1. Abrams Falls
Standing just 20 feet high, this waterfall packs a particularly powerful punch thanks to the large volume of water rushing over the falls! A deep pool at the base of this waterfall collects this rushing water making for great scenic photo opportunities. Abrams Falls is named after a Cherokee chief whose village was located just miles downstream. To get to this waterfall you’ll take the Abrams Falls Trail in Cades Cove. This 5-mile round trip trail takes about 3-4 hours and is considered to be of moderate difficulty.
2. Laurel Falls
Laurel Falls is one of the most popular Smoky Mountain waterfalls thanks to its picturesque nature and being the perfect fit for families! This 80-foot tall waterfall is split into an upper and lower section divided by a walkway across the base of the upper falls so you can feel as if you’re truly a part of it. To get to this waterfall you’ll take the Laurel Falls Trail as part of a 2.6-mile round trip hike of moderate difficulty. The trailhead is about 3.5 miles down Little River Road if you’re coming from the Sugarlands Visitor Center.
3. Rainbow Falls
Appropriately named, Rainbow Falls often features rainbows due to the mist produced by this 80-foot high waterfall! Extended winter cold spells cause the formation of ice around the falls making for a sight to behold. Take the Rainbow Falls Trail in the Roaring Fork portion of the park, traveling 5.4 miles round trip as part of a moderately strenuous waterfall hike that gains roughly 1,500 feet in elevation. After you reach the waterfall you can choose to continue on the Rainbow Falls Trail for roughly 4 miles to reach the summit of Mt. Leconte.
4. Ramsey Cascades
Ramsey Cascades is the tallest of all the Smoky Mountain waterfalls, extending 100 feet over giant rocks and collecting in a small pool where you may spot some salamanders camouflaging themselves! This 8-mile round trip hike is considered strenuous and gains more than 2,000 feet in elevation. Much of the Ramsey Cascades Trail follows along rushing rivers and streams making for a scenic hike. To arrive at the Ramsey Cascades Trail you’ll turn into the Greenbrier entrance of the national park and travel for 4.7 miles until you reach the trailhead.
5. Meigs Falls
Meigs Falls is perhaps one of the most underrated waterfalls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park! The rushing water is particularly impressive following heavy rains and during winter these falls can even freeze, making for a sight unlike any other. The best part of Meigs Falls is you can drive to it, making it the perfect option for those with mobility concerns. The pulloff for Meigs Falls is 13 miles west of the Sugarlands Visitor Center on Little River Road. Another option to view this waterfall is from The Sinks parking area.
These Smoky Mountain waterfalls are an excellent way to experience some of the best aspects of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park! Waterfalls are just the start of all the fun you’ll find in the national park. Check out some other things you have to do in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!