Hiking | Cherokee, NC

How will Cherokee affect you?

On your North Carolina getaway, put a Smoky Mountains spring in your step.

With over 800 miles of hiking trails, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to some of the most exquisite natural beauty in the country. Hiking trails range from rugged backcountry trails to relatively easy walks in the woods. Expect to see wildlife–from eagles and hawks to a deer exploring a cove with her fawn. If you happen to be hiking along the north bank of the Tuckaseegee, watch out for the Uktena: the legendary great horned serpent with the talismanic diadem. Be sure to bring a tomahawk just in case.

The Oconaluftee River Trail is a short, 1.5-mile trail connecting the GSMNP Visitor Center with Cherokee, near the Saunooke Village area. It's an easy walk, and the only area trail where dogs and bicycles are allowed.

Drive out Big Cove Road 5.1 miles from Saunooke Village and take a short uphill trail to the beautiful Mingo Falls. Difficulty: moderate. 600 yards round trip.

Both the Oconaluftee River Trail and Mingo Falls are on the Cherokee map on this site. Visit a Cherokee visitor center for more hiking trail recommendations. 


Rope Swing

Swing into summer.

If you've ever wanted to do your best Tarzan impression and swing on a rope followed by a deep dive into a cool, clear river, we have the adventure for you. Though the rope swing we’re describing is a little challenging to get to, most agree it’s well worth your while to find. There are two routes: either begin with a tubing adventure on the Oconaluftee, so you eventually float down and find the area the locals refer to as Piney Grove Beach or take Big Cove Road and take a local with you. It isn’t easy to find if you take the road, but very easy if you access it via tube. You’ll discover the rope swing is part of a big swimming hole near the river, so there’s plenty of fun to go around. The Cherokee Welcome Center can get you started in the right direction.


Devil’s Courthouse

Explore Judaculla's Dance Hall, known as Devil's Courthouse, another scenic destination for giant chasers. Beyond it, Looking Glass Rock and Pilot Knob carry stories of the giant and make great picnic spots. 

Judaculla Old Fields

View Judaculla’s Farm, now called Judaculla Old Fields, from the Blue Ridge Parkway, and then fish for trout in the Tuckaseegee River.

Judaculla Rock

Take a scenic hike to Judaculla Rock to see the ancient petroglyphs considered by the Cherokee people to be Judaculla’s footprint.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Cherokee is situated just outside the gateway to the legendary Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of the most beautiful, biodiverse parks in the Southeast. World-class hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and horseback riding are available in this wooded paradise at Cherokee’s doorstep.

Mingus Mill

Visit Mingus Mill near the Mountain Farm Museum, and explore one of the most historic sites in the region, surrounded by some of Cherokee country’s finest hiking trails and numerous historic landmarks. Mingus Mill is the ideal place for those looking to immerse themselves in the natural world of the Cherokee people.

Oconaluftee River Trail

Take a walking tour along the beautiful Oconaluftee River Trail. From the start of the trailhead, wander along the banks of our pristine river, enjoying natural quiet spots and informative trail markers, before arriving at the Mountain Farm Museum, a collection of some of the oldest cabins and log buildings in all of Cherokee.

Sample Trips