Have you ever been to a waterfall? The artwork of nature that washes away your worries and leaves you in awe? If you haven’t, put it on your bucket list. You can’t truly appreciate the wonders of the elements unless you experience them firsthand.
The refreshing mist that lands on your face as you stand at the edge of a roaring waterfall is an unforgettable experience. The fresh, cool breeze that caresses your face and the beauty of milky white water tumbling over giant rocks can invigorate even the most tired soul.
One crowd-pleasing destination that has several must-see waterfalls is the Smoky Mountains. Home to over a hundred enchanting waterfalls, the Smoky Mountains is a recipe for soul nourishment and relaxation.
If you’re ready to put yourself in touch with nature, here are the most mystical waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains you shouldn’t miss:
1. Cataract Falls
The mesmerizing, easily accessible Cataract Falls are located near Gatlinburg. A short, half-mile hike will take you to the falls, where you can bask in the glory of the 50-foot cascade that pools in a small, idyllic pond. The trail to Cataract Falls takes roughly two hours to complete. Since most of the path is paved and well-maintained, you can bring your kids along without any worries. If you’re travelling with your furry, four-legged buddy, put on a leash and let them live a day full of happy howls and wagging tails.
Most importantly, get comfortable accommodations to ensure you and your family have a good resting place after a day of exploring. Since the falls are closest to Gatlinburg, you can rent the gatlinburg cabins to spend some tranquil days in nature’s lap.
2. Grotto Falls
Tucked away in the Trillium Gap Trail, Grotto Falls is one of the most famous waterfalls in this region. The lush green alcove underneath the overhanging lip makes it truly unique, allowing visitors to walk behind the glittery sheet of stunning water.
The round-trip hike to Grotto Falls is three miles long and takes about four hours to complete. Walking amidst the lush plantation of hemlock and rhododendron is a mesmerizing experience. The best time to see Grotto Falls is during the spring when the surrounding area is blanketed in a colourful array of wildflowers.
3. Abrams Falls
Abrams Falls is your best bet if you’re looking for a moderate hike with an incredible payoff. The 20-foot tall, thundering cascade is one of the most photographed waterfalls. Although it’s not the tallest or the widest waterfall in the park, Abrams Falls is one of the most beautiful.
The round-trip hike to Abrams Falls is five miles long and takes about five hours to complete. The trail is well-maintained, with plenty of rest areas along the way. Be sure to take your time and enjoy the incredible views of the Cades Cove Valley. The sandstone brink and the deep pool at the base of Abrams Falls make it one of the most loved swimming holes.
4. Laurel Falls
Eighty feet tall and cascading over a vast, jade-coloured pool, Laurel Falls is one of the most iconic waterfalls. Laurel Falls is a mildly challenging, two-mile hike from the Sugarlands Visitor Center. Due to its rocky surface, the path may not be suitable for strollers, toddlers, and wheelchairs. Although the hike is short, it’s relatively steep, with an elevation gain of 400 feet.
The best time to witness Laurel Falls is in the spring when the wildflowers are in full bloom. You can also visit Laurel Falls in the winter when the falls are partially frozen and resemble a scene straight out of a fairytale.
5. Rainbow Falls
The place where hearts go to mend and broken dreams go to die, Rainbow Falls is a popular waterfall in the Smoky Mountains. The 80-foot tall, five-story cascade is a magnificent sight to behold. The round-trip hike to Rainbow Falls is six miles long and takes about six soul-searching hours to complete. The trail is strenuous and rugged, with several creek crossings along the way.
But, if your calves and quads are up for the challenge, you’ll be rewarded with one of the most incredible views in the Smoky Mountains. You can also follow the Rainbow Fall trails further up to the Mt. Cammerer fire tower for an even more breathtaking view.
6. Ramsey Cascades
It’s the tallest waterfall in the park, plunging 100 feet over a rocky cliff into a pool of cool, refreshing water. The eight-mile round-trip hike to Ramsey Cascades is not for the faint of heart. It’s strenuous, with an elevation gain of more than 2,000 feet. The trail is rugged and challenging, but the breathtaking views of the cascades are worth every drop of sweat.
Allow the quietness of the forest to wash away your worries and soothe your soul.
7. Mingo Falls
Rocks covered in green moss, a sparkling cascade of water tumbling over jagged cliffs, and a fabulous, refreshing pool at the base of the falls – Mingo Falls has it all. The 120-foot tall waterfall is nothing short of spectacular. The round-trip hike to Mingo Falls is only half a mile long. If you stroll and inhale the fragrant smells of the forest, it’ll take you just a few minutes to reach the falls.
The best time to visit Mingo Falls is in the early morning when the sun is just starting to peek over the horizon. The soft rays of sunlight bounce off the water and create a rainbow of colours. It’s a truly magical sight. Since it’s a popular spot, Mingo Falls can get crowded. If you want to enjoy the falls in all their glory, arrive early.
8. Hen Wallow Falls
Faraway in a remote corner of the park, Hen Wallow Falls is one of the best-kept secrets of Tennessee. The 90-foot-wide horsetail waterfall is one of the tallest in the park. The rock-strewn trail to the falls is about four miles long, making it a great half-day hike. The trail is moderately strenuous, with an elevation gain of about 1,000 feet.
If you wish for the falls to be all yours, you’ll need to get an early start. The trail is relatively popular owing to its proximity to the Cosby Campground. Plus, the soothing sounds of the waterfall are hard to resist. If you manage to visit during the winter, the ice formations will wow you.
Can’t wait to explore the Smoky Mountains and check out these waterfalls? We don’t blame you. Each mentioned waterfall is a piece of natural art and worth the hike. Just remember to come prepared with plenty of water, snacks, and a camera to capture all the breathtaking views.
What’ll win you over – the thundering cascades, the cool pool of water at the base of each fall, or the fragrant smells of the forest? No matter what draws you in, these waterfalls will surely leave you mesmerized. So, lace up your hiking boots and hit the trails – your waterfall adventure awaits.