April 11, 2018
Gatlinburg, TN boasts some of the most spectacular scenery in the world! In addition to gorgeous mountain views, the Gatlinburg area is home to a number of incredible waterfalls. Tucked away amongst the pristine beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, these waterfalls are simply majestic to behold. To help you make the most of your next vacation, we have put together a guide to seven breathtaking waterfalls near Gatlinburg.
At 80 feet high, Rainbow Falls is one of the most impressive sights in the Smoky Mountains. The waterfall takes its name from the rainbow produced by the falls’ mist, which is visible on sunny afternoons. The trailhead for the Rainbow Falls Trail is located in the Roaring Fork area. To reach the Rainbow Falls parking area, turn right at Traffic Light # 8 and follow Historic Nature Trail past the Noah “Bud” Ogle Place. The hike to Rainbow Falls is 5.4 miles round trip and is generally considered moderate in difficulty.
Grotto Falls is another popular waterfall in the Roaring Fork area of the national park. Standing at 25 feet tall, Grotto Falls has the distinction of being the only waterfall in the Smokies that you can walk behind. Grotto Falls is located along the Trillium Gap Trail, which begins at a parking area near Stop # 5 along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. The hike to Grotto Falls is 2.6 miles round trip and is considered moderate in difficulty. If you hike the Trillium Gap Trail on a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday morning you might see a herd of llamas near Grotto Falls! The llamas are used to deliver supplies to a lodge on the top of Mount LeConte.
A visit to Cataract Falls is perfect for families with young children! Located less than 10 minutes away from downtown Gatlinburg, this 25-foot high waterfall is accessible via a hike that is only 0.75 mile long. To reach Cataract Falls, park at the Sugarlands Visitor Center and take the Fighting Creek Nature Trail. Please note that Cataract Falls is much more impressive right after a period of rain (during a dry spell there may be minimal or no water flow), so try to plan your trip accordingly. Do not climb on or around the falls, as this is extremely dangerous.
Laurel Falls is one of the most frequented waterfalls near Gatlinburg. This 80-foot high waterfall is named after the mountain laurel, an evergreen shrub that blooms near the falls during the month of May. To reach the trailhead from Sugarlands Visitor Center, turn towards Cades Cove on Little River Road and drive 3.5 miles to the parking area for the Laurel Falls Trail. The hike to Laurel Falls is 2.6 miles round trip and is considered moderate in difficulty. The Laurel Falls Trail is one of only four paved trails in the national park. If you are hiking with children, be sure to keep a close eye on them, as portions of the trail with steep drop-offs can be slippery when wet.
At 100 feet high, Ramsey Cascades is the tallest waterfall in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Water from the cascades drops over rock outcroppings and collects in a small pool that is known for its salamanders. To reach the start of the Ramsey Cascades Trail, drive 6 miles east of Gatlinburg on Highway 321, turn at the Greenbrier entrance to the park, and follow the signs for the trailhead. The Ramsey Cascades Trail is 8 miles round trip and is considered strenuous in difficulty. Climbing the rocks around the waterfall is dangerous and prohibited.
Hen Wallow Falls is 90 feet high and features a 20-foot wide creek at its base. When it gets very cold during the winter, Hen Wallow Falls freezes into a gorgeous icy column. The trailhead for the Gabes Mountain Trail, which leads to Hen Wallow Falls, begins near the Cosby Picnic Area. The round trip hike to the waterfall is 4.4 miles and it is generally considered moderate in difficulty. On the way to Hen Wallow Falls, hikers will enjoy lovely views of hemlock and rhododendron forest.
Abrams Falls may only be 20 feet high, but it is one of the most powerful waterfalls in the park. Gallons upon gallons of rushing water cascade down the falls into a large, idyllic pool. Abrams Falls takes its name from a Cherokee chief whose village was located nearby. The trailhead for Abrams Falls is located past Stop #10 on the Cades Cove Loop Road. The round trip hike to the waterfall is 5 miles and is considered moderate in difficulty. Swimming in the pool at the base of the waterfall is prohibited and extremely dangerous.
When you stay with Hearthside Cabin Rentals, you can visit all of these stunning waterfalls near Gatlinburg. With everything from 1 bedroom cabins to 18 bedroom lodges, we are guaranteed to have the perfect accommodations for your getaway. To start planning your escape, browse our selection of cabins in Gatlinburg!