1. Favorite multiday: Tricorner Loop
This 31-mile Smokies trek is an instant classic. It rises from dense, colorful undergrowth—ferns, trilliums, and rhododendrons—through Christmas-scented firs to the tops of 5,000-foot ridges. Hone your map skills: You’ll bushwhack to eight peaks taller than 6,000 feet. Tip: Thru-hikers crowd trails in April.
2. Classic day: Mt. LeConte
Climb 13 miles up and over this 6,593-foot summit on the Appalachian, Boulevard, and Alum Cave Trails.
3. Best wildflowers: Art Loeb Trail
Take a long weekend in mid-May to backpack this rolling 30.1-mile point-to-point through freshly blooming dogwood, magnolia, azalea, and trillium. Camp on grassy Black Balsam Knob. No fastpacking allowed.
4. Premier falls hike: Raven Cliff Falls
Hike 2.5 miles and see four thundering falls. Raven drops 60 feet through a granite slot.
5. Killer view: Blood Mountain
Peer into the most mountainous parts of three states from the summit.
6. Best foliage: Signal Mountain
Take the Cumberland Trail to an upper-deck view of blazing Tennessee River Gorge hardwoods.
Quick City Escapes
Amazon’s best-selling guidebook authors choose killer dayhikes near…
Atlanta from Marcus Woolf
Afoot & Afield Atlanta: A Comprehensive Hiking Guide, Afoot and Afield, $19
> West Lake and East Lake Trails, Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve
> Park Loop, Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield
> Ocmulgee River Trail, Oconee NF
Charlotte from Jennifer Davis
Best Easy Day Hikes Charlotte, Falcon, $10
> Rocktop Trail, Crowders Mountain SP
> Lakeshore Loop, Lake Norman SP
> Fall Mountain Loop, Morrow Mountain SP
Nashville from Johnny Molloy
60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Nashville, Menasha Ridge Press, $18
> Meriwether Lewis Loop, Meriwether Lewis National Monument
> Flat Rock Cedar Glades and Barrens Hike Trail, Flat Rock Cedar Glades and Barrens State Natural Area
> Narrows of Harpeth Trail, Harpeth River SP