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Exploring the 10 Most Beautiful Smoky Mountain Waterfalls

Waterfalls are enchanting no matter where they are. The rumbling of the river as it cascades down, the droplets of water spraying into the air, and the reflection of colors of the surroundings make it beguiling.

smoky mountain waterfalls
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Smoky Mountain waterfalls fall into the category of beautiful waterfalls, one of the most picturesque in the United States. These waterfalls are in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and they attract a large number of visitors annually.

This is one of the most popular destinations for visitors who love to hike, go on a trail, do waterfall hikes, or even a short walk.

1. How to Reach

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to this attraction; there are many ways to reach this scenic national park. The national park lies in two states of the US, Tennessee and North Carolina. The most common way to reach the park is through the southern entrance of the national park near Cherokee, North Carolina.

Visitors coming from the north prefer to enter through Gatlinburg, Tennessee. They use US-441 while using the north route. Apart from these two main entrances, many access points exist to enter the Smoky Mountains National Park and have a weekend getaway.

smoky mountain waterfalls
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Highway 73, near Townsend, Tennessee, gives visitors entry to the Little River Area and the adjacent park roads, Laurel Creek Road, Little River Road, and Tremont Road. Visitors can also enter via Cove Creek Road, at the eastern end of the Smoky Mountains National Park.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is accessible to domestic and international travelers. There is no entrance fee to experience the splendor of the Waterfalls, its changing colors during the seasons, and the hiking trail that stretches to approximately 800 miles.

The Great Smoky Mountains and the Smoky Mountains Waterfalls are a haven for photographers, nature, and adventure lovers, and some of the best waterfall hikes in the US are here. Together they make a charming combination and will captivate all the visitors who travel there. 

The Little River Road snakes its way through the Little River for quite a distance while driving from Gatlinburg to Cades Cove. The mountain and forest scenery, the waterfalls, and other attractions you experience are visually appealing. The Little River Road commences from Sugarland’s Visitor Center in the Great Smoky Mountains, near Gatlinburg.

smoky mountain waterfalls
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The entire Little River Road is abundant with scenic picnic spots where you can take a break to enjoy the natural beauty of the surroundings. There are signposts indicating the beautiful spots, making it easy for visitors to decide where to halt.

1. The Smoky Waterfalls

The Smoky Mountains National Park is believed to have a lot of waterfalls within its boundaries. On one trip, you can easily see the Grotto Falls, Rainbow Falls, and Baskin Creek Falls. Some of the famous waterfalls in this region can be clubbed together, and an easy hike can be planned. Let us look at some of the most famous waterfalls of the Smoky Mountains and why visitors find them enthralling.

None of these waterfall trails allow pets; the only trails where pets can be taken are the Gatlinburg Trail near Sugarland’s visitor center and the Oconaluftee River Trail near the Ocanaluftee visitor center.

Black bear spotting is expected near the waterfall trails you undertake while visiting the Smoky Mountains Waterfalls. 

1.1. Abrams Falls

Abrams Falls Smokey Mountains Summer
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The Abrams Falls, one of the waterfalls, was named for a Cherokee chief whose village was downstream. The waterfall is 20 feet high, and a trail to the Abrams Falls can be taken off the Cades Cove loop road.

Once you reach Abrams Creek, you reach a grassy field and parking lot close to the fall trail. The area around the waterfall is slippery and dangerous, and it is advisable not to get into the water.

The Abrams Falls trail in Cades Cove takes a couple of hours, and visitors can find it challenging. Pets are not allowed on this trail, and visitors are advised to read the water safety information before they commence.

1.2. Baskin Creek Falls

Baskins Creek Falls is another famous waterfall in the Smoky Mountains waterfalls and has one of the best waterfall hikes inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This two-tiered waterfall has one of the most famous waterfall hikes and is a great visitor picnic spot. It is also known to be one of the most popular Pigeon Forge sights for visitors.

This waterfall can be accessed off the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. Basins Creek Trail is one of the eight popular trails along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.

The hike here can be done with moderate difficulty, and views of the 40-foot waterfall will leave you astounded at the beauty of the National Park. A waterfall hike to the Baskin Creek Falls should be avoided during rain.

1.3. Cataract Falls

Upper Cataract Falls Indiana Long Exposure
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Like any National Park, the Smoky Mountains National Park’s hiking trails beckon visitors who love adventure and outdoor activities. Cataract Falls is another waterfall in the Smoky Mountains Waterfalls, and it is less than a ten-minute hike from Gatlinburg. The hiking trails here are exhilarating for adults as well as kids.

The hiking trails to this waterfall are beautiful, capturing the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the fullest. The waterfall is a 25-foot drop, and kids will love crossing the Fighting Creek bridge to reach this waterfall.

1.4. Indian Creek Falls and Tom Branch Falls

Another attraction is the Indian Creek Waterfalls. Since the hiking trail of the Indian Creek Falls is relatively easy, the waterfall hikes to this place are combined with waterfall hikes to Tom Branch Falls. This is the best way to see the appeal of these two falls, the Indian Creek Falls and the Tom Branch Falls, at close quarters.

The Indian Creek can be reached via the Deep Creek Trail, and wildflowers are abundant along the trail, which adds to the color and hues of the Great Smoky Mountains. You have to go beyond the Tom Branch Falls to reach the Indian Creek Falls Trail.

smoky mountain waterfalls
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You can indulge in an additional waterfall hike by doing the Deep Creek Trailhead and visiting the Juney Whank Falls in the same area. Though pets are prohibited while hiking in the deep creek area, visitors can use bicycles.

Visitors can opt for a Deep Creek Trail that includes trails to the Juney Whank Falls, Tom Branch Falls, and the Indian Creek Falls and soak in the magnificence of the Waterfalls and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The Juney Whank Falls has an upper and lower section like the Laurel Falls.

1.5. Ramsey Cascades Waterfalls

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park boasts the region’s most popular and picturesque waterfalls. The Ramsey Cascades hikes and this tallest waterfall take visitors to experience the beauty of the National Park and feel close to nature.

Tumbling down from 100 feet, the Ramsey Cascade Waterfalls is the tallest in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You get to see some beautiful sights on the Ramsey Cascades Trail hiking trails. The trail to Ramsey Cascades is strenuous and challenging, and you get to see some large and old trees that will take you into the midst of some history.

1.6. Hen Wallow Falls

This is one of the many waterfalls hikes you can undertake while going to the Great Smoky Mountains. The Hen Wallow Falls is on a short side trail off the Gabes Mountain Trail. Like the rest of the Smoky Mountains National Park waterfalls, this one is spectacular and is a good choice for a day picnic while visiting the Smoky Mountains waterfalls.

The Hen Wallow Falls is located in the northeast section of the national park, and this tall horsetail waterfall will leave visitors astounded with its sheer elegance and scenic charm. During winter, a trip to the Hen Wallow Falls is equally exciting, and the ice formations and the frozen waterfall cascade resemble a picture postcard.

1.7. Laurel Falls

serene waterfall nature scene
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The Laurel Falls trail is the best way to appreciate the outstanding beauty of the waterfall. The hike to the 80-foot Laurel Falls is comparatively easy compared to the other hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The upper and lower sections of Laurel Falls are some of the best waterfall hikes you can do when deciding on a hike. Laurel Falls is named after the mountain shrub Laurel and is one of the best waterfall hikes because of the paved trail and the manageable elevation gain. Laurel Falls trail is suitable for all those who do not want to experience a challenging waterfall trail.

1.8. Mingo Falls

Mingo Falls is another magnificent waterfall in the Smoky Mountains waterfalls. Mingo means ‘Big Bear’ in the Cherokee dialect, and the sheer size of this waterfall will leave you in awe. It cascades down from 120 feet, and a hiking trail around this waterfall requires stamina and strength.

If you are fit, this hiking trail is worth experiencing, and the waterfall plunging down the rocky cliff is a sight to behold. The Mingo Falls are near the park’s south entrance, and the first leg of the Pigeon Creek trail is around 160 steps. Once you climb, access to the wooden bridge under the Mingo Falls is easy.

The summer season is the optimum time to view this waterfall when there is a profusion of rhododendrons and mountain laurels. An early morning hike is the best way to avoid crowds and enjoy your hiking trail.

1.9. Grotto Falls

Great Smoky Mountains Grotto Falls Summer
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Take the Trillium Gap Trail on the Grotto Falls trail, and you cross four streams on this moderate trail. Once you start from Light 8 Gatlinburg, you must turn to the Historic Nature Trail. After driving approximately 2.2 miles on Cherokee Orchard Road, you reach the Cherokee Orchard Loop. The Grotto Falls is near the parking lot of the Roaring Fork.

This short roundtrip hike takes 2-3 hours for an average hiker. They can also enjoy the lushness of the landscape and enjoy sunny afternoons in the area around the falls. The trip includes the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, and it is before you reach the Trillium Gap Trail, which can be termed one of the best waterfall hikes in the park.

The old forests and the gurgling sound of the streams are sights and sounds that will energize you. This 25-foot waterfall is one of the excellent waterfall destinations in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

1.10. Rainbow Falls

After Ramsey Cascades Waterfall, Rainbow Falls is the tallest waterfall in the Smoky Mountains Waterfalls at 80 feet. It derives its name from the rainbow visible during the sunny afternoons in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The Rainbow Falls Trail is moderate in terms of difficulty and lasts approximately four miles. It goes beyond the falls to the summit of Mount LeConte. The time duration and elevation of the Rainbow Falls trail can be strenuous for many visitors who visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The best waterfall hikes do not end here. There are the Fern Branch Falls and Porters Creek Trail, the Lynn Camp Prong Trail, Mouse Creek Falls Trail, Trillium Gap Trail, the Big Creek Trail, Middle Prong Trail, the Juney Whank Falls Trail, Midnight Hole Waterfall Trail, and other waterfall trails the Great Smoky Mountains National Park one of the much-in-demand National parks in the US to visit.

If you opt for the Big Creek Trail, you can visit the Midnight Hole Waterfall and the Mouse Creek Falls. Mouse Creek Falls is scenic and enchanting, like the other waterfalls in the park.

2. Deep Creek Campground

For visitors who love camping, the camp at the Deep Creek area offers good campsites where you get fabulous views of the Great Smoky Mountains. Visitors experience primitive camping, and the Smoky Mountains never disappoint with their splashes of wild colors.

The Lynn Camp Prong trail suits camping, hiking, and horseback riding. The other activities and history that can be experienced, along with the waterfall trails, make visiting the park possible.

3. Cherokee Indians

For all those who love history and going back in time, make a Cherokee Indian reservation and experience the culture and history of this ancient tribe. The visitor center will help you with the reservations. This is one of the other attractions while visiting the Smoky Mountains Waterfalls and the National Park.

4. In the End

If you are looking for a weekend getaway amid nature and looking forward to doing a waterfall hike, experience an easy hike and longer hike through famous waterfalls, see some historic sites, and go on the trails to the summit of Mount LeConte, offer some of the best waterfall hikes.

I hope you have an idea of the best waterfall hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains, and it will now be easy to decide on which trail to choose from to have an incredible experience.

Last Updated on March 1, 2024 by Sathi Chakraborty

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