5 Great Smoky Mountain Winter Hiking Trails to Explore

Alum Cave

Do you want to view some impressive icicle formations on your hike? Then head up this popular trail for a roughly 4 ½-mile round-trip to the Alum Cave, which is in fact a towering concave bluff rising 80 feet above the trail. This outing is popular, even in winter, so get here early to beat the crowds.

Laurel Falls

This short 1.3-mile paved trail rewards visitors with a majestic and multi-tiered 80-foot cascade at its end, best viewed on the wooden footbridge spanning its length. It likely won’t be completely frozen, or at all, but you’ll still be impressed with this woodland gem.

Rainbow Falls

If you are eager for something more challenging, consider taking this trek along LeConte Creek that greets you with an elevation gain of 1,700 feet, plus a 5-mile-plus round-trip, switchbacks, and rocky sections. The falls here sometimes freeze into an hourglass shape in wintertime.

Max Patch

Like Andrews Bald, this mountaintop in the Pisgah National Forest will likely have a blanket of snow covering its surface. The route leads hikers up two loop trails that are an easy climb and 4-miles total. A little further along, you can also hit the Appalachian Trail.

Middle Prong Trail

This is one of the less-used Smoky Mountain winter hiking trails, but it’s a hidden gem for sure. This 8-mile round trip goes past three waterfalls that are really a sight to see when they’re frozen in the winter.

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