One of the many advantages of playing in a tournament at Rocky Top Sports World is having the chance to visit Gatlinburg, TN. This charming city is located at the doorstep of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited national park in the United States. With over 800 miles of beautifully maintained trails, the Smokies are guaranteed to have a hike that is right for you.
In between games at Rocky Top Sports World, you should definitely set aside some time to explore the national park with your family or teammates. To help you make the most of your trip, we have put together a guide to three of our favorite hikes in the Smoky Mountains:
1. Alum Cave Trail
The Alum Cave Trail will take you to one of the most unique landmarks in the Smokies. Alum Cave is an 80 ft by 500 ft concave bluff that was mined for salt as far back as the 1830s. During the Civil War, the Confederate Army used saltpeter from the cave to produce gunpowder for its troops.
The hike to Alum Cave is 4.4 miles round trip, and begins at a parking lot located along Newfound Gap Road. Along the way to the cave, hikers will enjoy stunning views of Myrtle Point and Little Duck Hawk Ridge. “Duck hawk” is another name for a peregrine falcon, and the ridge is so named because these incredible birds are known to nest in the area. Be sure to bring a pair of binoculars so you can spot a falcon on your hike!
The trailhead for the Alum Cave Trail is about 15.7 miles from Rocky Top Sports World, making this a good hike to enjoy after a tournament or on your way home.
2. Laurel Falls Trail
Laurel Falls is one of the national park’s most beautiful sights. At 80 feet high, this waterfall is absolutely magnificent in person. To reach the waterfall, hikers take the Laurel Falls Trail, which is named after the mountain laurel that blooms along the path.
The trail begins at the parking lot on Little River Road at the top of Fighting Creek Gap, which is roughly 10.8 miles from Rocky Top Sports World. At only 2.6 miles round trip, this hike takes about two hours to complete. The Laurel Falls Trail is paved, which makes this one of the most popular hikes in the Smoky Mountains for families. If you’re traveling with younger siblings, be sure to keep a close eye on them, as the trail does feature some steep drop-offs and slippery sections near the waterfall.
3. Trillium Gap Trail/Grotto Falls
Grotto Falls has the distinction of being the only waterfall in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that you can walk behind! This beautiful waterfall is located along the Trillium Gap Trail, which begins off of the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail (about 10.2 miles from Rocky Top Sports World). The round trip hike to Grotto Falls is just 2.6 miles, but if you’re looking for a more intense hike, you can take the trail all the way to the top of Mount LeConte, the highest peak in the state of Tennessee. The extended hike to Mount LeConte is 13.9 miles round trip.
If you hike to Grotto Falls on a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday morning, you may run into some special visitors along the way. Herds of llamas are used to deliver supplies to the lodge at the top of Mount LeConte on these days, so you could encounter these furry travelers during your hike. Seeing a procession of llamas making their way up a mountain is certainly a sight to behold!
Rocky Top Sports World is just a short drive from the trailheads to these excellent hikes in the Smoky Mountains. To see a calendar with all of the upcoming events at Rocky Top Sports World, visit our Smoky Mountain Sports Tournaments & Camps page!