Smoky Mountain Waterfalls are some of the most spectacular in the South. There are waterfalls ranging from 25 feet to 180 feet! The waterfalls featured here are ideal for those who are more interested in the waterfall itself, than a hike to see it. However, there are some waterfalls featured that do require a few miles of hiking through beautiful nature and scenery. The amount of water tumbling over the rocks at Smoky Mountain waterfalls make them desirable.
Abrams Falls is one of Gatlinburg’s more popular and shorter waterfalls. At 25 feet tall, the height is not what makes it unique. It is the 2.5 miles it takes to get to Abrams Falls where you will see the gushing water flowing over the rocks. Abrams Falls and the water flowing over if produces a large pool of water that is a breathtaking in itself. Cherokee Chief Abram, whose village was not far from the falls, is who the falls was named after.
Laurel Falls is an amazing 80 feet fall, and is one of the Smoky Mountains most popular waterfalls for visitors. It is named after the Mountain Laurel, one of the many delightful flowers in the Gatlinburg area. The Laurel Falls Trail is easy, and the round trip hike is only 2.5 miles.
Juney Whank Falls Loop
Juney Whank Falls Loop is a noteworthy Smoky Mountain waterfall, and like Laurel Falls, it also is a giant at 80 feet tall. The walking trail provided for this waterfall is only .8 miles round trip. When visiting Juney Whank Falls Loop, you can continue along the trail to find 2 more popular Smoky Mountain waterfalls, Toms Branch Falls and Indian Creek Falls.
If the short hike to Juney Whank Falls Loop tweaked your interest, you may want to also check out Mingo Falls. Its trail is moderately difficult, and only .4 miles round trip. Mingo Falls is located on the Cherokee Indian Reservation, and is one of the tallest in the southern Appalachian Mountains at 180 feet tall! If you want to see the beauty of a waterfall without the hike, then Mingo Falls is for you.
Grotto Falls is the perfect Smoky Mountain waterfall for a summer hike. It is located in a dense hemlock forest that provides many shaded areas. This moderately difficult trail is 2.6 miles roundtrip. It runs behind Grotto Falls, which is 25 feet tall, and is perfect for cooling off. This environment is perfect for salamanders. The Great Smoky Mountains are known as the salamander capital of the world.
Ramsey Cascades is an incredible waterfall that many people enjoy seeing. It is the hardest hike on this list at 8 miles roundtrip, but the beauty of the falls is worth every minute. Most of the trail follows along streams and rivers, then it passes through old forest growth. Once you get to the waterfall, you will see over 100 feet of multiple tiers of water and rocks flowing into a pool at the bottom.
Rainbow Falls is another popular waterfall in the Great Smoky Mountains. It is the tallest, single drop waterfall in the national park at 80 feet tall. The trail is 5.4 miles roundtrip. It takes about 4 to 5 hours to hike up and back down the trail. Once you see the waterfall, you’ll see why so many people love to hike to it. In the early afternoon, the light hits the water just right, creating a rainbow in the water, which is why it is named Rainbow Falls.
Hen Wallow Falls
Hen Wallow Falls and the Gabes Mountain Trail are located near Cosby, TN, a beautiful section of the northeastern area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This area is generally less crowded.
Gabes Mountain Trail is a moderate 4.4-mile round-trip path (2.2 miles each way) that rewards you with up close views of a charming waterfall. The trailhead is located at the Cosby Picnic Pavilion, and most of it winds through dense forest.
Eventually you arrive at Hen Wallow Falls, which may not contain the largest volume of water of any falls in the park, but it has a dramatic height with cascading water that spreads 20 feet. The top of the falls reach 90 feet. The main trail leads to the top of the falls, and if you want to see it from the base you can take a side trail that veers down some steeper switchbacks.
Spruce Flats Falls
Waterfalls are one of the most popular sights to visit in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Most of them require a hike – although there are two that can be seen by car.
The trail up to Spruce Flat Falls is approximately 1.9 miles. It shouldn’t take you more than an hour to hike, but it’s rated “moderate”. If you have young children or difficulty getting around, this one may not be for you.
The trail is narrow with rocks and tree roots. It can be slippery if it rains. There’s a steep drop-off. While we don’t want to discourage you, we do want to warn that if you’re careless, it is possible to slide off the trail – this has happened, and the hiker required professional rescue. But if it’s a dry day, and your group is fit and serious about tackling the outdoors, then by all means take this perfect half-day excursion, and claim the reward of Spruce Flat Falls.
Baskins Creek Falls
Baskins Creek Falls is a less visited waterfall at the end of a 1.5-mile one-way, moderate hiking trail. It’s a great waterfall to visit if you prefer avoiding crowds and are willing to do some hiking, but the trip itself requires some planning.
If you desire a lesser traveled trail to a waterfall, and you’re up for a little activity without having to take a very long hike, the hike to Baskins Creek Falls might be for you.
The trail to Baskins Creek Falls is 3 miles round-trip, and is largely downhill, which means back up the mountain on the return. These falls are one of the hidden gems of the park, and they offer a fantastic chance to see a the most compelling natural feature of the park without having to navigate through crowds.
The hike itself is rated moderate, and most people in decent physical shape should be able to complete it without a problem. There is shallow water to cross, so bring a pair of dry socks and a towel. Trekking poles to help stabilize yourself on the uneven terrain is a big help. Make sure you come prepared with drinking water, because you will need it on the steep ascent.
Fern Branch Falls and Porters Creek Trail
Fern Branch Falls is a beautiful 50-foot waterfall that lies along Porters Creek Trail, which is a moderately difficult 4-mile round-trip (2 miles each way) hike in the eastern part of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This trail is one of the less traveled trails that you can drive to.
When most people think of the Great Smoky Mountains they conjure up images of majestic vistas, cool rushing streams, and dense forest. Well, Porters Creek Trail leading to Fern Branch Falls features these kinds of scenes in abundance.
You will cross a log bridge that will take you deeper into the forest towards the waterfall. You’ll also a cemetery and some of the remnants of the Greenbrier Cove settlement. These old structures are also common throughout the area and give you a good sense of the history before the national park was established. Upon arriving at 50 foot Fern Branch Falls, you can get a bite to eat and relax. The trail continues for another 1.7 miles to Campground 31, a back country camping area.
Cataract Falls – Easy and Fun
Cataract Falls is a short and easy walk, which means it’s a great option for all the family, including small children who may tire easily, and inexperienced hikers.
The short trail that leads to Cataract Falls is located behind Sugarlands Visitor Center, which is one of the main entry points to the park from Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.
The trail leading to Cataract Falls is short and easy that still lets you experience some of the singular beauty of the region. The trail is about 1 mile round trip, which makes it accessible for younger and older visitors. Some bring strollers, but keep in mind there may be some spots where you need to pick them up.
The terrain is easy, and this short hike means you can visit the falls and still have time to explore other areas and attractions.
The trail branches off Fighting Creek Nature Trail. When you return you can explore the Fighting Creek trail, which is easy and also not very long.
Whether there are only a few in your group, or as many as 16, My Bearfoot Cabins has a cabin just right for you.
Pat and Don Kirchhoefer, Owners