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Popular places to see fall foliage in the Great Smoky Mountains

Now, before you load up your camera and hit the road, you’ll want to be a little strategic with your journey to get those prime fall photos.

SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. — Nothing beats fall in the Great Smoky Mountains. Who doesn’t love seeing our beautiful national park blanketed in red, orange and yellow?

Now, before you load up your camera and hit the road, you’ll want to be a little strategic with your journey to get those prime fall photos.

Color changes usually start in mid-September in the higher elevations. The mid to lower elevations peak around mid-October to early November.

October tends to be the busiest time for fall visitors so be patient and plan ahead.

RELATED: How to predict peak fall foliage in the Smokies

You'll also want to pack a few things along with your camera:

  • Water: It's important to stay hydrated.
  • Comfortable walking shoes: You'll need to hike to some of these places.
  • Layers: It gets quite chilly, especially in the higher elevations.

Here are some of the most popular hikes and drives for fall foliage in the Smokies.

RELATED: Where to see fall foliage near you in East Tennessee

Hikes

Cades Cove- one of the most popular destinations in the park, on the Blount County side, several trails connect here, drive the Cades Cove Loop

Clingmans Dome- 1-mile round trip, paved and leads to a lookout, moderate difficulty

Look Rock Tower- 1 mile round trip hike; access from the Foothills Parkway

Alum Cave Trail- 5 miles round trip, moderate difficulty, continue for 5 miles more to just below the summit of Mount LeConte, Inspiration Point

Appalachian Trail- access at Newfound Gap or Clingmans Dome

Sutton Ridge Overlook- access near Cosby Campground entrance; Cosby Self-guiding Nature Trail past the amphitheater to the beginning of the Lower Mount Cammerer Trail to Sutton Ridge

Drives

Foothills Parkway- westbound runs from Walland to Chilhowee, eastbound runs from Cosby to I-40 exit 443, many scenic overlooks and pullouts 

Cades Cove Loop- 11-mile, one-way road, one of the most popular destinations in the national park

Clingmans Dome Road- 7 miles, leads to Clingmans Dome parking lot, many scenic pullouts

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail- 5.5 miles, one-way, loop road, accessible through Gatlinburg

Newfound Gap Road- also known as U.S. 441, many scenic overlooks and pullouts, crosses the Tennessee/North Carolina state line