Six Trails to Hike in the Southeast


So many trails, so little time! The Discoverer travel website recently named the top hike to take in each of the 50 states. (No surprise here, but a hike in the Smokies got the nod for Tennessee.)

Here’s a look at the finishers in the Southeast. 

TennesseeAlum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte

This nearly 11-mile out and back trail (as opposed to a loop) combines expansive vistas with distinctive geological features and intriguing history. And the big bonus is a chance to visit LeConte Lodge at the top of Mount LeConte (advance reservations are a must to stay overnight). The trail climbs 2,700 feet in elevation over 5.5 miles and passes Alum Cave, an 80-foot conceived bluff that was mined by the Confederate Army to make gunpowder during the Civil War. 

Rated: Difficult | Dogs: Not allowed | Distance from Knoxville: Approx. 60 miles

AlabamaWalls of Jericho

The Walls of Jericho Trail is a 7.5-mile out and back trail that spans the Alabama-Tennessee border west of Chattanooga. The trek leads hikers past a handful of cascading waterfalls and the “Grand Canyon of the South” in the James D. Martin Skyline Wildlife Management Area. 

Rated: Difficult | Dogs: Allowed | Distance from Knoxville: Approx. 140 miles

GeorgiaAnna Ruby Falls

A pair of twin, cascading waterfalls plunge for more than 150 feet in the heart of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest. A paved trail climbs steadily beside a boulder-filled creek through the north Georgia forest canopy, and benches along the path help make it family-friendly. Strollers are even a possibility! While you’re in the area, check out the town of Helen, the Georgia version of a Swiss Alpine village.

Rated: Easy | Dogs: Allowed | Distance from Knoxville: Approx. 150 miles

KentuckyDouble Arch Trail

The 4.6-mile Double Arch Trail in Daniel Boone National Forest leads hikers beneath a sandstone cliff and traverses through giant hemlocks and bigleaf magnolias before reaching expansive views of Courthouse Rock and Haystack Rock. The out and back trail is near Stanton. 

Rated: Moderate | Dogs: Allowed | Distance from Knoxville: Approx. 160 miles

North Carolina – Art Loeb Trail

Art Loeb Trail is a 32-mile footpath tucked in Pisgah National Forest featuring panoramic views of the surrounding mountains along the way. It ascends 7,887 feet over its length. It is located near Brevard.

Rated: Difficult | Dogs: Allowed | Distance from Knoxville: Approx. 140 miles

South CarolinaFoothills Trail

The Foothills Trail, located near Mountain Rest, is a 72-mile mountainous wonderland, home to one of the heaviest populations of black bears in the country. The trail includes mountain peaks, dense forests, and sweeping views of the state, as well as several steep climbs. The trail also features several steep climbs including an ascent of South Carolina’s tallest peak.

Rated: Difficult | Dogs: Allowed on a leash | Distance from Knoxville: Approx. 190 miles

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