Hiking Trails in the Smokies During Winter

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Frozen waterfalls...snow-covered mountaintops.. stunning views. The Smoky Mountains can be a winter wonderland. If you don’t mind a little cold weather, you’ll love hiking and exploring while enjoying the beauty of the Smokies during this season. We’ve made a list of several most popular hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains during winter.

Rainbow Falls Trail

smoky mountains winter hike

The Rainbow Falls Trail is a popular trail that offers breathtaking sights in the winter. If there is a long period of cold weather, an impressive ice formation can be seen around the falls. the trail is 5.4 miles to the waterfall and back, but the trail continues for another 4 miles to the summit of Mount Leconte. The trail gains about 1,500 feet in elevation, so be ready for a bit of a hike!

Porters Creek

Situated at a lower elevation, Porters Creek is beautiful during all of the seasons, but especially during the winter. There are fewer chances of the roads around it being closed due to inclement weather during winter. This trail provides great opportunities to learn more about Smoky Mountain history and also features a waterfall! Hike about 2 to Fern Branch Falls. This 40-foot waterfall is even more gorgeous in its frozen state.

Laurel Falls

smoky mountains frozen laurel falls

Another waterfall hike. This 2.6-mile roundtrip hike is great for families and features a gorgeous 80-foot waterfall. Laurel Falls is one of the most popular hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains throughout all seasons, and winter is no exception.  Laurel Falls itself has an upper and lower section that is divided by a walkway so visitors can actually cross the falls! If the temperatures get cold enough, you may even see the waterfall when it’s frozen. Make sure to keep your camera close to capture all the beautiful snowy sights.


Alum Cave Trail

Alum Cave Trail is a beautiful sight during the winter because the water that can be seen during warmer months dripping off the bluffs forms into frozen icicles. Inspiration Point (bout 2 miles into the trail) provides breathtaking views of the winter scenery. The Alum Cave Bluffs is about 2.3 miles into the trail, which is the turning point for most hikers. If you’re feeling confident, continue the rest of the way to Mount LeConte (the third highest peak in the Smoky Mountains) for a total of 5 miles hiked  - to be rewarded by a spectacular sight.

Andrews Bald


Do not miss out on amazing Andrews Bald mountain views during the winter. To get there, hike along Forney Ridge Trail, which begins from the Clingmans Dome parking lot. The trail drops in elevation to get to Andrews Bald, and after the large descent, it levels on a broad ridge. The final part of the trail runs through a forest and brings you to the grassy bald. You’ll have picture-perfect views of snow-covered mountaintops!


Now that you know all the best hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains to try during the winter, it’s time to start planning your trip! Browse our Smoky Mountain cabins and choose the best one for your stay.