The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a United States National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site that straddles the ridgeline of the Great Smoky Mountains, part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are a division of the larger Appalachian Mountain chain. There's plenty to do and see at the park; from feeling the cool spray of a waterfall, camping under the stars to exploring a historic mill and even viewing the great black bears. Plan your trip with the Great Smoky Mountains Travel Guide and Offline Map.
1. Cades Cove
Cades Cove offers the widest variety of historic buildings of any area in the national park. Scattered along the loop road are three churches, a working gristmill, barns, log houses, and many other faithfully restored eighteenth and nineteenth century structures. The valley has a rich history. For hundreds of years, Cherokee Indians hunted in Cades Cove but archeologists have found no evidence of major settlements. The first Europeans settled in the cove sometime between 1818 and 1821.
2. Rainbow Falls
If you're adventurous at heart then hiking the Rainbow Falls Trail may be for you. The first mile of this popular but strenuous trail follows LeConte Creek. Later on, a log footbridge crosses the creek about 2 miles from the trailhead, and and the trail then crosses a tributary of LeConte Creek without the help of a bridge. After another two bridges, you will finally be rewarded by your first view of the falls, named for the rainbows seen in the mist that is caused by the afternoon sun.
3. Hike the Smokies with the Family
There are several family-friendly short nature trails that every member will enjoy. The trails are perfect for exploring with children or for those who need an easy hike. Be sure to keep track and record the mileage from each trail excursion, even if it is the same trail day after day and the park will award you with mileage stickers and pins.
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