|Ramsey Cascades, courtesy Great Smoky Mountains NPS.|
All across the park, the steep grade of rivers and creeks has carved down to erosion-resistant layers that suddenly drop-off. A few waterfalls top 90 feet in height.
Most of these can be reached via a day hike. They include:
• Ramsey Cascades – Water spills over 100 feet of cascades, a great reward for the strenuous 8-mile round trip hike. Park at the trailhead along Greenbrier Road.
• Juney Whank Falls – The 90-foot falls, split into two sections, is easy to reach via the 0.8-mile round trip Juney Whank Falls Trail. Park at the end of Deep Creek Road north of Bryson City, N.C.
• Hen Wallow Falls – The Gabes Mountain Trail runs 4.4 miles round trip to the 90-foot falls. Park in the lot designated for hikers at the Cosby Picnic Area.
• Rainbow Falls – At 80 feet, this is the park’s highest single-drop waterfalls. Reaching it requires a 5.4-miles round trip hike uphill, but there are several other small falls along the way to enjoy.
• Laurel Falls Trails – A picturesque 80-foot waterfall awaits day hikers on the Laurel Falls Trail. The easy-to-reach trail runs 2.6-miles round trip from a lot at Fighting Creek Gap.
• Mouse Creek Falls – The 45-foot falls can be reached via the 4-mile round trip Big Creek Trail near Cataloochee, N.C. Park at the Big Creek Trailhead on a gravel road off of Waterville Road.
• Grotto Falls – The 25-foot falls awaits at the end of the Trillium Gap Trail, a 3-mile round trip hike through old-growth hemlocks. Park at the trailhead off of the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.
• Indian Creek Falls – The falls, which cascades about 25 feet down a series of ledges into a wide pool. The 1.6-mile round trip is located on the Deep Creek/Indian Creek Falls Trail north of Bryson City, N.C.
• Abrams Falls – Though a short drop of only 20 feet, the ferocity of the water tumbling over the falls is impressive. The trailhead for Abrams Falls Trail is just past Stop No. 10 on the Cades Cove Loop road.
• Mingo Falls – The area’s best falls – at 120 feet the tallest in the southern Appalachians – actually sits just outside of the park on the Cherokee Indian Reservation in North Carolina. Take the Pigeon Creek Trail for 0.4-miles round trip from the Mingo Falls Campground to the falls.
Learn about other great trails at this national park in Best Sights to See at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.