Great Smoky Mountains National Park Offers Family Hiking Program

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is holding several family-friendly hiking programs to encourage families to get out and hike the park trails, learn new skills, assist in trail stewardship and record their results.

The programs are a part of a National Park Foundation grant funded through the Coca-Cola Foundation which expands the current “Hike the Smokies” and “Adopt a Trail” programs.

Participants are asked to wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots and bring plenty of water and a lunch for each hike. For more information, please visit the “Hike the Smokies” website:


Little River Trail Family Adventure Hike at Elkmont 

Every Wednesday, June 20-Aug. 11 at 11 a.m.

Join a ranger to learn the hiking basics and exploration techniques that are ranger-tested and kid-approved. Hike is five miles and lasts up to three hours, but participants will have the option to turn around for a shorter hike.

Difficulty: moderate

Accessibility: Unpaved gravel and dirt trail.

Meet at the Little River Trailhead in Elkmont


Andrews Bald Family Adventure Hike 

Thursday, July 5, at 10:30 a.m.

Join a ranger for Family Hiking 101. Learn the fundamentals of safe and fun family hiking as you explore the remnants of an old-growth spruce fir forest.

The final destination is Andrew’s Bald, where hikers will experience one of the most spectacular panoramic views in the Smokies. Roundtrip mileage for this newly renovated trail totals 3.6 miles and will take  3-4 hours to complete.

Difficulty: easy to moderate; trail has several short uphill climbs.

Accessibility: Unpaved trail

Meet at Clingmans Dome parking lot, at the Forney Ridge trailhead


Schoolhouse Gap Family Adventure Hike 

Thursday, July 12, at 10 a.m.

Hiking made easy! Enjoy this wide, graveled trail to Schoolhouse Gap and the Townsend park boundary. This ranger-led hike traces the historical footsteps of school children who walked through this mountain gap to get to school.

Well known for its spectacular collection of spring flowers, this is a great trail for families. Learn the basics of safe and fun family hiking; observe nature at its finest along a small mountain stream and experience the wildlife of a pine-oak forest habitat. Roundtrip mileage totals 4.4 miles and will take from 3-4 hours.

Difficulty: easy

Accessibility: Unpaved gravel trail

Meet at parking lot of Schoolhouse Gap trailhead, Laurel Creek Road


Porters Flat Hike 

Thursday, July 19, at 10 a.m.

Double your family fun! Discover the beauty of nature and explore the history of Greenbrier Cove, which was a thriving farming community in the 1800s. Several structures, including old rock walls and a cantilevered barn, can be explored.

Learn the fundamentals of safe and fun family hiking plus explore the remnants of this historical community on this ranger-led hike. Roundtrip mileage to flats and back is two miles. Enthusiastic hikers may wish to continue on alone to Fern Branch Falls for a roundtrip total of four miles.

Difficulty: easy with gentle climbs to moderate is going to the falls

Accessibility: Unpaved gravel trail

Meet at Porters Creek trailhead. From Greenbrier entrance (look for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park entrance sign on the right). Drive 3.1 miles to a fork in the road. Stay straight to go to the Porters Creek parking about a mile from this fork.

Molly Schroer


[email protected]