Three Smoky Mountain waterfalls
Seeing waterfalls and cascades in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a great adventure in this destination along the Tennessee and North Carolina border. On a recent trip hiking trip I was able to get three of them in. The first two were stops along the road, and the last one I hiked past on my way out of the mountains.
Located along the park road between the main entrance near Gatlinburg and Cades Cove, Laurel Falls is a perfect place for hikers of all abilities to enjoy a mountain waterfall. The waterfall is located 1.3 miles off the main road on a paved trail. There is a little bit of elevation gain, so it is not a super easy hike, but thanks to the pavement, there are no rocks or roots to impede your gait.
Once you arrive at the waterfall, there is a bridge right in front of the waterfall that gives a perfect view. There is also a lower falls below the bridge. You have to do some off trail walking to get to the lower falls. The lower falls is almost an exact replica of the upper falls, and not as pretty as the upper falls, but it is still worth checking out.
As I was leaving I noticed a rhododendron bush in full bloom hanging over the falls. I just had to get a picture of the flower with framed with the waterfall as the background.
A little bit farther down the road is The Sinks. The Sinks are more a powerful rapids than a falls, but it is worth a stop. This cascade is right off the road, so no hiking required. There is a stairway with an observation area for optimal viewing.
The Sinks is a popular swimming spot. Several people have drowned here, so be careful as the water is stronger than it looks.
About halfway through the 11 mile Cades Cove loop scenic drive is Abrams Falls. This trail takes the most effort to get to as the falls are 2.5 miles away one-way. This means a five mile round trip hike, so it takes 2-4 hours just in walking depending on your speed.
I flanked Abrams Falls and came around the back way from the Gregory’s Ridge Trail off the Appalachian Trail. I wanted to take a swim in the pool underneath the falls. This is another area where people have drowned, so be careful.
I visited Abrams Falls over the 4th of July weekend and there was a mob there. It is a popular day hiking trail since it is only five miles and the waterfall is spectacular.
Despite the amount of people, surprisingly no one was swimming. I soon found out why. The water was icy cold. I finally found the courage to jump in. I drove 10 hours to get here and swim in this falls, so I would not be denied; however, I did not stay in long.
This sums up the three waterfall adventure in the Smokies. There are others to experience including Rainbow, Meigs Creek, Grotto, and Ramsey Cascade, but those are four I will save for another trip.
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