Picking a vacation destination is probably the hardest part about choosing a week long trip. You want to make everyone who’s going happy. And it is hard. But there’s one place in Tennessee that will please the entire family… the Smokies or the Smoky Mountains.

It is just located along the North Carolina and Tennessee border. In fact, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park runs through both states and you can get a good view of the entire park from Clingmans Dome. It is also the highest mountain within the park — at an elevation of 6,643 feet.

Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The highest point in the Smokies.
Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The highest point in the Smokies.

It does take a little bit of hiking (all uphill to get to the top), but the views are worth it.

Besides just Clingmans Dome, there are many other trails. I myself have done most of the hikes that lead to waterfalls.

My favorite is Greenbrier. It is off of the beaten path and not many tourists know about it because it does take a lot to get there. It is nearly 5 miles on a dirt road then another 4 miles (one way, uphill) by foot. But it leads to the best waterfall… Ramsey Cascades.

The Adventure

It has a total of 2,190 foot elevation gain during the strenuous hike.

Ramsey Cascades falls over 100 feet in the Smoky Mountains.
Ramsey Cascades falls over 100 feet in the Smoky Mountains.

Now, I have done this specific one at least 5 times and it is safe to say that you’ll want to bring more water than you think you will need.

Maybe some pepper spray too. I have also seen black bears on this hike… more than once… so it is a fairly active trail to see wildlife.

While this trail is fun for the whole family, just be cautious that the trail does start out easy, but then gradually getting difficult. My 7 year old sister did it and she was crawling on the rocks at the top.

This hike is also an all day activity. And the best part is that it’s free.

Of course, you can have a little fun along the trail too!

Lifting a rock along the Ramsey Cascades Trail. The hike was tiring.
Lifting a rock along the Ramsey Cascades Trail. The hike was tiring.

Just plan ahead a drink and bring plenty of water.

Ramsey Cascades and Clingmans Dome are just two of the hikes. There’s also Chimney Tops and Laurel Falls (which is paved). I have done all of these and each trail is not easy.

And you do feel accomplished when you complete one.

The options are endless when it comes to the Smokies. The Park is all outdoor, which is great when the weather is warm and sunny, but the daily activities are also fun when it comes to the rainy days.

The town of Gatlinburg is family-friendly and offers many fun things to do… with Ripley’s Believe it or not, the Aquarium, shopping, or going out for food. That’s just the beginning.

But my absolute favorite thing is to go hiking.

Like I said, Ramsey’s Falls is probably the best. For the times that I have been on it is has been difficult and never easier, but there aren’t a lot of people on the trail so you get to explore nature and enjoy the gorgeous waterfall at the end… oh and maybe some wildlife.

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