A vacation to Gatlinburg, Tennessee wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that’s right on the doorstep of the tourist town. While there are many hundreds of miles of hiking trails to be explored, some of them lead to beautiful Smoky Mountain waterfalls that are part of this great landscape. Let’s talk about the 4 that are not only stunning, but also are an easy drive away from the bustle of Gatlinburg.
1. Cataract Falls
Of all the Smoky Mountain waterfalls with a trail, this one is the easiest, most kid-friendly hike. Simply drive to the Sugarlands Visitors Center, a short 2 miles from Gatlinburg, and outside the building you will see signs pointing you the way to Cataract Falls. Most of the trail is paved and well-maintained, and the waterfall drops 25 feet into a small pool below. It’s a great waterfall for those who aren’t ready for more ambitious hikes.
2. Laurel Falls
One of the most popular Smoky Mountain waterfalls is located just a short drive down the road from Sugarlands Visitors Center. Laurel Falls is another fairly easy hike in which the trail is paved. It’s popularity is due in large part to these two things, and the fact that it’s quite awe-inspiring too. Totaling 80 feet in height and separated by a walkway that divides it into an upper and lower section, it can be quite the gusher after some heavy rains. It’s a heavily visited falls, so a morning trip is recommended to get some really nice pictures of this grand spectacle.
3. Grotto Falls
Grotto Falls is located on the Trillium Gap Trail, which can be accessed by a drive — or a hike — from the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. This is a spectacular display made even more thrilling as being the only one of the Smoky Mountain waterfalls that you can walk behind. If you’re just hiking to the falls and back, it’s a 2.6 mile hike that’s not too strenuous; however, the gradual incline to the falls can be tiresome. That just means the hike back to your car is that much easier. Grotto Falls is a great waterfall to take the kids, as they will surely enjoy this display of nature.
4. The Sinks
Most Smoky Mountain waterfalls, big or small, need to be hiked in order or to be seen. The Sinks, however, is one of the few exceptions. Located along Little River Road 12 miles from Sugarlands Visitors Center, it’s not so much a large waterfall as it is a picturesque one, making a few twists around some large boulders in the river creating a magnificent sight. The Sinks is another popular place for visitors to stop, so this is another waterfall you’ll want to see early if you want to get a parking spot in the lot.
You’ll be glad you decided to stay with us at Black Bear Inn & Suites. In fact, our great location on the Parkway allows you skip the heaviest areas of traffic in town no matter what time you decide to head into the park for a visit to one of these Smoky Mountain waterfalls. Of course, our rooms and suites are pretty awesome too, so be sure to book one now and start planning the perfect vacation!