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Quieter hikes, drives in the Great Smoky Mountains for the introverted outdoor adventurer

As the country's most visited national park, crowds and limited parking spaces are to be expected. So what is a Smokies visitor to do?

SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. — So you want to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Where should you go?

Well, there are always the popular options of Cades Cove, Clingmans Dome or Newfound Gap. 

Oh no! Traffic is backed up on Cades Cove Loop, and there are no parking spaces at the base of Clingmans Dome!

As the country's most visited national park, crowds and limited parking spaces are to be expected. So what is a Smokies visitor to do?

If you are willing to go off the beaten path, there are ways to experience the park's natural beauty without the crowds or the endless hunt for a parking spot.

Hikes

Middle Prong Trail: moderate difficulty, roughly 8 miles round trip, near Tremont on the Blount County side of the park, leads to Indian Flat Falls

Rocky Top/ Thunderhead Mountain: difficult to strenuous difficulty rating, roughly 14 miles round trip, located near Tennessee/North Carolina line of the park, accessible from Appalachian Trail and Cades Cove

Mount Cammerer: strenuous difficulty rating, roughly 11 miles round trip, near Cosby area of the park, visit the Lookout built by the Civilian Conservation Corps

Sugarland Mountain Trail: moderate difficulty rating, roughly 7 miles round trip

Huskey Gap: moderate difficulty, roughly 8 miles round trip, accessible from Newfound Gap Road, great place to see wildflowers in the spring

Waterfalls

Hen Wallow Falls: moderate difficulty rating, about 4.4 miles round trip, accessible from Gabes Mountain Trail near Cosby

Spruce Flat Falls: easy difficulty, about 1.5 miles round trip, accessible on Middle Prong Trail in Tremont area

Drives

Rich Mountain Road: 8 miles, one-way gravel road, runs from Cades Cove to Townsend

Foothills Parkway: westbound runs from Walland to Chilhowee, eastbound runs from Cosby to I-40 exit 443

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail: 5.5-miles, one-way, loop road, accessible through Gatlinburg

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