For a challenging but do-able waterfall hike with kids, Spruce Flats Falls is a great choice. This hike in the Tremont area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a roughly 2 mile out-and-back to a gorgeous waterfall with some beautiful views along the way. There is a steep climb each way, but our 6-year-old managed with very little difficulty. The trail is well marked, but there are portions with natural terrain (stepping over rocks, crossing shallow creeks), so you need to wear sturdy shoes and be aware of your footing.
The falls has some areas that are safe to play in, so consider bringing water shoes or a change of clothes if your kids want to get wet. And don’t forget to pack water and snacks! With 4 kids hiking and one in a backpack, it took us about 45 minutes each way to complete this hike.
To get to Spruce Flats Falls, go towards Cades Cove at the Y just past Townsend, then turn left in .2 miles toward the Institute at Tremont. Drive 2 miles then turn left into the Institute. You’ll cross a narrow bridge then find parking and a portable potty. Park and head up the gravel road towards trails (you should see signs).