10 Stunning Family Friendly Waterfalls In The Smoky Mountains You Must Visit

Are you looking for waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains? You’ve come to the right place! 

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the country and is known as the Salamander Capital of The World. The Smokies are full of life and they house more than 1,500 black bears! The Smokies run through both Tennessee and North Carolina and are some of the oldest mountains in the United States. 

One of the best things to do in the eastern part of the U.S. is to visit the Smoky Mountains. They are full of overlooks, hiking trails, pretty drives, gorgeous campsites, wildlife spotting, and waterfalls. If you plan to spend some time in the mountains hiking, you will want to add some of these gorgeous waterfalls to your Smoky Mountain bucket list! 

Waterfalls in the Smokies come in all shapes and sizes. You can find waterfalls that are kid-friendly, waterfalls with long hikes and short hikes, waterfalls with swimming holes, and so on. Whatever you are looking for in a Smoky Mountain waterfall, you’re sure to find it! So, tell us. Which will you visit first?

large waterfall surrounded by large rock outcroppings and forest foliage

Laurel Falls

Laurel Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains and is located near Gatlinburg, Tennessee. It stands at 80 feet high and is surrounded by beautiful evergreen shrubs and other mountain foliage. 

To access the falls, you need to take the Laurel Falls Trail. Since the waterfall is so popular, you should be prepared for crowds if you are visiting during the summer and fall. As always, to beat the crowds, consider visiting in the early morning or on a weekday. 

The roundtrip hike is 2.6 miles and is ranked as moderate difficulty. You should plan to spend roughly two hours hiking and enjoying the waterfall. More, if you are not usually physically active. Since the trail involves slick and steep portions, this trail is not stroller-friendly. You will want to have your kids walk or carry them in a carrier. 

There are more than 800 miles of trails in the park, but less than three of those miles are paved. The Laurel Falls trail is a part of the paved portion of trail. In fact, it is the longest of the paved trails in the park. Because of this, Laurel Falls is one of the best waterfall hikes in the Smoky Mountains! Even though the trail is paved, it is still considered to not be stroller-friendly as it is frequently uneven and rough. 

There are tons of things to do in Gatlinburg, so once you have enjoyed your hike and spending time at Laurel Falls, be sure to check out all of the fun happening down in Gatlinburg!

wooden bridge in front of large waterfall. Laurel Falls, one of the best waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains

Grotto Falls

Grotto Falls is one of the very best waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains! As the name suggests, this Tennessee waterfall drops down into a little pool of water in a grotto. The waterfall is back in a little semi-circle cove surrounded by rock cliffs and foliage. This unique locale makes this waterfall something that you must see for yourself.

The Trillium Gap Trail takes you through a hemlock forest and eventually behind the 15 foot Grotto Falls. The trail is three miles round trip and is ranked as moderate in difficulty. The road you need to take to reach Grotto Falls is called Roaring Fork Motor Natural Trail. This is a winding, narrow, one-lane road. Because of this, large trucks, buses, RV’s, and trailers are not prohibited. 

You should plan for spending between two and three hours hiking this trail and spending time at the waterfall. This trail gets quite rocky at some points so it’s important that your dress appropriately with sturdy hiking-appropriate shoes. Keep in mind that this is not one of the pet-friendly hiking trails in the Smokies. 

small waterfall falling down into pool of water below. One of the best watefalls in the smoky mountains, grotto falls

Spruce Flats Falls

One of the best tips for sticking to your Tennessee travel budget is to spend time in the great outdoors. There is no better way to do this than by visiting some of the best waterfalls in the Smokies! And one of the very best is Spruce Flats Falls. 

The Spruce Falls trail is ranked as easy as it is only a 1.4-mile round trip hike that gains just 460 feet in elevation. The trailhead for this waterfall is located down a gravel road just a few yards away from the GSMIT dormitory building. 

Once you begin down the trail, you will quickly reach a junction. Here, you should take the Buckeye Trail on the right. After about two-tenths of a mile, you will reach another junction where you will need to keep left. Despite this waterfall not making its way onto the official Smoky Mountain National Park map, it still receives quite a few visitors and it is easy to see why. 

The waterfall is stunning as it dropped down the rocks into four separate cascades that drop roughly 30 feet. There is a pretty little pool at the bottom of the waterfall where there are large rocks sticking up out of the water. This is a great place to sit with your feet in the water, soak up some Vitamin D, or maybe even have a picnic before you begin your hike back to your vehicle. 

three tiered waterfall in the forest

Hen Wallow Falls

Are you looking for longer waterfall hikes in the Smokies? Hen Wallow Falls may be one of the best waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains for you! This waterfall can be accessed via Gabes Mountain Trail. You can park at Cosby Picnic Area which is by the entrance to the Cosby Campground. The trail is signed and ranked moderate in difficulty.

You can expect to spend around three or four hours hiking the 4.4 mile Gabes Mountain Trail. You can expect roots and rocks crossing the trail and to have to cross Rock Creek. After hiking for about one mile you will reach Messer Gap. If you take the little side trail, you can see an old gravesite. 

Continuing straight, you will see the remnants of an old homestead and rock wall on your left. Then, at the 2.1-mile mark, you will reach a short side trail that leads down to the base of Hen Wallow Falls. This waterfall drops down approximately 90 feet. The best time to enjoy this waterfall is after it has been raining. During dry periods, this waterfall is not particularly impressive.

Hen Wallow Falls is only about 35 minutes from Pigeon Forge by car. There are so many cool things to do in Pigeon Forge, so be sure to check them out while you are in the area!

small waterfall surrounded by abundance of forest trees and other foliage

Mouse Creek Falls

The Big Creek Trail will take you to one of the coolest little waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains! Mouse Creek Falls can be found along the Big Creek Trail which follows along an old railroad grade that used to be used for hauling lumber out of the mountains. 

The hike to the waterfall is a four-mile roundtrip trail. It is ranked moderate in difficulty so plan to spend two or three hours hiking and enjoying the waterfall.

Once you have meandered down the trail 1.4 miles you will pass Midnight Hole which is a short little six-foot waterfall that drops down into a beautiful emerald green pool below. This is one of the most popular swimming holes in the Smoky Mountains. So, if you are visiting in the summer, be sure to bring your bathing suit!

{Some other great swimming holes in the Smokies include the Cherokee Rapids, Metcalf Bottoms, Little River, and Greenbrier.}

Once you reach Mouse Creek Falls, you will be greeted by beautiful cascades with lovely mossy rocks at the bottom of the waterfall. Be sure to pack snacks or a little picnic lunch to enjoy while you soak in the views of the falls and surrounding area.

tall waterfall down rock cliff in the woods

Baskins Creek Falls

In order to reach this waterfall, you will need to take the Baskins Creek Falls Trail. This trail is three miles roundtrip, gains 953 feet in elevation, and is ranked as moderate in difficulty. At certain points along the trail, you’re greeted with expansive views of the Smokies. After walking for nearly one mile you will cross Falls Branch via a wooden footbridge. 

At 1.1 miles you will see a small side trail that takes you to the Baskins Cemetery. (Keep to the right to continue to the falls.) At 1.3 miles you will arrive at a junction where you need to veer to the right to stay on the right track to Baskins Creek Falls. The last bit of the trail before you reach the falls is pretty rugged and steep, but keep going, you will soon be rewarded with waterfall views!

This trail can get foggy and moody at certain times of the year and these conditions actually make for a really awesome time hiking the trail to the falls. Once you reach the falls, you will notice that there is an elevated portion of rock about halfway up the cliff that the waterfall falls down where you can stand and get an up-close look at the waterfall. This is also a great place for a photo near the falls!

Baskins Creek Falls is nearby Grotto Falls and Cataracts Falls, as well as the town of Gatlinburg. If you are staying in one of the awesome Gatlinburg hotels, a visit to Baskins Creek Falls is less than twenty minutes away. 

small waterfall cascading down rock cliff

Ramsey Cascades

When looking for Great Smoky Mountains waterfalls, you will probably find yourself wondering which ones are the tallest. Ramsey Cascades is one of the tallest falls in the mountains. The water at this waterfall drops around 100 feet to rock outcroppings below and coolest into a pool where super cool camouflages salamanders lounge around. 

The hike to this waterfall is not easy. The trail gains more than 2,000 feet in elevation and is eight miles roundtrip. The trail is ranked as strenuous and can take you up to seven hours to complete, so be sure to plan accordingly.

{People have died trying to hike to the top of the falls, do not try to reach the top!}

The beginning of the Ramsey Cascades Trail follows along what used to be an old gravel road. You will hike onwards for about 1.5 miles before you reach an old curl de sac that indicated the junction with the Greenbrier Pinnacle Trail. This trail is no longer in use, so keep moving eastward. 

As you continue on your way, you will be hiking through the largest old-growth forest in the Great Smoky Mountains. Some of the largest trees in the national park can be found along this portion of the trail. You will continue along a prong of the Little Pigeon River where you can see small cascades interrupted by small pools of clear water along your hike. 

The last bit of the trail before you reach the falls is very rugged. You will need to climb over steep rocks and navigate around boulders and roots in the path. Then, you are finally greeted by the tallest waterfall in the Smokies, Ramsey Cascades!

small waterfall tumbling down rock cliff

Mingo Falls

Mingo Falls is one of the must see waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains!  If you have been looking for easy access waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains, Mingo Falls is the answer, as you only have to hike a short 0.4 miles to reach the falls. This waterfall is one of the tallest in the southern Appalachian Mountains, standing at 120 feet tall. 

This waterfall is located on the North Carolina side of the Smokies in Cherokee, NC. You can find the falls roughly five miles from the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and the entrance to the national park. Although the trail to Mingo Falls is short, it is ranked moderate in difficulty due to the fact that you must climb 161 steps to reach the falls. 

Mingo Falls gets its name from the Cherokee language. Mingo means big bear in Cherokee. So you may also hear the falls referred to as Big Bear Falls. This is a seriously stunning waterfall that is worth your time and effort to experience for yourself. 

Mingo Falls is roughly an hour and ten minutes from the town of Pigeon Forge where you can find loads of cool attractions like the Titanic Museum, The Island, The Old Mill Restaurant, and more. There are tons of cool things to do in Pigeon Forge and the town is worth a visit while you are spending time in the Smoky Mountains. 

large and impressive waterfall surrounded by trees in the wood. mingo falls, one of the best waterfalls in the smoky mountains

Indian Flats Falls

Another one of the waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains that require a long hike is Indian Flat Falls. The trail is 7.8 miles and is located near Townsend, Tennessee. The trail is ranked moderate and is heavily trafficked. You will gain approximately 1,100 feet of elevation on your hike to this Tennessee Waterfall.

You will be following along the Middle Prong Trail that follows along Lynn Camp Prong Creek which will give you amazing forest and stream views for you to enjoy along your long hike. You will see two small waterfalls about a half of a mile into the trail. At the first waterfall, there is a bench where you can sit and rest. 

You will eventually reach a bridge. After crossing the bridge, you will veer away from the creek and go through a series of switchbacks. Once you get to this point, start listening for the falls because there will be an unmarked spur off the trail that leads off to Indian Flats Falls. If you don’t take this spur you will end up on the Lynn Camp Prong Trail.

The waterfall is sixty feet across four different cascades. This waterfall is growing in popularity so you can expect there to be others on the trail with you during your hike if you are visiting during the peak visiting months. 

Indian Flats Falls is located in Sevier County and is only a fifty-minute drive from Sevierville, Tennessee. You can find loads of cool restaurants, fun hotels, and exciting things to do in Sevierville! If you are looking for a place to stay in the Smokies as your base of operations while you go waterfall hunting, consider Sevierville! 

short waterfall with three falls tumbling down a small rock cliff

Abrams Falls

When looking for Smoky Mountain National Park waterfalls, it doesn’t get much better than Abrams Falls. In order to reach this waterfall, you will need to take the Abrams Falls Trail. If you have been looking for waterfalls near Cades Cove, this is it!

Although the waterfall is only twenty feet high, tons of water rushes over the falls, making it a really picturesque waterfall in the Smokies. This waterfall got its name from a Cherokee chief whose village was once standing downstream from the falls.

The hike to the falls is five miles roundtrip and is rated moderate in difficulty. You can expect to gain around 675 feet in elevation while on the trail. To reach the trailhead, take Cades Cove Loop Road and you will see a sign for where to turn off past stop number ten. You should plan to spend three or four hours for enjoying the falls and the hike out and back. It’s important to not start your hike late in the afternoon because you don’t want to be stuck hiking out in the dark. 

Interestingly, in 2008 the Abrams Falls hike was on Backpacker Magazine’s list of top 10 most dangerous hikes in America. Hikes made the list based on drownings, extreme weather, and other factors Abrams Falls made the list at #9 due to exposure to drowning and hypothermia hazards. Twentynine people have died on the trail since 1971 from water-related incidents. So, remember, while you are enjoying the falls, stay out of the water.

large waterfall surrounded by trees and rock outcroppings

After reading about some of the best waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains, which of them do you think you will visit first? You have a lot of great options and no matter which ones you choose you are sure to have a great time experiencing the beautiful Smoky Mountain wilderness for yourself!

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