Great Smoky Mountains National Park boasts dozens of waterfalls. What if you only have time to visit a few? Pick from among these five most beautiful waterfalls.
The No. 1 beauty is the tallest on this list and the toughest to reach, but hikers who make the climb get a beautiful reward! The 100-foot-high falls splash over rock outcroppings, and water rests in a pool where salamanders gather. The National Park Service itself calls Ramsey Cascades “spectacular.”
Take the Ramsey Cascades Trail. The eight-mile round trip is rated strenuous, and hikers report the terrain is rough.
Laurel Falls is a magnet for visitors, and for good reason. Divided into upper and lower falls, the waterfall is one cascade that falls onto stones widening the flow and breaking it into many cascades. A walkway crosses the stream.
Laurel Falls Trail is a 2.6-mile, moderately tricky round trip. Though the trail starts paved, it shifts to an unpaved path and is steep in places.
Visit here after a soaking rain to see the 80-foot cascade at its best. The waterfall’s name comes from the rainbows visitors see in the mist. If you miss summer rainbows, come see winter’s breathtaking ice formations.
Take the Rainbow Falls Trail. The hike is 5.4 miles round trip and rated moderate, with some rocky terrain.
Gorgeous Grotto Falls prove that a waterfall must be exceptionally tall to be beautiful. This 25-foot-high waterfall hides a secret: It’s the only waterfall in the national park where you can walk behind the cascade to experience the roaring water up close!
Trillium Gap Trail is a 2.6-mile, moderate round trip to Grotto Falls.
Cataract Falls is easy to reach. The trail to the falls begins in the parking lot of Sugarlands Visitor Center and is a one-mile round trip.