The Great Smokies is a popular family hangout throughout the year. Though only a few dare to brave the dense forests in below-freezing temperatures of winters. The crowd is lesser, but the scenes are no less wonderous than any other season. The magical winter wonderland calls you through white thickets, open snowscapes, and sparkling crystalized waterfalls. Welcome the New Year with soulful connections with nature – deep in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park trails.Appalachian Trail (Clingman's Dome): If it has snowed just before, you know it's going to be a beautiful hike on this 7.7-mile section of the Appalachian Trail. The utterly white forest is a winter wonderland that you (or your camera) can't miss. The trail also covers some of the highest points in Maine and Georgia. Combined with the arduous winter weather, snowshoes are a must on this hike to Clingman's Dome.Laurel Falls Trail: Most travelers to the Smokies aim to do this scenic and more leisurely 4-mile hike at least once. This makes the trail crowded throughout the year, except in the winters. The below-freezing temperatures also transform long stretches of the fierce cascade into a crystal palace. Experienced hikers prefer to see the Laurel Falls for its beauty in the winters, though caution is advised.Alum Cave Trail: This trail can be tricky at particular patches, but the beautiful icicle chandeliers hanging from the roof of the caves make up for the challenge. Cross the log bridges at Walker Camp Prong and Alum Cave Creek to enter the trail. The Alum Cave Bluff is only 2.3 miles ahead, through the hardwood forest. Adventure seekers can go beyond the Bluff along the ridges and climb Mount LeConte.Porters Creek Trail: With spectacular mountain views, the 4-mile round-trip trail to the Fern Branch Falls is an ideal family-friendly winter hike in the Great Smokies. The path remains open on lower elevations, even during seasons and snowfall. The Elbert Cantrell farmstead offers a history of early settlers in the Great Smokies over a century.Wildlife Viewing at Cades Cove: The open fields and preserved structures of Cades Cove are top draws when it comes to witnessing the snowscape of the Smokies. There are distinct wildlife appearances throughout the area, especially the seasonal white-tailed deer.Cross-country Skiing from Clingman's Dome: Being the highest point in the Great Smokies National Park and being closed to vehicles during the winter, the 7-mile long Clingman's Dome Road has the ideal elevation for cross-country skiers.Great Smoky Mountains Arts & Crafts Community: Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Sevierville, and a list of other closely knit towns nurture their local handcrafts through the Great Smoky Mountains Arts & Crafts Community. If you have an artistic drive, you will surely benefit from their frequent exhbits.Smoky Mountain Opry: Like the local artisans, Pigeon Forge has a strong bond with its performing artists too. The enriching performing arts culture comes in many forms, including singing, dancing, comedy, and defying stunts.