Most people like to have an end goal when they hike. There are plenty of waterfall hikes in the Smoky Mountains, which are great sites to see at the end of a hike! With a variety of difficulty levels, you’re sure to find a trail that suits you and your family. Look at these 5 waterfall hikes in the Smoky Mountains you don’t want to miss:
1. Cataract Falls
Taking kids on a hike with you? Hike the Cataract Falls trail! This water hike in the Smoky Mountains is only 1.1 miles roundtrip, making it the perfect nature walk for anyone! The trail is marked, so it is easy to navigate the path. You’ll walk past streams and across a foot bridge. In the spring, you’ll find all kinds of wildflowers, and you might spot some wildlife along the way! The kids will love seeing Cataract Falls at the end of the trail. Take everyone on this easy hike for a ton of fun on your trip!
2. Laurel Falls
Even though it’s one of the most popular waterfall hikes in the Smoky Mountains, Laurel Falls is definitely a natural feature you have to see. The trail to Laurel Falls is paved because this used to be the way to a firetower, and to make it easier to access, the park paved the trail. The hike is 2.4 miles roundtrip, making it fairly simple for families. There are steep drop offs throughout the trail, so keep a close eye on your kids. Once you reach the end of the trail, you’ll come up on the 80-foot-tall waterfall. A footbridge cuts the waterfall into an upper section and a lower section. You’ll love taking pictures in front of the waterfall!
3. Spruce Flats Falls
The trail to get to Spruce Flats Falls is considered moderate and has a roundtrip length of 1.8 miles. This trail isn’t on the official Great Smoky Mountain National Park map, but the waterfall is visited often because of its scenic beauty. Before you reach the falls, you’ll cross streams and continue uphill then go downtown. The waterfall has 4 tiers of water and has a height of 30 feet. The water from the falls goes into a pool into the Spruce Flats Branch river.
4. Grotto Falls
Grotto Falls is one of the more unique waterfall hikes in the Smoky Mountains. The trail starts out on Trillium Gap Trail, and with a roundtrip of 2.6 miles, it is considered moderate. To get to the waterfall, you’ll have to cross some small streams. The path is well worn and easy to follow. When you get to Grotto Falls, you should be careful since the rocks are slippery. Grotto Falls is unique because it’s the only waterfall in the Smokies you can actually walk behind. You’ll also probably see a ton of salamanders at this waterfall.
5. Ramsey Cascades
If you’re a hobby hiker, you should definitely go see the Ramsey Cascades. The roundtrip length of this trail is 8.1 miles, and it is considered strenuous. The most elevation gain comes at the last mile of the trail, which is rocky and steep. Ramsey Cascades is the tallest waterfall in the park, at over 100 feet tall. There are several tiers of the falls, making it a beautiful sight. You can also find salamanders in the pool the water falls into.
No matter your skill level, there are plenty of waterfall hikes in the Smoky Mountains you can go on. If you’re wanting to know what else there is to do in the Smokies, look at our Gatlinburg attractions page for more information.