Top 10 Smoky Mountain Waterfall Trails Ranked by Difficulty
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The Great Smoky Mountains are full of wonderful sights to behold, and some of the most popular natural features people come to the area to see are waterfalls! To take in the beauty of the falls, you have to hike to most of them, and not everyone is an experienced hiker. But don’t worry, because most of the waterfalls are easily accessible, even if you don’t hike all the time! Here are the top 10 Smoky Mountain waterfall trails ranked by difficulty:
1. Place of a Thousand Drips – Easy
To see the Place of a Thousand Drips, you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your car! This waterfall is made up of several narrow falls that combine into a larger one, and you can find it as you drive along the Roaring Fork Motor Trail towards Gatlinburg. The best time to view the falls is right after it rains, because there will be more water flowing!
2. Cataract Falls – Easy
A great Smoky Mountain waterfall anyone can hike to is Cataract Falls. This easy trail is 1.1 miles roundtrip, and the path is clearly laid out and simple to follow. People of all ages will enjoy this nature walk, especially when you come up on the 25-foot-tall Cataract Falls!
3. Laurel Falls – Easy
One of the most popular easy hikes that has a massive waterfall at the end is Laurel Falls Trail. The trail can be pretty steep at times, but the path is paved, making it easier to navigate since you don’t have to worry about tree roots and rocks. This is a great beginner hike since it is 2.3 miles roundtrip, and your breath will be taken away when you see the two-tiered, 80-foot-tall waterfall at the end!
4. Fern Branch Falls – Easy
Fern Branch Falls is another Smoky Mountain waterfall you don’t want to miss. To get to the waterfall, you’ll hike along Porters Creek Trail, which is considered easy with a roundtrip length of 4 miles. This trail is especially popular in the spring due to the abundance of wildflowers you can see along the path. At about 2 miles in, you will come up on Fern Branch Falls, which stands at 60 feet tall!
5. Baskins Creek Falls – Easy to Moderate
Baskins Creek Falls is arguably one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. While people do hike to it frequently, it’s not quite as popular as some of the other falls on our list. The trail itself to get to this waterfall is 3.1 miles roundtrip, and it is considered easy to moderate. The hike to the falls is fairly easy, but the last portion of the trail descends quite a bit, which is what makes it moderate on the hike back to the trailhead. Baskins Creek Falls stands at 40 feet tall, and it is split into 2 tiers, completely surrounded by rocks.
6. Spruce Flats Falls – Moderate
Another one of the most underrated Smoky Mountain waterfalls you’ll want to see while you’re in town is Spruce Flats Falls. The 1.8-mile trail to get to this waterfall is considered moderate, and it’s technically not on the official park map. However, the trail is frequented by visitors who want to see the falls, so it is easy to follow. Spruce Flats Falls stands at 30 feet tall and has 4 tiers and spills into a pool at the bottom.
7. Abrams Falls – Moderate
Abrams Falls is a popular waterfall hike in the national park, and the trailhead is actually located along the Cades Cove Loop. The roundtrip length of the hike is 5 miles, but many people who haven’t done much hiking have made the trip to see the falls. While Abrams Falls only stands at 25 feet tall, it definitely has the most impressive amount of water rushing over the rocks!
8. Grotto Falls – Moderate
If you want to enjoy a hike through dense forest alongside a creek and see a waterfall, you should hike to Grotto Falls. The trail is about 3 miles roundtrip, and you should be careful along the trail because of tree roots and rocks. This 40-foot-tall waterfall is one of the most popular ones in the national park because it’s the only waterfall you can walk behind. Plus, if you make it early enough on the right day, you could see llamas carrying supplies to the top of Mt. LeConte along the trail!
9. Rainbow Falls – Moderate to Difficult
An incredible waterfall people love to hike to in the Smokies is Rainbow Falls. The trail to get to the falls is considered moderate to difficult, depending on your skill level, and it is 5 miles roundtrip. Rainbow Falls is the tallest single drop waterfall in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, standing at 80 feet tall. It gets its name from the rainbow effect you can see in the mist of the falls in the early afternoon.
10. Ramsey Cascades – Difficult
Ramsey Cascades is the most difficult Smoky Mountain waterfall to hike to, but the sight is absolutely worth the 8-mile roundtrip hike. This waterfall is several small tiers pouring over the side of rocks down into a large pool of water, and it stands at 100 feet tall. People come from all over the world to take in this incredible waterfall.
All of these Smoky Mountain waterfalls are worth seeing when you’re in town. It doesn’t matter if you only see a few or you make plans to explore them all, you’ll have a great time! Are you ready to plan your next trip to the Smokies to explore the national park? Look through our Smoky Mountain vacation rentals, and book your trip today!