There are countless ways to get out in the fall colors of the Smoky Mountains without taking a strenuous hike. Quite apart from the Scenic Drives and Overlooks accessible by car, there are many Easy Walks and outdoor adventures where you don’t have to break a sweat, and here are some of the best.
If you’d like to take your dog on a walk with you, or would like to ride a bicycle, you should know about. the Gatlinburg Trail, a popular hiking trail connecting Great Smoky Mountains National Park with Gatlinburg. It’s suitable for all ages and skill levels.
Pigeon Forge also offers a paved park trail called the Riverwalk Greenway, which is a hidden gem of a nature walk that follows the river through the heart of town from Patriot Park at the southern end up to The Island and beyond. Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge also both have some fine public parks that are always worth a visit to get out of the bustle and picnic, fish or stroll around.
For the more fit or adventurous, see our guide to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and to some of the best Hiking Trails in the park.See also our collection of featured hikes that we especially like.
If you want to stretch your legs and get into nature, be aware of the Quiet Walkways that the park rangers have created just for that purpose. They’re accessed from the side of the road, and easily missed because of their minimal signs.
A similar feature are the Nature Trails of the national park, which lead into exceptionally beautiful areas picked out by the park service. Many of the trails are also quite easy – one is even wheelchair accessible. In fact, Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is one of these nature trails, but offered as a driving experience.
Another great way to combine some scenic driving with some of the quiet walkways is to drive along Little River Road from Sugarlands to Cades Cove or Townsend. This is not to be confused with the Little River Trail., which is a flat, wide and easy trail along the Little River, a pretty cascading stream with large boulders and several small waterfalls. This trail is lovely in the wildflower spring season, and great for fall colors too.
There are numerous other easy hikes available in the area, as well as scenic drives, and some itineraries that combine both – see our guide to Scenic Drives in the Smoky Mountains for more details. And while Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are the central gathering places for a trip to the Smoky Mountains, the Townsend area to the west and the Cosby campground area to the east are both more quiet, and with equally stunning scenery.
For lots more outdoor ideas, see our Smoky Mountains Activities guide. For a little more activity, see our Gatlinburg Hiking Trails, and the Smoky Mountains map page. Also take a look at our Things to Do in the Smoky Mountains guide and the most important: Things to Do in Gatlinburg With Kids.
For a cabin vacation in the Smoky Mountains, check out our Gatlinburg cabins and our Pigeon Forge cabin rental pages – not forgetting our Wears Valley cabins for that Quiet Side experience. If you’re bringing a pet, check our list of pet friendly cabins in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.