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Nothing makes a hike more rewarding than stumbling upon a gorgeous waterfall, and many of the most popular hikes in the Smokies include a waterfall somewhere along the trail! Waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains are breathtakingly beautiful all year long, whether they are frozen in the winter or cascading down the rocks in the spring. At Visit My Smokies, we want to make sure you have the chance to see at least one waterfall during your vacation! We’ve put together a list of where you can find the best Smoky Mountain waterfall views:
1. Ramsey Cascades
There’s no beating the view you’ll get when you reach Ramsey Cascades! Though the trail is considered to be strenuous, the view of the 100-foot waterfall rushing over rock outcroppings and collecting in a small pool at the bottom is well worth every step. To get there, you’ll hike 4 miles following rushing rivers and streams and passing through an old-growth hardwood forest with large tuliptrees, basswoods, silverbells and yellow birches. It takes about 5-7 hours to hike to the waterfall and back.
2. Grotto Falls
Grotto Falls offers one of the best views because it’s the only waterfall that you can walk behind! It’s a 25-foot waterfall, and the cool, moist environment near the falls is perfect for salamanders and summer hikers. To get to this beautiful view, hike along Trillium Gap Trail through an old-growth hemlock forest for a little more than a mile until you reach the falls. It takes about 2-3 hours to hike to Grotto Falls and back.
3. Rainbow Falls
Rainbow Falls provides one of the best views in the Smoky Mountains! On sunny afternoons, you can see a rainbow produced by the mist from the 80-foot-high waterfall. It’s even beautiful during the winter when an impressive ice formation builds around the falls. To see this view, hike Rainbow Falls Trail for a little more than 2 miles, during which you’ll gain about 1,500 feet in elevation. Once you reach the falls, you can continue along the trail for about 4 miles to the summit of Mount LeConte, the third highest peak in the Smoky Mountains.
4. Laurel Falls
Laurel Falls is an 80-foot-high waterfall that is another picture-perfect view. The waterfall has both an upper and lower section, and is divided by a walkway that crosses the stream at the base of the upper falls. It’s one of the most popular destinations in the park, and for good reason! To get to the waterfall, hike about 1.3 miles along Laurel Falls Trail. The trail is paved but is rough and uneven in spots, so make sure to watch your step! It takes about 2 hours to hike to the waterfall and back.
5. Huskey Branch Falls
Huskey Branch Falls is just a small 20-foot cascade that tumbles into the Little River, but it offers a picture-perfect scene for hikers to enjoy. It flows down the slope along the hill next to the trail before running underneath a small footbridge. To get to the gorgeous waterfall, you will hike about 2.2 miles from Elkmont along the Little River Trail. Along your hike, you’ll pass through the Elkmont area of the park, which was heavily logged from the 1800s through the 1930s. You’ll be able to see several of the old cottages as you pass through.
Now that you know where to find them, it’s time to go see some of these incredible Smoky Mountain waterfall views! Browse some of the best Gatlinburg cabins to stay in during your vacation and start planning your trip.