There is no doubt there is a ton of fun and adventure waiting to be discovered by you and your loved ones when you visit the Smoky Mountains. However, there are a couple of adventures that stand out to us, especially if you love enjoying the scenic beauty our area is known for, including exploring all of the waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains.
With over 2,000 miles of rivers and streams found within the park’s boundary, we can guarantee there is no shortage of breathtaking waterfalls for you and your loved ones to experience. To find out more about a few of our favorite waterfalls, read below!
Laurel Falls is a stunning 80-foot waterfall split into two sections by a walkway you and your family or group are invited to explore. The base of the upper section has a small pool area, perfect for taking pictures or enjoying a snack. There are even a couple of benches found up here you can sit on to catch your breath before heading back down the trail.
Laurel Falls can easily be considered one of the most popular waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains. This is thanks in part to its convenient location to the Sugarlands Visitor Center, as well as the short paved trail that leads to and from the falls.
Keep in mind, although the trail is paved, the route is a little rough and uneven in places. Because of the roughness of the pavement and the steep grade of the trail, it is not recommended for strollers or wheelchairs.
This trail is also known to be an active spot for black bears. So be sure to properly dispose of any and all trash, as well as keep an eye out during your hike to keep you and your loved ones safe.
Although the waterfall itself is only roughly 20 feet in height, the large amount of water rushing over the rocks makes Abrams Falls one of the most picturesque waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains. Adding to the beauty, there is a long, deep pool that forms at the base of the falls to creates the perfect photo opportunity.
Aside from the waterfall, you and your family or group can expect to find a variety of breathtaking mountain scenery, including a thick pine-oak forest and beautiful rhododendrons. Please note, because of the speed of the water and the strong undertow, swimming is not recommended near the base of the base of the waterfall. However, you are more than welcome to sit on the bank and enjoy the view with your friends and loved ones during a lovely picnic.
The hike to Abrams Falls is a total of 5 miles roundtrip. In terms of time, it should take you all between 3-4 hours to complete. If you plan on embarking on your hike in the afternoon, just keep in mind you may be returning to your car after dark and will want to pack a flashlight.
3. The Sinks
Although The Sinks is a short waterfall in stature, it does see the entire flow of the Little River which makes it one of the most impressive waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains. Not to mention, you and your family or group will love visiting the falls because you can spend the afternoon swimming and exploring the area around it.
If you haven’t visited The Sinks in a while, now is the time! In 2010, this popular area received a major facelift which included the addition of 21 paved parking stalls, stone masonry retaining walls, and cut-stone walkways. All of which add to the picturesque setting found around this popular waterfall.
Meigs Falls is also one of the waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains where you can drive to instead of hike. Located 13 miles west of the Sugarlands Visitor Center, you can easily access this waterfall from a pull off along Little River Road. Keep your eyes peeled when you are driving! The falls is tucked away and can easily be missed from your car.
If you are feeling a little more adventurous. You can also access Meigs Falls from the Meigs Creek Trailhead located at The Sinks we mentioned earlier.
5. Rainbow Falls
Similar to Laurel Falls, Rainbow Falls is an impressive 80-foot waterfall surrounded by the natural beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The name for this waterfall comes from the vibrant rainbow that forms in the mist of the water when the sun hits it on a sunny day.
During the winter, this waterfall is equally as pretty thanks to the impressive ice formation that builds up around the falls when the temperatures dip below freezing.
Even though the hike to Rainbow Falls is a bit strenuous with a gain in elevation of 1,500’, it is well worth it when you finally catching a glimpse of the water cascading over the rocks. Plus, the 5.4 miles of the trail is a great excuse for you and your family or group to get to experience the beauty of the area and sneak in a little exercise to your trip.
Fun fact, if you continue down the trail passed Rainbow Falls, you will reach the summit of Mount LeConte in approximately 4 miles.
With its 100-foot drop, Ramsey Cascades is the tallest out of all of the waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains. It is located in the Greenbrier area of the Smoky Mountains.
To access this scenic waterfall, you and your family will hike along the Ramsey Cascades hiking trail for a total of 4 miles. With a total gain in elevation of over 2,200’, this trail is considered be strenuous. Meaning, you will want to make sure you are wearing sturdy shoes and pack plenty of water.
In addition to the waterfall, this trail is also known for the thick old growth forests that surround the pathway, as well as a ton of scenic views you have to see to believe.
Once you reach the base of the waterfall, keep an eye out for any native wildlife, especially salamanders. Thanks to the ideal climate the cool water and the thick forest provide, Ramsey Cascades is known to house a large amount of salamanders and other amphibian life.
If you enjoyed reading this, check out our blog about 10 Mind-Blowing Travel Facts About the Smoky Mountains.