Cades Cove and Clingmans Dome are popular attractions in the Smoky Mountains, but what about places off the beaten path that aren’t mentioned in the tourist books? From historical covered bridges to hidden waterfalls and a special little troll bridge, here are three hidden gems that you should see the next time you visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Rainbow Falls is the highest single-drop waterfall in the Smokies and one of the best-hidden gems in the Smokies. A 5.4-mile roundtrip hike that has a moderate difficulty rating, the trail is a scenic climb with plenty of great picnic areas off to the side. Once at the falls, visitors can choose to turn back or continue on to visit the summit of Mt. LeConte, which is another 4.2 miles of hiking.
Harrisburg Covered Bridge
While not located inside the National Park boundaries, the Harrisburg Covered Bridge is truly one of the best-hidden gems in the area and offers visitors a quick and easy chance to come and see it. It’s the oldest covered bridge in Sevier County and one of four in the entire state of Tennessee. The bridge features a king post truss design and can hold up to fifteen tons. This bridge is off U.S. Highway 441 and crosses the East Fork of the Little Pigeon River, providing a scenic backdrop to an already scenic landmark.
The Troll Bridge at Elkmont
It may seem silly to include a little walk across bridge on our hidden gems of the Smokies list, but once you see the Troll Bridge at Elkmont, you’ll understand why we included it. To find this bridge, you take one of the side trails to the right on the Little River Trail – you won’t even go 100-feet on the Little River Trail before you see the turn. If you ever feel like you are getting lost, you can just go parallel to the stone walls until you see the bridge. Pack a picnic lunch and make an afternoon adventure while you explore the old logging area of Elkmont!
If you are visiting Great Smoky National Park and want to get away from the crowds and still see something cool, then these three hidden gems are for you. They each offer a different thing to see or do while giving you a chance to make special memories with your favorite people. Download your vacation guide today to start planning the ultimate getaway to the Smoky Mountains.