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6 of the Most Beautiful Waterfall Hikes in the Smoky Mountains

Abrams Falls in the Smoky Mountains National Park
September 25, 2018

One of the best ways to experience the natural beauty of the Smoky Mountains is by going for a hike. Through the 800+ miles of hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you will find plenty of gorgeous sights — including waterfalls. Some of the most popular trails in the park feature picture-perfect waterfalls. At Timber Tops Cabin Rentals, we’ve put together a list of 6 of the most beautiful waterfall hikes in the Smoky Mountains for you to try when you visit:

1. Laurel Falls

Laurel Falls is one of the most popular trails in the national park! The waterfall itself is 80 feet high and includes both an upper and a lower section. The trail is 1 of only 4 paved trails in the park, making it great for families with children. It is 2.6 miles to hike to the waterfall and back and typically takes about 2 hours to complete. Part of what’s so great about this hike is that the upper and lower sections of the waterfall is divided by a walkway, so visitors can actually cross over the falls!

2. Ramsey Cascades

Ramsey Cascades in Smoky Mountains

Ramsey Cascades is the tallest waterfall in the park! Not only is it the tallest, but it’s one of the most spectacular! Though the trail gains more than 2,000 feet in elevation over its 4-mile course to the falls and can be considered strenuous in difficulty, the view of the waterfall makes every step worth it. Water drops 100 feet over rock outcroppings and collects in a small pool at the bottom. Along the trail, you will pass through an old-growth cove hardwood forest that has large tuliptrees, basswoods, silverbells, and yellow birches. It takes about 5-7 hours to complete this 8-mile roundtrip hike.

3. Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls is a gorgeous sight to be seen. On sunny afternoons, a rainbow is produced by the mist from the waterfall. It is beautiful during the winter as well, when an impressive ice formation builds around the waterfall. The hike to and from the 80-foot falls is about 5.4 miles and takes about 3-5 hours to complete. If you want to continue your hike after reaching the waterfall, the trail continues for about 4 miles to the summit of Mount LeConte, the third highest peak in the national park.

4. Grotto Falls

Grotto Falls waterfall in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Grotto Falls is another great waterfall hike in the Smokies that is great for families. To get to the falls, you will hike Trillium Gap Trail for about 1.3 miles until you reach the waterfall. The trail runs through an old-growth hemlock forest. What’s unique about this hike is that the trail actually runs behind Grotto Falls, so you can hike behind the 25-foot-high waterfall! The cool and moist environment near the falls makes it a popular area for salamanders to gather and is great for summer hikers.

5. Abrams Falls

Abrams Falls may only be 20 feet high, but what it lacks in height it makes up for in volume. The large volume of water that rushes over the falls creates a long, deep pool at its base for a picture-perfect scene. The hike to Abrams Falls is about miles roundtrip and takes 3-4 hours to complete. The trail runs through a pine-oak forest on the ridges and a hemlock and rhododendron forest along the creek.

6. Cataract Falls

Cataract falls in smoky mountains

Cataract Falls is one of the lesser known hikes in the Smoky Mountains, but if you’re looking for an easy hike that has it all, this is the one for you. This 1-mile trail is great for families with children. You can see a 25-foot waterfall without having to do any strenuous hiking! The trail is also only 10 minutes from downtown Gatlinburg, so after you’re finished you can take some time to explore all that the town has to offer.

Now that you know some of the best waterfall hikes in the Smoky Mountains, it’s time to plan your hiking trip! At Timber Tops Cabin Rentals, we have wonderful cabins that put you just a short distance from the national park, where you can enjoy all of the picturesque waterfalls. Click here to browse all of our cabins in the Smokies and find the perfect one for your stay.

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