- 1.9 miles in length
- Starting Points – Sugarlands Visitors Center or River Road in Gatlinburg near traffic light 10
- Points of Interest – Footbridge over the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River & CCC homesites
- Difficulty – 1
Are you looking for an easy trail? Are you wanting to hike but not end up passed out on the side of the mountain because the elevation was just too much to take? Then the Gatlinburg Trail might be your best option. Starting from either Gatlinburg or from the Sugarlands Visitors Center, you are looking at an almost 2 mile hike with very little elevation climb and a beautiful scenery as you wind through the lower altitudes of the Smokies along the Little Pigeon River.
I like to start this hike from the Gatlinburg end if the trail. Park in Gatlinburg along River Road or arrive early and you might can park across from the trailhead itself. Hop out of the car and start on the trail. You start right next to the river – and if you are just looking to go wading, this is the spot. Within the first half a mile of the trail there are several places that you can walk right down to the river. Also, in the first half you will come to the first big highlight on this trail – the footbridge.
The footbridge over the Little Pigeon River is THE reason to hike this trail, and it is also part of the reason that most people start from the Gatlinburg end of the trail. The footbridge allows you to see upstream and downstream on the Little Pigeon. It is a perfect place for a family photo. Also, right past the bridge there is a path that leads down under the bridge for a great opportunity to play in the water. When you are ready to continue your hike, jump out of the water and head back up to the bridge, hiking away from Gatlinburg into the mountains.
Another half mile of hiking, about halfway down the trail, you will come to the next big highlight. You will have gained some elevation slowly over the course of the trail and on your right (again if you are headed toward Sugarlands) you will see a chimney. This chimney marks one of the CCC Camps that helped to make this trail into the wilderness. The CCC or Civilian Conservation Corps were conscientious objectors to World War II that were used to help establish the trails and facilities in the National Park. Around the park you will find relics, left over from where these people lived and worked in the GSMNP.
There is one thing to remember when you are hiking the Gatlinburg Trail, it is a one way trail. This is not a loop that will bring you back to the place you started so you will have to hike the 2 miles back to the trailhead you started from unless you have dropped a car off at the other end of the trail. That means that you are looking at around 4 miles of hiking inside of almost 2 if you have to hike back. This is just something to keep in mind for any of the trails in the park that are not loop trails.