We are planning to be in Gatlinburg the middle of September. Both are senior citizens and not very active. Are the different trails easy for non athletic, but not handicapped seniors. Are they marked? Thanks for the help.
I like the Little River trail which starts at Elkmont campground. This an old road which leads through the abandoned cabins of a former summer encampment and then follows a rushing creek. You can walk as far as you wish, up to several miles, or as little as a few hundred yards and have something interesting to see.
The nature trail at sugarlands is a good choice as is the Mingus Mill walk. The walk around the Oconoluftee pioneer farm at the Oconoluftee Visitors Center is a good choice.
As mentioned above, there are many 'quiet walkways" in the area near the visitor center that would be appropriate for you. Just visit the Sugarlands Visitor Center and get a map/ask rangers for suggestions.
There are several trails in the Park that are marked as Quiet Walkways - nice places to take a walk and suitable for everyone.
The Park information will also tell you about the various trails - the length of the trail, the level, etc.
The Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook is a very well-maintained and large parking area where drivers can pull off of the main road where traffic is most often quite heavy and park their vehicles and get out and enjoy the beautiful views of the Smoky Mountains. You can take some awesome photos from this scenic overlook without risking being run over by cars flying past on the main road and there are some handicap parking spaces there as well.
This is not a trail nor does it have restrooms. It is simply a very nice pull-off parking area which allows visitors to the Gatlinburg/Smoky Mountains a great place to stop and relax and breathe in the beauty of the views from high up atop the city and the mountains as you travel across them in a safe area away from the high density traffic.
There are some very nice trails for people like you who want to hike but may not be "world class athlete." I would recommend the "Cataract Falls Trail" located right behind the visitor center at the Sugarlands Visitor Center on the Gatlinburg entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains side of the park and I would also highly recommend that you stop and visit the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and Farm Museum on the Cherokee side of the Great Smoky Mountain Park.
There are a couple of great hiking trails that you can take from or near this location. The Mingus Mill Trail is a lovely easy hike and takes you to a working grist mill where a miller demonstrates the process of grinding corn into cornmeal. You can actually buy cornmeal and other mill related products there. The grist mill is open from 9 am-5 pm though the trail is always open for hiking. The Oconaluftee River Trail is located just behind the visitor center and after you walk through the open-air farm museum, you will pick up the trailhead at the far end beyond the farm buildings. Don't give up-keep going. This is a beautiful trail as it meanders and follows the riverbank along for a roundtrip of about 3 miles. Of course, you can determine how far you wish to hike and turn back at whatever point you wish to making your round trip any length that you wish it to be. The wildflowers are especially beautiful in the spring and fall months of the year.
Well, as you can tell this Floridian family loves this area of the mountains when we travel so I hope that my tips will help your family have a splendid time when you visit there.
We don't' do a lot of trails but was told by someone that some of the trails are ok for seniors and they give the distance and intensity of the trails.
There are varying degrees of difficulty for trails throughout the park. The trail behind Sugarlands visitor center is fairly easy and flat. There is one set of steps before the waterfall. Trail here is clearly marked.
Get quick answers from Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook staff and past visitors.