It's pretty easy to see why the Great Smoky Mountains draw upwards of 10 million visitors each year. Just take a look at some of the stats: 850 miles of backcountry trails, 730 miles of fish-bearing streams, 16 peaks over 6,000 feet in elevation, 70 miles of the famed Appalachian Trail, the list goes on. Beyond the numbers, however, there's an ineffable quality to the Smokies that only those who've been there can truly appreciate.
This Father's Day, rather than buying dad another dust-gathering grill appliance or pair of dress socks, why not dive straight into the magic of the Smokies? Take your pops for a stroll down a spongy, moss-covered trail through a lung-expanding Spruce forest, allow him to soak up the sprawling mountain views from an exposed grassy bald, and guide him to the best swimming hole in the park. You can do all of this, and more, along these 4 iconic hikes:
1. Abrams Falls
While the hike itself is nice enough, it's the 100-foot wide pool at the end of the trail that makes Abrams Falls one of the most popular spots in the park. Be sure to have a dip after the relatively easy 2.5 mile hike in.
2. Andrew's Bald
If your old man isn't at the prime of his physical life anymore, the hike to Andrew's Bald is a pretty easy 1.8-mile family-friendly route with great rewards. As the highest bald in the Smokies, it offers an idyllic grassy summit with seriously picturesque panoramas.
3. Baxter Creek Trail
So, your dad has oodles of old-man-strength, then? Consider taking him on one of the most strenuous trails in the Great Smoky Mountains. The Baxter Creek Trail gains a mean 4,000 feet in 6-miles, but the oxygen-filled old-growth forests on the way up will more than make up for the physical strain.
4. Mt. LeConte
If there's one tell-tale sign that Mt. LeConte is worth visiting, it's that there are five trails which lead to its summit. We recommend either the Alum Cave Trail or the Boulevard Trail—an 11-mile steep, scenic route and a 16-mile long, gradual climb, respectively. Your pops will certainly enjoy either one.
Happy Father's Day and Happy Trails!
Written by Ry Glover for RootsRated.