10 after Thanksgiving hikes in East Tennessee

Here are 10 trails and treks you can try with the whole family in the Great Smoky Mountains and all over East Tennessee.

TENNESSEE, USA — You’ve enjoyed a Thanksgiving dinner. You’ve woken up from your turkey-induced nap. Now, you’re looking for a way to stretch your legs or avoid the Black Friday crowds.

In East Tennessee, there’s no shortage of trails and treks in the Great Smoky Mountains and beyond.

Here are 10 hikes you can try with the whole family.

In the Great Smoky Mountains

For those wanting to see a waterfall, Laurel Falls is one of the most popular trails in the park. Parking around this trail is limited so it is recommended to get there early or have a backup plan like Grotto Falls or Spruce Flats Falls.

For those wanting to experience some of the park’s history, the Elkmont Historic District has restored vacation cabins to visit and several trails to explore like the Jakes Creek Trail, Little River Trail and Elkmont Nature Trail.

If you want to bring your pet along, the Gatlinburg Trail is the only spot on the Tennessee side of the park where they’re allowed.

Bonus: If your family is up for a challenge, you could try Alum Cave. Be aware of road conditions as the trail is in the higher elevations, and the park can close roads due to icy conditions.

Outside of the national park

In Anderson County, there’s the Hootin Hollow Trail in Norris Dam State Park. If you listen closely, you may hear the barred owl calls that give the trail its name.

In Cumberland County, you can do the Pioneer Loop at Cumberland Mountain State Park. The loop actually has two routes, the Short Loop and Long Loop, so you can pick your trek’s length.

In Hamblen County, the Point Lookout Trail at Panther Creek State Park offers scenic views of Cherokee Lake. This is a loop trail so it will be easy to find your car again.

In Knoxville, you can check out the newly reopened River Trail at Ijams. The hike takes you on a boardwalk over the Tennessee River.

In Morgan County, you can hike to two waterfalls in Frozen Head State Park. The trails here can be rugged at times so sturdy shoes are recommended.

In Scott County, you can try the Angel Falls Rapid Trail at Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. The rapids are some of the river’s “most famous and feared” so watch your step and keep your distance.

In Union County, there’s the Lake Trail at Big Ridge State Park. It wraps around Big Ridge Lake, and halfway through, you’ll cross a dam built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s.


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