Each year, around 11 million visitors visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. While there are remote areas and difficult trails that deter many visitors, trails that are conducive to novice hikers can quickly become crowded during peak visiting seasons.

Fortunately, East Tennessee offers wide variety of options to get back to nature.

"East Tennessee has access to so many wonderful, important, beautiful areas that need to be enjoyed," avid hiker Cindy Spangler said.

Spangler grew up hiking, but for those who are just beginning to explore the activity she recommends starting small.

"Know that sure you could probably walk five miles on the greenway, but maybe not five miles on a mountain trail," Spangler said. "Don't make it a race, just know that you're going to take your time and enjoy it, and if you're tired find a trail that's just an out-and-back so that you can turn around and just come right back to your car."

Spangler says there are plenty of options for people in East Tennessee to ease into hiking while also avoiding crowds.

Within a drive of about an hour and a half from Knoxville, there are five National Park Service sites in addition to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park each with unique scenic qualities.

Read more from WBIR's website.