Over 11 million people visit the Great Smoky Mountains each year to enjoy the area’s incredible natural beauty. In addition to stunning mountain views, the national park is also home to a number of spectacular waterfalls. To help you make the most of your next vacation, Chalet Village has put together a guide to the four best waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains.
1. Abrams Falls
Abrams Falls may be only 20 feet high, but what it lacks in height, it makes up for in strength. This waterfall boasts a large volume of water that makes it very impressive to see. The trailhead for the hike leading to Abrams Falls is located off of the Cades Cove Loop Road past stop #10.
The waterfall takes its name from a Cherokee chief who presided over a village that once stood several miles from Abrams Falls. The 5-mile roundtrip hike to Abrams Falls is considered moderate in difficulty. Swimming in the pool at the base of the falls is prohibited, as it is extremely dangerous.
2. Grotto Falls
Grotto Falls is the only waterfall in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that you can walk behind! This unique waterfall is accessible via a moderately difficult 2.6-mile roundtrip hike along the Trillium Gap Trail. The trailhead for the hike is located at stop #5 along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.
If you hike to Grotto Falls on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday morning, you might encounter some atypical Smoky Mountain critters: llamas! These animals are used to bring supplies to the top of Mount LeConte, and their weekly route takes them right through the Trillium Gap Trail.
3. Laurel Falls
Laurel Falls is another one of the best waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains. At 80 feet high, Laurel Falls is absolutely stunning to behold. The waterfall is located along a paved trail that is 2.6 miles roundtrip and takes about 2 hours to complete. The trailhead for this hike is 3.8 miles past Sugarlands Visitor Center at the top of Fighting Creek Gap.
Although the trail is paved, the pavement is uneven and there are some steep sections that can be slippery if it has rained recently, so be sure to watch your step and keep a close eye on any children in your group.
4. Rainbow Falls
Rainbow Falls takes its name from the rainbow mist this 80-foot waterfall produces on sunny afternoons. The moderately difficult 5.4-mile roundtrip hike to Rainbow Falls begins at a trailhead located off of the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. The Rainbow Falls Trail gains about 1,500 feet in elevation over the course of the hike, and it takes around 3 – 5 hours to get to the waterfall and back. Climbing the rocks near the waterfall is prohibited.
When you stay at Chalet Village, you will be near all of the best waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains. Our cabin community is just 10 – 15 minutes from downtown Gatlinburg and borders the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on three sides. With everything from 1 bedroom cabins to 8 bedroom cabins, we are sure to have the perfect accommodations for your next vacation. To start planning your getaway, browse our selection of cabin rentals in the Smoky Mountains!