

Early-November Fall Smoky Mountain Hikes

Meigs Mountain Trail

Meigs Mountain Trails is considered to be a quiet forest hike that takes guests on a scenic journey through the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This trail ends with hikers coming across remnants of an old dam that is considered to once keep milk and butter cool during the summer months for early settlers. Other theories behind the purpose of the dam include being used by early loggers as a way to transport logs down the river.

paved fall Smoky Mountain hiking trailTrail Summary:

  • Location: Elkmont
  • Distance: 4.6 miles total
  • Difficulty: Moderately easy

Schoolhouse Gap

Another peaceful forest hike, the Schoolhouse Gap trail allows guests to explore the beautiful seasonal colors while also avoiding the busy traffic that other trails may offer. One of our favorite features about this trail is how wide the path is, so it is great for people hiking in groups that want to enjoy a conversation while they explore.

Please keep in mind that during the warmer months this fall Smoky Mountain hiking trail is known to be the location of high bear activity. We at Auntie Belham’s Cabin Rentals want to encourage guests to always exercise caution when hiking in the Smoky Mountains because you never know when you are going to stumble across a momma bear and her cubs.

Trail Summary:

  • Location: Townsend/Cades Cove
  • Distance: 3.8 miles total
  • Difficulty: Easy

person lookingout at water on a fall Smoky Mountain hikeAbrams Falls

Last but not least, the Abrams Falls trail is also one of the most popular hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This trail features a scenic waterfall, gorgeous natural views and an exciting adventure.

During peak season, Abrams Falls is known to host upwards of 1,000 visitors a day.

Trail Summary:

  • Location: Cades Cove
  • Distance: 5 miles total
  • Difficulty: Moderately difficult

If you would like a nice and relaxing place to stay after spending the day exploring one of these picturesque fall Smoky Mountain hiking trails, be sure to check out the variety of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg cabin rentals offered by Auntie Belham’s. With cabins located both in the heart of downtown Gatlinburg and tucked away off the beaten path, we have a vacation rental that is sure to meet any guest or families needs.

To learn more about our Smoky Mountain cabin rentals and to begin planning your fall vacation, give us a call today!