Tour the Great Smoky Mountains on one of these 4 epic trail runs loaded with views, history, mountain peaks, and more!Less
The Smokies High Peaks Loop is arguably one of the most epic undertakings in Southern Appalachia. It visits Newfound Gap, Alum Cave, Mount LeConte, Charlies Bunion, and several others. It's an all-day adventure loaded with big views — perfect for experienced trail and ultra runners looking for a challenge. If hiking is more your style, it's a great 2-3 day loop with camping at Mount LeConte and Ice Spring Shelter on the AT.
The Hemphill Bald Loop is a must-do trail run and favorite among locals. Though there is no shortage of climbing, much of the route is on former roadbeds, likely used by loggers, miners, or even ranchers. The views from the bald summit are stunning, the Cataloochee Ranch and adjacent Ski Area both visible to the southeast. Depending on the time of year, you may even stumble across the infamous elk herd, which tend to be most active around dusk or dawn.
This circuit is the perfect half-day trail run if the Smokies High Peaks seems a bit too daunting. It begins at one of the quieter trailheads within the National Park, and showcases two of the most coveted overlooks on the Appalachian Trail in the region: Charlies Bunion and the "Jump Off." With over 4,000' of climbing in 15-miles, this route is anything but easy - your legs will undoubtedly feel the punishment the following day!
The Mount Sterling Loop is one of the best long trail runs you'll find in the Smokies. It showcases beautiful mountain streams, waterfalls, high mountain flora, and awards stunning views from a fire tower on Mount Sterling. Even better, the summit is also home to a lush stand of Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest, an ecosystem typically confined to the northern latitudes of New England.