Waterfalls are a splendid site, but rarely do you get to walk behind one. Grotto Falls is the only waterfall in Great Smoky Mountains National Park where the trail actually leads you behind the cascading water. Spilling 25 feet down into a mountain stream, Grotto Falls offers a cool retreat on a warm summer day. The trailhead is located on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail and is designated as an easy 2.6-mile round trip hike. The trail offers old-growth forest and is resplendent with carpets of wildflowers in the spring. Perfect for the whole family.
Laurel Falls is one of the most popular destinations in the National Park and it is easy to see why. The stunning 80-foot cascade is framed by the evergreen Mountain Laurel. The falls are easily reached by a paved trail near Sugarlands Visitors Center. The relatively easy 2.3-mile round trip hike can be steep in places. The Park Service does not recommend strollers or wheelchairs. If you arrive in the early morning, you’ll beat the crowds and be rewarded with perfect photography lighting. Bring the whole family.
Abrams Falls is considered the most picturesque waterfall in the National Park. While only 20 feet high, the large volume of water rushing over the falls creates a dramatic scene. The waterfall and creek are named for a Cherokee chief whose village once stood several miles downstream. The trail to the falls features pine-oak forests on the ridges and hemlock and rhododendron forest along the creek. The warnings about swimming are worth heeding! The currents here are dangerous and have swept some to their deaths. Look, but don’t leap!
Sparkling streams, verdant undergrowth and old-growth forests await hikers willing to make the strenuous 8 mile round trip hike to Ramsey Cascades. The destination is well worth it. The 90-foot waterfall literally cascades down rock outcroppings and into pools where well-camouflaged salamanders can be found. Most of the water comes from 6621’ Mt. Guyot, the second tallest mountain in the Smokies. The trail to the waterfall gains 2,000’ in elevation and is considered to be difficult. Wonder and a sense of accomplishment reward the hearty hikers who make the trek.