The 15 Best Hiking Trails in Tennessee!

Tennessee is blessed with great variance in geography. Toward the western part of the state, the land is mostly flat. It steadily rises as I-40 moves eastward, progressing into the Appalachian Mountains and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Fortunately, for Tennesseans, this means a great deal of variety in terms of hiking trails. From Chimney Tops to the Stone Door Trail, residents of Tennessee can choose between strenuous hikes to the peaks of mountains to quiet strolls that families with kids can complete. Here is a list of the 15 best hiking trails in Tennessee.

1. Ramsey Cascades Trail, Gatlinburg, TN

The Ramsey Cascades Trail runs about 7.7 miles round-trip. There is about 2,200 feet of elevation change and many report having to stop and rest throughout the trek. The slope steepens significantly in the last mile before the cascades, but the view of the waterfall is gorgeous and picture-worthy, which makes this a very rewarding hike.

2. Honey Creek Loop Trail, Allardt, TN

The Honey Creek Loop Trail is located in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area and ranks as its topmost ranked trail. It is difficult—boulder scrambles and nebulous trail blazes—but the scenery more than makes up for it. There are numerous waterfalls, shallow caves, and overlook areas that make this trail worth remembering.

3. Fiery Gizzard Trail, Tracy City, TN

There are legends as to how the Fiery Gizzard Trail got its name—Davy Crockett burning his tongue on a gizzard is one—but regardless of origin, the trail is regarded by some as one of the best hiking trails in the country. It runs from Tracy City to Foster Falls and features spectacular rock formations, multiple waterfalls, rock gorges, and even panoramic overviews.

4. Greeter Falls Loop, Altamont, TN

The Greeter Falls is a short hike—just 1.6 miles round-trip—and the elevation change is a little above 450 feet, making this a moderate hike, more on the side of easy than hard. The falls themselves are gorgeous—very clear water and at the right time of year nice to dip some feet in at the bottom. The amphitheater is a mixture of sandstone on top of limestone.

5. Fall Creek Trail, Spencer, TN

The Fall Creek Falls State Park is the largest and most visited state park, with over 26,000 acres. The Fall Creek Trail is a loop of 2.2 miles with about 1,000 feet in elevation change. The falls themselves are picturesque, while the trail itself features elevations shifts that can be navigated by stone steps—either man-made or by nature itself.

6. Chimney Tops Trail, Gatlinburg, TN

The Cherokee name for Chimney Tops means “forked antler” and referring to the appearance of the two highest points of the mountain. Although only four miles in distance round-trip, the trail contains over 1,400 feet in elevation change. With an access point southeast of the Sugarlands Visitor Center, the trail features a river and a gorgeous view from the top.

7. Virgin Falls Trail, Sparta, TN

The Virgin Falls Trail is 8.3 miles out-and-back. With over 1,600 feet in elevation changes, this trail is on the more difficult side of moderate. The trail is scenic—streams, caves, falls—but the trail itself has some roots and rocks. The view from the falls is gorgeous and there’s opportunity to see varied wildlife.

8. Stillhouse Hollow Falls Trail, Mount Pleasant, TN

The Stillhouse Hollow Falls Trail is very short—a one mile loop. But it’s not particularly easy, with around 240 feet in elevation change during that time. Hikers will be able to see the Stillhouse Hollow Falls, which is a 90-acre state natural area, which features waterfalls, seeps, and flat shale-bottom streams.

9. Buggytop Trail/Sewanee Natural Bridge Trail, Sequatchie, TN

The Buggytop Trail (also known as the Sewanee Natural Bridge Trail) is 4.3 miles with a moderate elevation change of nearly 1,200 feet. It’s out and back and the destination makes it a little different than the rest of this list—a cave. The cave can be explored with some standard equipment and the rock walls are magnificent.

10. Stone Door Trail, Beersheba Springs, TN

The Stone Door Trail is 1.6 miles out and back and has around 250 feet in elevation change. It is in the South Cumberland State Park, same as the Fiery Gizzard Trail. While that trail is considered strenuous, the Stone Door Trail is an easy hike with little elevation change compared to others. The views from the overlooks make it memorable.

11. Old Stone Fort Loop, Manchester, TN

The Old Stone Fort Loop is a three-mile loop with very little elevation change. It is a stand-out on this list for a special interactivity feature. The loop is part nature hike/part history tour as waterfalls, swimming holes, wildlife, and historical features are blended together. The “Old Stone Fort” refers to a 2,000-year-old Native American structure.

12. Cades Cove Loop Road, Townsend, TN

The Cades Cove Loop Road is a road through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and while it may be easier to drive down the 10.1-mile loop, walking on foot allows for closer encounters with the plentiful wildlife in the valley. The wildlife includes white-tailed deer, ground hog, turkey, and even racoons.

13. Tri-State Peak Trail, Cumberland Gap, TN

The Tri-State Peak Trail is 2.3 miles out and back within the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park. It’s a gravel path and gets a little steep at the end, but hikers who reach the destination get the rare opportunity of standing where three states are meeting. In this case, they are Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia.

14. Rainbow Falls Trail, Gatlinburg, TN

The Rainbow Falls Trail is 5.5 miles round-trip and has nearly 1,700 feet in elevation change, which is almost all incline. It is both rocky and steep, making it a tough hike, but the prize at the end is the Rainbow Falls—the highest single-drop waterfall in the Smoky Mountains. The name comes from the rainbows formed in the mist from the falls on sunny afternoons.

15. Burgess Falls Trail, Baxter, TN

Burgess Falls Trail is located near the Falling Water River, which used to generate hydroelectric power for Cookeville between 1928-1944. It is 1.6 miles round trip, with over 400 feet in elevation change.  It is an easy hiking trail but has an enormous pay-off: A gorgeous waterfall at the end, with two overlooks and one trail to the bottom.

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328 Cedar Forest Rd, Lebanon, TN
Cedars of Lebanon State Park is located in Wilson County and is part of the Cedars of Lebanon State Forest. The park is named for Eastern Red Cedar... Read More
2910 Hobson Pike, Nashville, TN
The 2,600 acres which make up this area became a state park in 1974 and has four sections, Couchville, Baker’s Grove, Bryant Grove and Sellars Farm... Read More
2910 Hobson Pike, Hermitage, TN
The 2,600 acres which make up this area became a state park in 1974 and has four sections, Couchville, Baker’s Grove, Bryant Grove and Sellar... Read More
4209 Nashville Highway, Chapel Hill, TN
Henry Horton State Park was constructed in the 1960s on the estate of the former governor of Tennessee, Henry Horton. The park is located on the sh... Read More
1160 Otter Creek Road, Nashville, TN
Radnor Lake State Park is a 1,332-acre park and is protected as a Class II Natural Area. It is unique due to the abundance of wildlife viewing oppo... Read More
901-995 Travelers Ct, Nashville, TN
732 Stone Fort Drive, Manchester, TN
The Old Stone Fort was built during the Middle Woodland Period, 1,500-2,000 years ago. Native Americans used this area continuously for about 500 y... Read More
2315-2425 Short Springs Road, Tullahoma, TN
The Short Springs State Natural Area Hike Trail has many ups and downs, creek crossings and beautiful waterfalls so hikers should be prepared for a... Read More
600 James Robertson Parkway, Nashville, TN
Located in the shadow of the Capitol in downtown Nashville, Bicentennial Capitol Mall gives visitors a taste of Tennessee’s history, natural ... Read More
400 Zieglers Fort Road, Gallatin, TN
Bledsoe Creek State Park is rich in history. It was once a prime hunting ground for the Cherokee, Creek, Shawnee and Chickamauga Native American tr... Read More
570 Tims Ford Drive, Winchester, TN
Located on the Tims Ford Reservoir, the 1,321-acre Tims Ford State park sits in the shadows of the Cumberland Plateau in south-central Tennessee. T... Read More
1630 Edgar Evins State Park Road, Silver Point, TN
Edgar Evins State Park is located on the shores of Center Hill Lake in the steep, hilly Eastern Highland Rim. The 6,000 acre park provides many rec... Read More
The Harpeth River State Park is a linear park that manages nine river access sites along 40 river miles. Sites include several natural, archaeologi... Read More
82 Beach Road, Rock Island, TN
Rock Island State Park is an 883 acre park located on the headwaters of Center Hill Lake at the confluence of the Caney Fork, Collins and Rocky Riv... Read More
11745 US 41, Monteagle, TN
South Cumberland State Park is located within four different Tennessee counties: Grundy, Franklin, Marion and Sequatchie. The park is composed of a... Read More
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