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Waterfalls and Hiking Trails - Tennessee Smoky Mountains

Waterfalls trickle through almost every stream in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Whether you enjoy listening to the cool waters splashing over the rocks or observing the wildflowers, forests and scenes from the hike, the Smokies offers it all. 

Three waterfalls are visible from the roads. The Sinks, 12 miles from the Sugarlands Visitor Center on the Little River Rd. Meigs Falls, 13 miles from the Sugarlands Visitor Center on Little River Rd., where Meigs Creek joins the Little River and Place of A Thousand Drips, located at the end of the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. All others require hiking, and range from easy to strenuous.



Five miles round trip. An easy to moderate, relatively flat cades cove trail leading to the 20 foot high Abrams Falls. Offers the park's largest volume of water and the most photogenic waterfall and hike. This Smoky Mountain Trail begins at the Abrams Falls parking lot at the west end of Cades Cove Loop Rd. Elevation gain is 340 feet. View pictures of Abrams waterfalls trail


About four miles round trip. A moderate hike with a combination of steep ascents and descents leading to the 25 foot high falls. Located on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. Elevation gain is 600 feet.


2 miles there two miles back. A moderate hike up to a small, graceful fall.


1.2 miles each way. Easy smoky mountain trail meandering through a hemlock-dominated forest and crosses three small streams. Grotto waterfalls is distinctive as the only waterfall in the park one can walk behind. Offers a cool, shady, moist retreat for summer hikers and visitors. Located at pull off number 5 on Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.


Four and a half miles round trip. Moderate smoky mountain trail that makes a great day hike. The main mountain trail leads to the top of the falls. A steep, narrow side hiking trail leads to the bottom. This 45-foot fall receives less visitation than many other area falls. Passes through a hemlock, poplar and rhododendron forest to the falls. Hen Wallow Creek, only two feet wide at the top of the waterfalls, fans out to a width of twenty feet at the base. Smoky Mountain hiking trail begins before the picnic area on the road to Cosby Campground. Elevation gain is 520 feet.


One mile there. One mile back. A flat smoky mountain trail with an easy walk. Wander through pines, oaks, rhododendrons,  hemlocks, wildflowers and mountain laurel along the way, to the 30 foot drop. Along the route is Toms Branch WaterFalls and Juneywhank Falls. The hiking trail begins at the end of Deep Creek Rd. just past the Deep Creek Campground in Bryson City, North Carolina. Elevation gain is 100 feet.


The smoky mountain trail leads uphill through mountain laurel and a pine-oak forest to the 35 foot falls. Along the route is Toms Branch Falls and Indian Creek Waterfalls. Located about one-fourth mile beyond the Deep Creek Campground Amphitheater in Bryson City, North Carolina on Indian Creek. 


Two and a half miles total trip. The easiest and most popular waterfall trail in the Tennessee side of the park. Paved, relatively flat hiking trail passes through a pine and oak forest and a series of cascades leading up to the Laurel Falls 60 foot drop. The hiking trail begins at the Laurel Falls parking area on Little River Rd. Elevation gain is 200 feet.


About one and a half miles round trip. Easy to moderate. One third of a mile up the hiking trail is the Lynn Camp Prong Cascades. Located off of Little River Rd. (Highway 73) between Cades Cove and Gatlinburg. Turn at the Great Smoky Mountain Institute sign to the parking area. 


One of three waterfalls easily accessible from the road. No hike required. Meigs Falls has several levels before its 28 ft. cascade over the sandstone floor. Meigs Falls is on a tributary of the Little River and is generally viewed from the pull-off. From downtown Gatlinburg, turn right at Sugarlands Visitors Center onto Little River Rd. and continue 13 miles until the pull-off on the right View pictures of: Meigs Waterfalls


Moderate hike. Mingo Falls features a spectacular drop of about 120 feet. Trailhead is located on the Cherokee Reservation, south of the park, on Pigeon Creek Trail outside the Mingo Falls Campground in North Carolina.


2 miles each way. Easy to moderate. The falls cascade about 20 feet down to another 10 foot drop in to Big Creek. From I-40 in Asheville, take exit 451, the 1st exit inside the Tennessee state line. The trailhead is on the right just before the parking, but doesn't list Mouse Creek Falls as a destination. This is also a horse trail, so no pets are allowed on the hiking trail. 


Technically not a waterfall, but worth the view. The water falls 80 feet and several streamlets fall 10 to 20 feet at a time. Spectacular in the wet season. A small bench at the base of the huge sandstone cliff, provides a retreat to sit and enjoy. Located at stop 15 at the end of the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, and viewable from the road. View pictures of: Place of A Thousand Drips


Five and a half miles round trip. Moderate hike to Rainbow Falls that cascades down 80 foot over a 400 foot rock wall. Crosses LeConte Creek and offers spectacular views at mile five. Wander through shady, cove hardwood forests and mountain wildflower. Great hiking trail for the mushroom enthusiast. One of five hiking trails that leads to Mount LeConte's summit. The hiking trail begins at the Rainbow Falls trailhead on Cherokee Orchard Rd. Elevation gain is 3,820 feet. Rainbow Waterfalls


Four miles each way. A moderate to strenuous hike leading to the park's highest waterfall. Pass through an old-growth forest before reaching the 80 foot, highest single plunging water in the park. From Gatlinburg, go 6 miles north on 321 and turn right on Greenbrier Rd. The parking area is 5-6 miles down Greenbrier Rd. Elevation gain is 2,375 feet.


Located off of the Little River Rd., almost 12 miles from the Sugarlands Visitor Center. Viewing areas are right off the parking lot. If there is not room to park , drive slowly over the bridge and look down. This area is a huge tourist attraction in the summer and local residents use this as their swimming hole.


About a half of a mile round trip. An easy hike. The 80 foot waterfalls can be viewed best in spring when the mountain laurel blooms in the pine-oak forest. Along the route is Indian Creek Falls and Juneywhank Falls. Located one fourth of a mile beyond the campground on Deep Creek Road in Bryson City, North Carolina.



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