Great Smoky Mountains Natl. Park — With more than 800 miles of trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and waterfalls, sweeping cliffside views, towering forests, backcountry wilderness and historic sites along the way, picking a spot for an outdoor adventure can be overwhelming.
However, there are plenty of trails close to Gatlinburg and Townsend so you can get your bearings and still enjoy several aspects of the Smokies.
At just around 1.5 miles round trip on a well-marked path with some elevation change, the Fighting Creek Nature Trail is considered an easy to moderate hike.
It starts at the Sugarlands Visitor Center and follows a loop that goes past a historic cemetery and the restored 19th-century John Ownby Cabin.
Early on the trail also branches off and runs into the Cove Mountain Trail that leads to Cataract Falls.
The Fighting Creek Nature Trail is in a very popular area so expect to share it with other hikers and joggers. This area also has some black bear activity and can shut down at times until they move on.
What to expect on the trail:
Some tips before you visit:
- Let someone know where you plan to hike, when you plan to be back, what clothes you are wearing and what your car looks like.
- Wear sunscreen and bug spray.
- Pack plenty of water and snacks.
- Take a light source with you (preferably not your phone). The park said the number one reason people have to get rescued in the park is not bringing a light.
- Keep an eye on the weather.
- Be courteous to other park visitors.
- Leave the plants and wildlife alone.
- Have a backup plan if the trail is closed or too busy.
- Check on road closures at twitter.com/smokiesroadsnps.
- Make sure to have a parking tag.