One of the top things to do in the Smokies is to view one of the many beautiful waterfalls in the national park. With the annual rainfall inside the national park between seven and eight feet, it is not difficult to find Smoky Mountain waterfalls, with virtually every trail that goes past a creek or stream hiding a cascade somewhere along its lengths. There are a few particularly well-known falls like Laurel Falls, Abrams Falls, and Rainbow Falls, but here are a few to which you may be able to beat the crowds.
Add Waterfalls to Your List of Things to Do in the Smokies
An excellent introduction to walking and waterfalls is the Deep Creek Trail Loop. At only 1.6 miles and very little elevation gain, even younger walkers can stretch their legs on this path. Alternatively, it can even be enjoyed from the seat of a bicycle. Over its short duration, you will see the elegant Toms Branch Falls, which descend 60 feet over sloping rocks. Just a little farther down the trail is Indian Creek Falls, which are 25 feet tall.
Another waterfall walk on the shorter end of things is Trillium Gap Trail to Grotto Falls. At only three miles roundtrip, it is not particularly strenuous and rewards with a cool environment and old-growth hemlock forest. One aspect of the walk is totally unique, however. When arriving at the falls, the path goes behind the 25-foot waterfall, offering a different approach than any other cascades. Keep your eye out for salamanders, some of which are native only to the Smokies.
Take a Longer Hike for Amazing Views
For a slightly longer walk, head to the Gabes Mountain Trail, a 4.4-mile hike that is beautiful in early summer as the rhododendron blooms. The trail concludes with several steep switchbacks which deposit hikers in front of Hen Wallow Falls, a steep 90-feet waterfall that widens from only two feet at the top to 20 at the bottom. This is another good spot for salamanders.
Among the most spectacular Smoky Mountain waterfalls is Mouse Creek Falls, a trail which is also in the four-mile range. Along the way, you will see Midnight Hole, a beautiful deep pool before a six-foot waterfall. Mouse Creek Falls themselves, however, stretch for 45 feet with excellent volume.
If you are considering adding waterfall walks to your plan of things to do in the Smokies, the park produces a guide called Waterfalls of the Smokies, with maps and photographs of more than 40 cascades. Whichever one you choose, make sure you keep to the trail as the rocks around all of the waterfalls can be extremely slick.
After an afternoon or whole day stretching your legs on the Smokies’ beautiful paths, finish the day in the hot tub or curled up by the fire. Our selection of cabins in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge come with plenty of amenities and extra space. All of them have full kitchens, allowing you to save money by making your meals at home and packing snacks and picnics to enjoy beside Smoky Mountain waterfalls.