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Top 6 Hiking Trails with Waterfalls in the Smokies You Have to Do

Ramsey Cascades hiking trail in the Smoky Mountains
January 2, 2024

One of the most popular activities in the Smoky Mountains is hiking. There are many different things you can see along the hiking trails, and one of the most beautiful is a waterfall. You’ll find there are several hiking trails with gorgeous Great Smoky Mountains waterfalls! Grab your hiking gear and head out to find some beautiful natural features. Here are the top 6 hiking trails with waterfalls in the Smokies you’ll want to do:

1. Laurel Falls

laurel falls

If you’re just starting to get into hiking or you’re bringing small children with you, go hike to Laurel Falls. It’s one of the easy hiking trails with waterfalls in the Smokies. The trail is paved, so you can easily take strollers or wheelchairs! It’s about a 2.6-mile roundtrip hike. Some of the path has steep drop offs, so be careful as you hike, and keep a close eye on children. The waterfall at the end of the trail is 80 feet tall, and a footbridge splits it into an upper section and a lower section. It’s a great place to take pictures of the whole family!

2. Cataract Falls

Another great easy hiking trail with a waterfall is Cataract Falls. It's a 1.1 mile rountrip hike to the waterfall and back. The waterfall itself is 25 feet tall and offers the best views after it rains! Other features of the trail include footbridges, a hollow tree, a creek, and wildflowers. This is a hike that anyone in the family can do!

3. Abram Falls

Abrams Falls in Cades Cove

One of the most popular waterfalls in the Smokies is Abrams Falls. Located in Cades Cove, this waterfall stands at 20 feet tall, but is known for the large volume o fwater rushing over the falls! It's about 5 miles to the waterfall and back and considered a more moderate hike, but the gorgeous views make it more than worth it! In addition to the waterfall, the trail runs through a pine-oak forest on the ridges and a hemlock and rhododendron forest along the creek, offering beautiful views of wildflowers. You'll also get views of Abrams Creek!

4. Porters Creek Trail

For a waterfall hike that's great all year round, hike Porters Creek Trail! This trail is 4 mile roundtrip and has an elevation gain of 350 feet. Anyone in the family can hike to this waterfall in the Smokies! Along the hike, you'll see old remnants of historic sites, including the Ownby Cemetery and John Messer's farmsite. At about 2 miles, you'll reach the 60-foot-tall Fern Branch Falls! Porters Creek Trail is especially popular during the spring because of its abundance of wildflowers.

5. Spruce Flats Falls

spruce flats falls in the smoky mountains

Even though the hiking trail to Spruce Flats Falls is 1.8 miles roundtrip, it is considered moderate. This Great Smoky Mountain waterfall isn’t on many maps, making it more of a private hike if you want to avoid a lot of people. Along the way, you’ll also see views of the mountains! Once you reach Spruce Flats Falls, you’ll find there’s a pool at the bottom where you can wade and explore. You might even spot some salamanders!

6. Ramsey Cascades

One of the most difficult hiking trails with waterfalls is Ramsey Cascades. While it is hard, it is definitely worth it. Ramsey Cascades is the largest waterfall in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The roundtrip length is 8.1 miles. Along the way, you’ll cross some foot bridges suspended over water, and the last mile turns very steep. Water falls over many tiers of rocks into a pool of water for a picturesque scene.

Any of these hiking trails with waterfalls in the Smokies will impress you! Looking for a place to stay while you’re visiting the Smoky Mountains? Give yourself an authentic experience by staying at our campground!