Visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park this Labor Day? Welcome! We’re the country’s most visited national park—thanks to stunning panoramas, gorgeous rushing waterfalls, thousands of native flora and fauna, and hikes for all skill levels.
Promising the first hints of crisp fall air, Labor Day weekend is a big draw with Smoky Mountain visitors. But don’t worry – we’ve got the scoop for how to beat the crowds and enjoy your own personal piece of serene mountain paradise.
Visit the Roads (and Trails) Less Traveled By
Cades Cove Loop Road and Newfound Gap Road are the most popular roads in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. To avoid hitting traffic on Labor Day, consider visiting some of the park’s lesser-used (but equally beautiful) spots below:
At Abrams Creek, a moderate 5-mile roundtrip hike leads to a spectacular waterfall. Though you’ll need to brave part of Cades Cove Loop Road to get to it, the trail itself is quiet and scenic, with multiple overlooks. Follow the trail as it winds through hemlocks and pine trees toward the picturesque rocky waterfall and natural pool.
(Warning: The pool at the base of the falls has extremely strong currents and undertows; do not attempt to swim in it!).
Porters Creek Trail
Lush and uncrowded, Porters Creek Trail is just six miles from downtown Gatlinburg but feels worlds away. You might not hear much more than the song of a Cerulean Warbler or the trickling of a stream as you amble along the banks of Porters Creek in this lovely wooded hike.
Four miles roundtrip, the hike offers views of an old cemetery, historic buildings (including remnants of the Eli Cantrell farmstead and the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club’s cabin built in the 1930s), and a view of the cascading Fern Views Waterfall.
Boasting the tallest dam east of the Rockies, Fontana Lake offers access to remote historical areas such as Hazel Creek and Eagle Creek, as well as fishing and boating.
Other less-traveled spots include Greenbrier Cove, Heintooga Ridge Road, Cosby, and the Foothills Parkway (East and West).
Arrive Early (or Late)
Dead-set on checking out some of the park’s more popular spots? Most park-goers tour the park between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., so visit before or after those times for a less populous experience. Rise early to see the first rays of sun filtering between the pines, or stop by in the evening to watch the sun dipping below the Smokies.
Find Solitude on the Quiet Walkways
The Quiet Walkways of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are specially marked paths seeded throughout Newfound Gap Road and Little River Road. You’ll pass babbling brooks, log bridges – and you may just spot a black bear (remember: don’t approach!)
Intended for visitors who want to break off and enjoy a moment of serenity in the fresh mountain air, the Quiet Walkways are easy to access and generally appropriate for walkers and hikers of all skill levels. Just look for the signs!
Many of the less-traveled gems of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are located just a stone’s throw from our cabin and condo rentals. Let us be the first to offer you a warm welcome to your serene Smokies vacation!