Blog for Zip line Attraction in the Smoky Mountains
Located in Pigeon Forge, TN and near Gatlinburg and Sevierville.
By Ross Bodhi Ogle
Posted on October 29, 2019
The fall colors are finally getting into gear in the Great Smoky Mountains, which means if you want to see the area's best color show, you'll need to head for the Smokies. The colors are already better in the higher elevations, but if you want to get a unique perspective on the annual foliage transformation, we recommend seeing it on foot. A driving tour is fine, but there's nothing like a good hike to really let you get hands-on with the area's greatest nature experience. Besides that, all those great nature smells plus fresh air and even a little bit of exercise are in store. For inspiration, read on for quick overviews of five great hikes you can take in Great Smoky Mountains National Park to help you make the most of this year's fall colors. And don't forget that our Smoky Mountain zipline course is a great way to see the foliage too…
Clingman's Dome is a solid option for anyone who doesn't want to commit to an extended hike in the woods. From the south end of Gatlinburg, drive 23 miles to this well known observation tower, which stands 6,600 feet above sea level and offers stunning panoramic views of much of the surrounding Smokies range. From the parking area, it's only a half-mile hike to the tower, and from there, you can see as far as 100 miles in all directions on a clear day. Because of the high elevation, you'll see the fall colors at their most advanced, but remember that also means temperatures will be a good bit colder than they are in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge. Dress for temperature differences as much as 20 degrees lower.
This is the shortest and one of the most popular routes to the summit of Mt. LeConte. You can go all the way to the top of the mountain, which is about a 10-mile round-trip hike (medium to strenuous), or you can do what many do and stop about halfway up at the Alum Cave Bluffs and then make your way back down for an approximately five-mile hike. The full route up covers a range of about 1,200 feet in elevation, so you'll see the foliage in a wide range of transformation, including maples, hickories and birches. And there are lots of great views and geological features to see in addition to the color show.
We can't make hike recommendations without working in at least one waterfall. The trailhead for this five-mile (round trip) hike is about halfway along the Cades Cove motor loop in the national park. When you get to your final destination, you'll find 20-foot-high waterfalls, but the path to and from the falls offers lots of foliage-viewing opportunities. Plan on three hours or so to complete this hike, but the trail is mostly level to gently rolling, so it's doable for most ages and experience levels. An essential component of any Cades Cove visit.
Some of the hikes we're including here today are pretty challenging, but this is not one of them. In fact it's one of the most popular hikes in the park, because it's so close to the Sugarlands Visitor Center and easily accessible. From the parking area, you'll walk only 1.3 miles to a gorgeous set of double-drop falls, and the path is even paved, so you'll often see families with strollers on this very manageable route.
This hike requires the better part of a day, but you'll be rewarded with some awesome sweeping views of the Smokies range from a bird's-eye perspective. The summit is at 4,928 feet above sea level, and at the top, you'll look out over the Pigeon River valley from a rocky outcropping. The trail is just over 11 miles long round trip, and you'll gain about 3,000 feet in elevation along the way, so it's considered a strenuous journey for more experienced hikers.