Best Waterfalls In Smoky Mountains – 10 Best

The best waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains are popular hiking destinations. Visitors and locals love the waterfalls because of their spellbinding beauty and mystical power. 

If you’re thinking of visiting soon, there’s great news for you: There are plenty of waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains accessible by road. 

From large waterfall lookouts to hidden waterfalls tucked away from prying eyes, these 11 waterfalls will leave you speechless. Read on for more information!

Best Waterfalls In The Smoky Mountains 

There’s a reason why there are so many gorgeous waterfalls in one place, the Smoky Mountains. 

The Great Smoky Mountains are rugged; streams follow steep courses, leading to the overall tumbling. Furthermore, the range is steep, high, and wet. 

Finally, the great smokies majorly have sedimentary geology. The mountain layer rocks are resistant to erosion from running water. 

Therefore you, your children, and your grandchildren will live to enjoy the beauty of these waterfalls. So here is a look at the best waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains. 

1. Abrams Falls 

Abrams Falls 
Source: nps.gov
  • Location: 107 Park Headquarters Road, Gatlinburg, TN 37738  
  • Contact: (865)436-1200 
  • Visit site: Abrams Falls 

Highlights 

  • Picturesque pool 
  • Highest water volume
  • It has an amazing trailhead

Abrams Falls is the largest in the beautiful Smoky Mountains. The waterfall itself is 20 feet in height which isn’t high. But the large water volume rushing over the falls makes up for the lack of height.  

The waterfall is accessible and only a short walk from the parking lot. Abrams Falls is open year-round and is a very popular destination among tourists. 

With its easy accessibility, stunning beauty, and wide appeal, Abrams Falls is a waterfall you must visit if you’re in the Smoky Mountains. 

It has a long, deep pool, which is very beautiful; you’ll love it. The hike trail to Abrams fall is five miles, most people consider the height moderate in difficulty. 

It’ll take around 3-4 hours to walk to Abrams falls and back successfully. Carry clean drinking water and hiking boots because some part of the terrain is rock-sturdy. 

There are several rocks around the waterfall, but don’t climb them. People have suffered serious injuries here and worse. That’s because these rocks/ stones are slippery dues to moisture and algae. 

2. Laurel Falls

Laurel Falls
Source: nps.gov
  • Location: 107 Park Headquarters Road, Gatlinburg, TN 37738 
  • Contact: (865)436-1200
  • Visit site: Laurel Falls 

Highlights 

  • Amazing 2.6 miles of trail
  • 80 feet high
  • Paved trail 

Laurel Falls is another breathtakingly beautiful waterfall in the Smoky Mountains. The waterfall is 80 feet high and is one of the most-visited waterfalls in the area. 

It has over 800 miles of trails, so you can plan and pick a less congested part to visit during peak times. 

Laurel Branch and the waterfall’s names are from mountain laurel. The popular Laurel Falls has upper and lower sections divided by a walkway. Because Laurel is one of the most visited, it has limited parking space at the trailhead. 

The waterfall is usually so busy on weekdays during summer and weekends year-round. Laurel Falls features a 2.3 miles trail that’s paved but a little rough in spots. 

Overall, the Laurel Falls trail is easy to hike; you can do this in 1 or 2 hours. However, the trail has some steep sections that become slippery when it rains. Be careful when there is rain, and keep a close eye on kids/ children in the group. 

3. Grotto Falls

Grotto Falls
Source: mypigeonforge.com
  • Location: 107 Park Headquarters Road, Gatlinburg, TN 37738 
  • Contact: (865)436-1200
  • Visit site: Grotto Falls  

Highlights 

  • Walk behind the waterfall
  • 25-foot high
  • Moderate trail 

Grotto Falls is a must-visit in the Smoky mountains. There is a 3 miles round trip trail that you must complete to get to Grotto Falls. 

It’ll take approximately 2-3 hours to get back to Grotto Falls. Most people consider the trail moderate when it comes to difficulty. 

The trail passes in the beautiful old hemlock forest and extends behind the twenty-five feet high beautiful waterfall. 

This Grotto Fall is unique because it’s the only waterfall you can walk behind in the area. But you should be cautious of algae that makes the rocks extremely slippery. Generally, the cool and moist environment is best for summer hikers and salamanders. 

4. Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls
Source: nps.gov
  • Location: 107 Park Headquarters Road, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
  • Contact: (865)436-1200
  • Visit site: Rainbow Falls  

Highlights 

  • Visible Rainbow on sunny afternoons 
  • Great trail
  • Borders the national park on 3 sides 

Rainbow Falls is yet another beautiful waterfall in the Smoky Mountains. The Rainbow from the mist of this eighty feet high fall is so clear and beautiful on sunny, clear afternoons. Then the light hits the water just right. 

You’ll love its view. You’ll like the beautiful ice formation that creates around the falls  in cold periods.  

A trail between the falls and the trailhead gains almost 1,500′ in elevation. This trail is a 5.4-mile roundtrip, and most visitors consider it moderate. The falls trail extends about four miles to Mount LeConte summit. 

5. Ramsey Cascades

Ramsey Cascades
Source: nps.gov
  • Location:  107 Park Headquarters Road, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
  • Contact: (865)436-1200
  • Visit site: Ramsey Cascades 

Highlights 

  • It’s the highest waterfall in the Smoky Mountains 
  • It has the most strenuous trail
  • Spectacular 

The Ramsey Cascades are the toughest waterfalls to access on the list, yet they are spectacular. It’s the highest waterfall in the Smoky Mountains, 100 feet high. 

The waterfall has an incredible pool that is so breathtaking. The pool has several well-camouflaged salamanders that make it even more interesting. You’ll enjoy the 8-mile round trip with over 2,000 elevation gain feet. 

Most of the trail is along streams and rivers and passes through the old forest. The Ramsey Cascades scenery is unforgettable and in a remote and stirring location.

6. Mingo Falls

Mingo Falls
Source: matadornetwork.com
  • Location: 107 Park Headquarters Road, Gatlinburg, TN 37738 
  • Contact: (865)436-1200
  • Visit site: Mingo Falls  

Highlights 

  • No special permit for reservation access 
  • Easy to access 

The Mingo falls sit right outside the National Park boundary. It ranks among the greatest natural water features in Southern Appalachians. 

Mingo Falls is easy to access and among the Smoky mountains’ loftiest falls. The waterfall is 120 feet tall, and thus it’s among the tallest and most spectacular. Its hike is short, and the climb steps are about 161. 

The trail starts from the Oconaluftee River, which is approximately 6 miles from the park northeast. You can get an amazing view of the waterfall from a different angle on the trail.

7. Hen Wallow Falls

Hen Wallow Falls
Source: hikinginthesmokys.com
  • Location:  107 Park Headquarters Road, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
  • Contact: (865)436-1200
  • Visit site: Hen Wallow Falls 

Highlights 

  • Designated hiker parking area
  • Moderate hike trail
  • 90 feet high

Hike through the rhododendron and hemlock forest to reach Hen Wallow Falls. It is a signed side trail that’ll take you to the fall’s base. 

The beautiful Hen Wallow Creek is approximately 2 feet wide and sits on the falls’ top. The Hen Wallow falls is 90 feet high, which is quite impressive. 

There are numerous salamanders at the fall’s base, but you must look carefully. The waterfall might freeze into an incredible icy column in extremely cold winter weather. 

The hiking trail to Hen Wallow falls is only 4.4 miles roundtrip, and most people consider it moderate in difficulty. If you continue with the trail beyond the falls, you’ll enjoy the view of the impressive old-growth forest.  

8. Indian Creek and Toms Branch Falls 

Indian Creek and Toms Branch Falls 
Source: tripadvisor.com

Highlights 

  • Easy trail
  • 0.7 trail miles 

You’ll have to take an easy 1.6-mile hike to witness the breathtaking waterfalls. The walk trail is approximately 0.7 miles. 

On the way, you’ll get to see the incredible 60′ high Tom Branch Falls which sits on the Deep Creek’s far side. The Indian creek falls are 25 feet high. 

9. Juney Whank Falls

Juney Whank Falls
Source: tripadvisor.com
  • Location: 107 Park Headquarters Road, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
  • Contact: (865)436-1200 
  • Visit site: Juney Whank Falls  

Highlights 

  • It has two sections 
  • Moderate trail 
  • 90 feet high falls 

The Juney Whank Falls has the upper and lower section. You’ll have a great view of both sections on the footbridge in the trail. 

Both sections of the waterfalls drop approximately 90 feet to the beautiful pool at the bottom. The trail to the waterfall is about 0.8 miles roundtrip, and most people consider it moderate. Overall, it’s a great place to visit with your family and friends. 

10. Mouse Creek Falls 

Mouse Creek Falls 
Source: blueridgemountainlife.com
  • Location: 107 Park Headquarters Road, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
  • Contact: (865)436-1200 
  • Visit site: Mouse Creek Falls 

Highlights

  • Beautiful waterfalls
  • Water flows directly into the big creek

You’ll have to hike on the trail that follows the famous old rail. The railroad was quite popular and used during the twentieth century. After 1.4 miles, you’ll reach the popular Midnight Hole, a deep, scenic pool below six feet fall. 

After 2.1 miles, left side trail, there’s a place where you can rest and see the beautiful waterfalls. The falls are on the other side and are 45 feet high. 

Essentials To Pack For A Waterfall Trip

Waterfalls are some of the most beautiful natural sites in the world. They’re also known for being loud, slippery, and wet. That is why it’s important to pack the right things when you go on a waterfall trip. 

A waterfall will test your outdoor skills and determination, so you must prepare well to have an awesome experience. If you’re planning on going on a waterfall trip soon (or live close to one), this article is for you! 

You’ll learn about essential items that will make your trip much more comfortable and safer.

1. Lightweight Shoes

Many people choose heavy hiking boots for their waterfall hikes, which can cause blisters, fatigue, and discomfort. 

Lightweight shoes are much better for waterfall hikes. They are slightly more flexible and offer better traction than hiking boots. They also dry much quicker than hiking boots, which is important if it rains on your hike. 

One important thing to remember is that waterfalls often have lots of rocks and slippery surfaces, so you’ll want a pair of shoes with excellent traction. 

2. Zip-Lock Bags

You can use the zip-lock bags in a variety of ways while you’re on your waterfall trip. You can use them to store your wet clothes if you don’t have a tarp or a nearby tree branch. 

You can also use them to store your food. You will be in the wilderness, so you want to keep your food open. 

You can also use them to protect your phone or camera from the rain. It’s not the best protection, but it’s better than nothing.

3. Rain Gear

The last thing you want is to get caught by surprise in a rainstorm. Especially since you’ll be in the wilderness, you should expect rain if you’re hiking during the fall or spring. A storm can ruin your hike even if the forecast says sunny skies. 

If you’re hiking during the summer, don’t worry too much about a little rain. It still could happen, but you probably won’t be a lot.

4. First-Aid Kit

Accidents happen all the time. You could trip and fall, get stung by a bee, or have other injuries. Having a first-aid kit with you while you’re on your waterfall trip is important. 

You may not think you’ll need it, but you never know when you’ll get hurt. Consider bringing a simple first-aid or even a more advanced kit. 

You can buy lots of first-aid kits from a store, but making your own is possible.

5. Trekking Poles  

Many people will use trekking poles when they go hiking. They do this because it helps them balance and makes long-distance hikes much easier. 

Using trekking poles can reduce the amount of strain on your knees and legs. Using trekking poles can also help you navigate more easily through tricky terrain.

If you have to cross over a river or if you have to walk through a particularly wet area, trekking poles can help a lot. 

If you don’t have trekking poles, you can use sticks or branches from nearby trees. Make sure that whatever you use isn’t poisonous or sharp and can hold your weight.

6. Compass and GPS

If you’re going to a waterfall that you haven’t been to, you should have a compass. There’s no guarantee that a sign will lead you to the waterfall. Even if there is a sign, it could get knocked down. 

Having a compass with you will make finding your way to the waterfall much easier. When you reach the waterfall, you’ll also want to have a GPS with you. 

A GPS can tell you where you are on the map and make it much easier to find your way back to your car. You can also use it to mark your car’s location so you know where it is when you’re hiking.

Conclusion

The article lists the best waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains that are worth visiting. If you plan to visit the area, add these waterfalls to your list. 

The Smoky Mountains have everything from the large and powerful falls to smaller and more serene cascades. Everything about the area is breathtaking, from endless streams and rivers to dense forests and towering peaks. 

Not to mention that there’s also a wide variety of waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains. These waterfalls are so scenic and easy to access. 

Elizabeth Willett (MA)
Elizabeth Willett (MA)
Elizabeth Willett has an M.A in health and fitness, is an experienced trainer, and enjoys teaching children about healthy eating habits. She loves to cook nutritious meals for her family.

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