For a scenic stroll in the Smokies, you cannot go wrong with a trip to the Gatlinburg Sky Trail. This easy 1/3-mile walkway takes you through three interesting sections: the elevated boardwalk, the Tulip Tower, and the path. All along the way, you get to savor views of the gorgeous landscape and the SkyBridge beyond. Want to take your journey to the next level? Visit during the leaf-peeping season or when they light up the bridge with lights during the holidays.
To kick off your journey, you’ll need to go to the start of the trail, located right outside the SkyCenter. To do that, you’ll first pay for admission to all the attractions beyond. Then, take a long, leisurely ride on the SkyLift to the boardwalk above while enjoying the fresh mountain air. You can start down the trail as soon as you arrive up top, but it’s often best to take a look around first.
If you’d like to enjoy panoramic views of the path ahead, head up to the SkyDeck for a glimpse at all the mountain splendor. As North America’s longest pedestrian bridge, the nearby SkyBridge spans from the starting point to the end of the trail. You can walk across its 680-foot expanse and back again before starting the trail if you wish.
Otherwise, start with a stroll down the elevated boardwalk. This wooden walkway leads you from the SkyDeck to the hillsides beneath the bridge. The views are enough to keep you busy but make sure to take the time to read the interactive signage along the path. These informative signs tell visitors all about the SkyLift’s history, including how the 2016 wildfires at Crockett Mountain shaped the landscape.
It’s common to see black bears moving through the brush as you walk down the trail. They’re often far down in the ravine, ensuring you can safely watch them for as long as you’d like. If you’re so lucky to see any, stand in quiet observation to see them eating wild berries and even playing together. Snap photo after photo or even take video if you’d like before moving on.
As you make your way down the trail, you’ll eventually come across the 70-foot-tall Tulip Tower. If you’d like a closer look, walk across one of the rope bridges to reach the tower. Then, move up the tower to each of the four viewing platforms while reading the signs about the local flora and fauna. Each level offers a unique perspective of the Smokies, so take your time traveling between each one.
After the Tulip Tower is a simple non-boardwalk style path cut into the hillside. This path leads from the tower to the SkyBridge, completing your journey in style. Sometimes, the path gets closed for maintenance. When that happens, you’ll need to return the way you came instead of finishing the trail and walking back to the start along the SkyBridge.
-Never get close to bears or any other wildlife you encounter on the trail.
-Bring plenty of patience. This is a popular attraction, and many people suddenly stop to take pictures whenever something catches their eye.
-While the SkyTrail stays open day and night, the Tulip Tower is only open during the daytime hours.
-Your admission tickets last all day long. So, visit during the daytime to get to climb Tulip Tower, and then return after the sun goes down to see downtown Gatlinburg lit up in all its glory.
-Want to share your SkyTrail experience with the world? Use the hashtag #gatlinburgskytrail while posting photos on social media.
-Be careful walking the trail and across the bridge when it’s rainy out. The walking surface gets slippery. It’s best to wear grippy sneakers if at all possible when you visit, just in case it starts to rain.