Nestled in a peaceful part of the Smokies, Wears Valley is a beautiful mountain community that's famous for its picturesque scenery.
With impressive views of 4,073' tall Cove Mountain and it's own entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Wears Valley is an excellent place to enjoy the natural wonders of the Smokies.
Better yet, there are several excellent hiking trails close to Wears Valley inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park! Here's our list of the best hikes in Wears Valley, Tennessee!
1. Metcalf Bottoms Trail
Located near the Wear Cove Gap road entrance to the national park, the Metcalf Bottoms Trail is a beginner friendly hike that's only 1.2 miles in length and that features several historic sights.
Across the river from the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic area, you'll find the trailhead to this hike. This beginner-friendly hike follows a lovely mountain stream and passes through lush groves of Rhododendron on its way to the remains of the historic Little Greenbrier Community.
After crossing a small footbridge, you'll reach the Little Greenbrier school, an old cabin first built in 1882 that served as both a church and a schoolhouse for this remote mountain community. Nearby, there's also a graveyard with headstones over a century old.
From here, you can extend your hike on the Little Brier Gap Trail that continues 1.5 miles onto the Walker Sisters Cabin, a historic farmstead where 6 sisters once lived inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
From this trail network, you can also hike to the top of Cove Mountain, the mountain that towers above Wears Valley, by continuing on the Little Greenbrier Trail to the Laurel Falls Trail. Though the hike itself is quite scenic, Cove Mountain itself does not offer a good view.
2. Laurel Falls Trail
Located only 7.9 miles from Wears Valley, the Laurel Falls is one of the most popular hikes in the national park and one of the best trails near Wears Valley.
Better yet, this scenic hike lives up to its hype. This trail is moderate in difficulty, but at a round-trip length of 2.3 miles, it is accessible to most hikers.
This partially paved trail passes through stands of mature hardwood forest and mountain laurel on its way to Laurel Falls, an 80 ft. multi-tiered waterfall. In fact, the trail itself passes between two of the main tiers of the falls, so it's easy to get a great picture of this photogenic waterfall.
Please note that this trail can become crowded and the parking area for the trailhead is often filled. To get the most from your visit to Laurel Falls, we recommend starting your hike early in the day to beat the crowds.
3. The Sinks and Meigs Creek Falls Trail
The Sinks is another stunning waterfall that's only 4.8 miles away from Wears Valley. Better yet, since this waterfall is located just off of the Little River Gorge Road, it's one of the few waterfalls in the Smokies that you can see without hiking!
The Sinks is arguably one of the best swimming holes in the Smokies and it has a unique history. Before the formation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the forests near Wears Valley were heavily logged and the Little River was used to transport logs downriver.
In the late 1800s, an intractable logjam at this spot disrupted the timber operations in the Smokies. To break up the jam, the logging company used a large quantity dynamite to break up the logjam.
The idea worked, but the explosion created a deep chasm in the bedrock that altered the course of the river and created "the sinks" as we know them today.
From the Sinks, you can access the Meigs Creek Falls Trail, a lovely, lesser used trail that passes by several cascades, including the 18 ft. Upper Meigs Falls.
4. Spruce Flats Falls Trail
Tremont is an excellent hiking area that's close to Wears Valley that's home to historic sights and beautiful waterfalls.
In particular, the Spruce Flats Falls in Tremont is one of the most underrated waterfall hikes in the Smoky Mountains. Better yet, this waterfall is only a 10-mile drive from Wears Valley.
Though this hike is not included on most trail maps of the Smokies, it's well worth your visit. The trail for this scenic waterfall begins behind the Tremont Institute Visitor Center. The hike passes along a mountainside and even features some nice views of nearby Thunderhead Mountain.
After 1 mile, you'll reach Spruce Flats Falls, a multi-tiered waterfall with several nice pools at their base. The tallest of these tiers is 30 ft tall and it's a favorite spot for local photographers.
The Middle Prong Trail is another waterfall hike that's worth a visit if you're in Tremont area of the Smokies.
5. Anthony Creek Trail
In the scenic Cades Cove campground area, you'll find the trailhead for the Anthony Creek Trail. Since this trail is a 14.5-mile drive from Wears Valley, this hiking trail is a bit further away, but it's one of the best trails in the area for enjoying mountain views.
This scenic trail climbs steadily on its way to Bote Mountain Trail and the Appalachian Trail on its way to Spence Field, a high elevation field with panoramic views of the Smoky Mountains. Even if you don't make it up to the mountain views, Anthony Creek Trail is a pleasant hike that passes by lush forests and rushing mountain streams.
This strenuous hike is over 10 miles in length and is recommended for experienced hikers.
By driving a bit further, you can reach some other popular hikes in the Cades Cove area like The Abrams Falls Trail and the Schoolhouse Gap Trail.
Map of Best Hikes Near Wears Valley
When you're enjoying the top hiking trails close to Wears Valley, be sure to check out these other nearby areas that offer lots of beautiful sights to see in the Smokies:
- Cades Cove
Wears Valley is also a short drive from Newfound Gap Road near Gatlinburg that goes to destinations like Newfound Gap, Mt. LeConte, The Chimney Tops Trail, and Clingman's Dome.
Looking for other things to enjoy in Wears Valley? Check out our list of the best things to do and see in Wears Valley during your stay in the Smoky Mountains!
Written by Mark Frazier