Greenbrier Cove
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15 Secret Spots in the Smokies to Explore & Escape the Crowds

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, straddling the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, is renowned for its diverse wildlife, stunning landscapes, and rich cultural history.

While millions visit popular spots like Cades Cove, Clingmans Dome, and the Alum Cave Bluffs Trail each year, the park harbors several hidden gems that remain off the beaten path for most visitors. Here are 15 such treasures waiting to be discovered.

Spruce Flats Falls
Spruce Flats Falls | photo via the.pathfinders

Spruce Flats Falls

This relatively unknown waterfall is accessible via a moderate 2-mile round trip hike from the Tremont Institute. The trail isn’t officially listed on most park maps, which keeps the crowds away, making it a peaceful spot to enjoy the beauty of the falls.

Midnight Hole

A deep, mesmerizing pool on Big Creek, Midnight Hole is perfect for a refreshing dip on a hot day. It’s a bit of a hike to get there, but the secluded, crystal-clear waters are well worth the effort.

Greenbrier Cove
Greenbrier Cove | photo via kyvelvet

Greenbrier Cove

A quieter alternative to Cades Cove, Greenbrier Cove offers stunning wildflower displays in the spring and excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing without the crowds.

Cataloochee Valley

While more known than some spots on this list, Cataloochee Valley remains a relatively hidden gem due to its more remote location. It’s a great place to see elk in the wild, especially in the early morning or late evening.

Hen Wallow Falls
Hen Wallow Falls | photo via wemacksdiscover

Hen Wallow Falls

Accessed via the Gabes Mountain Trail, Hen Wallow Falls is a beautiful 90-foot-high waterfall. The hike is moderately challenging, but the reward is a stunning, secluded waterfall with fewer visitors than the park’s more famous falls.

The Jump Off

Offering one of the most spectacular views in the park, The Jump Off is a rocky outcropping near the Appalachian Trail. It’s a challenging hike to get there, but the panoramic views are unparalleled.

Ramsey Cascades
Ramsey Cascades | photo via rxhiker1963

Ramsey Cascades

While Ramsey Cascades is the tallest waterfall in the park, and the somewhat-known, strenuous hike to reach it deters many visitors. Those willing to make the 8-mile round trip are rewarded with incredible views of the cascades.

Little Cataloochee Trail

This trail offers a glimpse into the past, passing by old churches, homesteads, and cemeteries. It’s a fascinating, less-traveled path for those interested in the history of the park’s early settlers.

Andrews Bald Trail - North Carolina - Smoky Mountains Fall Hiking
Andrews Bald Trail | photo via @gayla_d_seale

Andrews Bald

Accessible via the Forney Ridge Trail, Andrews Bald is a beautiful grassy bald offering stunning views of the surrounding mountains. It’s a great spot for a picnic and less crowded than Clingmans Dome.

Balsam Mountain Road

This one-way gravel road offers a scenic drive through one of the more remote areas of the park. It’s a great way to escape the crowds and enjoy the peace and beauty of the Smokies.

Twentymile Trail

Located in a less visited corner of the park, the Twentymile Trail offers solitude and the chance to connect with nature. It’s a great place for a peaceful hike, with opportunities to see wildlife and enjoy the quiet beauty of the forest.

Charlies Bunion
Charlies Bunion | photo via joshfischer1692

Charlies Bunion via the Quiet Walkways

While Charlies Bunion is a popular destination for its breathtaking views, the Quiet Walkways leading toward it offer a less traveled route. These paths provide a serene hiking experience through old-growth forests and past small streams, making the journey as rewarding as the destination.

Cooper Road Trail

This lesser-known trail takes you through a beautiful, quiet section of the park, offering a glimpse into the Smoky Mountains’ past with old homesteads and settlements along the way. It’s an excellent choice for those looking to explore the park’s history without the crowds.

Grapeyard Ridge Trail
Grapeyard Ridge Trail | photo via goosielorraine

Grapeyard Ridge Trail

Ideal for those interested in the natural and cultural history of the Smokies, this trail leads to the remains of an old steam engine from a 1920s logging operation. The hike is moderately challenging and takes you through a less frequented but incredibly scenic part of the park.

Indian Creek and Deep Creek Loop

Combining several trails in the Deep Creek area, this loop offers a relatively easy hike with the reward of beautiful waterfalls, including Indian Creek and Tom Branch Falls. It’s a great way to experience the park’s renowned waterfalls with fewer people around.

Hidden Gems in the Smoky Mountains

Exploring these hidden gems in the Smokies requires a sense of adventure and a willingness to venture beyond the well-trodden paths. Always prepare adequately for hikes, respect wildlife, and follow the Leave No Trace principles to preserve the beauty and integrity of these special places for future generations.

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