The summer months are a wonderful time to explore all of the scenic trails throughout the Great Smoky Mountains National Park! You will find longer days of sunshine, plenty of available trail options, and fantastic weather! It is warm and sunny during the day, and old-growth forests provide shade on especially hot days! If you do happen to experience a heatwave while you are in the Smokies, there are plenty of ways to keep cool! Here are the top 4 ways to beat the heat for summer hiking in the Smoky Mountains:
1. Get an Early Start on the Trails
One of the best ways to beat the heat for summer hiking in the Smoky Mountains is to get an early start on the trails! The sun rises in the Smokies anywhere from 6:15 AM to 7:00 AM, so rise and shine for a morning hiking adventure! When you get an early start, you can take advantage of lower temperatures and be back to your accommodations in time for an afternoon nap! As a bonus, the hiking trails are generally much less crowded in the early morning so you can enjoy walking at your own pace!
2. Bring Plenty of Water
When setting off on a summer hike in the Smoky Mountains, it is especially important to bring plenty of water to stay hydrated! Even if you are hiking on shaded trails, the humidity can cause you to quickly become dehydrated as your body works to cool itself off. While you might not feel thirsty during your entire trek, you should continuously take small sips of water since there is a limitation on how much water the body can absorb at once. You could still be slightly dehydrated after finishing your hike, so it is essential to keep drinking for a couple of hours after you finish.
3. Wear the Right Clothing and Footwear
Another top way to beat the heat for summer hiking in the Smoky Mountains is to wear the right clothing and footwear! You will want to select a base layer and hiking pants that are thin and dry quickly as you will be constantly sweating throughout your journey. While it may be tempting to wear hiking shorts, keep in mind that long pants offer better protection against potential insect bites and abrasive vegetation. As far as footwear goes, wear a pair of lightweight and breathable hiking shoes or boots. Finally, don’t forget to wear a good sun hat to protect yourself from the sun!
4. Seek Out Trails with Waterfalls and Swimming Holes
The great thing about hiking in the Smoky Mountains is that there are plenty of trails with waterfalls and swimming holes to cool you off! Some of the best Smoky Mountain trails with waterfalls include Ramsey Cascades, Laurel Falls, Rainbow Falls, and Baskins Creek Falls. The mist from the falls can help cool you down. When it comes to swimming holes, don’t miss the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area where you will find easy access to the Little River and several shallow places to swim. The Greenbrier area of the national park is another great summer hiking destination as you will find various swimming holes along the Little Pigeon River to help cool you off!