sunrise over Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Top 5 Waterfall Hikes in the Smokies You Have to Try

Laurel Falls in the Smoky Mountains
May 16, 2019

The Smokies are not only home to gorgeous mountain views, but also a number of scenic waterfalls. The trails to get to each of them are unique and full of opportunities for fun. So, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience no matter which ones you choose to visit. To help you plan for an amazing trip, here are 5 of the top waterfall hikes in the Smokies.

1. Laurel Falls Trail

Laurel Falls Trail is one of the most popular hikes in the national park, and is great for all skill levels. The distance to this 80-foot waterfall and back is 2.6 miles, and is worth every step! The falls are divided into an upper and a lower section, and there’s even a walkway that crosses the stream at the top half. On the other side of it, you can stand right in front of the waterfall and take some fantastic photos.

2. Cataract Falls Trail

Cataract Falls in the Smokies

Another one of the best waterfall hikes in the Smokies is the Cataract Falls Trail. Considered a hidden gem in the Smoky Mountains, this 1-mile out-and-back trail is considered to be easy in difficulty. So, it is great for kids and adults alike. In addition to hiking, there are also lots of opportunities for birding along your way to the falls. If you’re planning on viewing wildlife during this hike, it’s always a smart idea to bring a pair of binoculars. The waterfall itself has 2 low-flow streams that make a 25-foot drop. To see the waterfall at its best, hike this trail after periods of heavy rain.

3. Baskins Creek Falls Trail

The Baskins Creek Trail is a 4.8-mile, out-and-back trail that is rated as moderate in difficulty. Whether you’re enjoying some wildlife viewing, trail running or just hiking to the falls, you’re sure to love the beautiful scenery. Though it can be considered a lesser known waterfall, Baskins Creek Falls is a 40-foot, 2-tiered waterfall that you don’t want to miss.

4. Ramsey Cascades Trail

The Ramsey Cascades Trail is an 8-mile, out-and-back trail that is a great option for more experienced hikers. On your way to the waterfall, the trail gains more than 2,000 feet in elevation! At 100-feet, Ramsey Cascades is the tallest waterfall in the park and provides one of the most stunning sights. On the 4-mile course to the waterfall, you’ll pass through an old-growth hardwood forest, where you can see a variety of wildflowers if you visit during the spring or summer.

5. Abrams Falls Trail

Abrams Falls in Cades Cove

Although this waterfall is only 20 feet high, the large volume of rushing water more than makes up for its lack of height. At the base of the falls, there’s a deep pool that adds to the picture-perfect sight. The Abrams Falls Trail is a 5-mile round-trip hike that travels through a pine-oak forest on the ridges, and a hemlock and rhododendron forest along the creek. It takes about 3 to 4 hours to hike to the waterfall and back.

Now that you know a little more about all of the best waterfall hikes in the Smokies, it’s time to start planning your visit. Learn more about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and start planning your visit!