There are numerous waterfalls in the Smokies that are absolutely breathtaking and serve as the perfect reward for a hike well done! These scenic falls also make some of the most perfect backdrops for pictures. With so many to choose from, you might be wondering which ones you should visit first. To help you plan for your trip, here are 5 of our favorite waterfalls that you just have to see!
1. Laurel Falls
Laurel Falls is one of the most popular destinations in the national park! This 80-foot waterfall is named after the mountain laurel that blooms along the path to get to it. It consists of an upper and a lower section with a walkway crossing the stream at the base of the upper falls. The roundtrip distance to the waterfall is 2.6 miles and takes about 2 hours to complete. The trail is paved, but the pavement is rough and uneven, so strollers and wheelchairs are not recommended.
2. Rainbow Falls
True to its name, the mist from this 80-foot waterfall does indeed create a visible rainbow on sunny afternoons. The roundtrip hike to Rainbow Falls and back is 5.4 miles long and considered to be moderate in difficulty. It also takes about 3 to 5 hours to complete depending on how fast you’re moving, and how often you stop to take pictures of the gorgeous views!
3. Ramsey Cascades
Ramsey Cascades is the tallest of all the waterfalls in the Smokies at a whopping 100 feet! It’s an 8-mile roundtrip to get to the falls and back to where you started. This hike is considered to be challenging, but the views of the spectacular waterfall are worth every step. The trail follows rushing rivers and streams for much of its length, and the last 2 miles pass through an old-growth cove hardwood forest with a variety of lovely wildflowers.
4. Grotto Falls
The trail that leads to and from this waterfall is a 3-mile roundtrip. It meanders through an old-growth hemlock forest and is unique because it actually runs behind Grotto Falls. The environment near the falls is also perfect for salamanders, so you might see a few of these amazing little creatures when you visit.
5. Abrams Falls
Abrams Falls is only 20 feet high, however, the large volume of water rushing over the falls definitely makes up for its lack of height! The waterfall and creek are named for a Cherokee chief of a village that once stood several miles downstream. There’s also a picturesque pool at the base of the falls. Although you might be tempted, you should refrain from swimming in this pool for your own safety. The round trip to the falls and back is around 5 miles and is considered moderate in difficulty.
You’re in for a treat when you visit any one of these gorgeous waterfalls! Be sure to check out all the other exciting things to do in the Smokies for an unforgettable trip!