Great Smoky Mountain National Park's Abrams Fall Trail
With over 150 different trails that stretch 800 miles, The Great Smoky Mountain National Park (GSMNP) is an absolute hiker's utopia. It's one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in all national parks, with over 1,600 species of plants, 100 species of trees, 65 different mammals and over 200 birds. The park is one of nature's incredible paradises. With such diversity, you can imagine that there are some fantastic hikes within the park. Whether you take a short hour stroll or you spend several days hiking on the wildly popular Appalachian Trail, GSMNP won't disappoint. While there is an over-abundance of spectacular hikes in the park for you to choose from, Abrams Fall Trail is one of our favorites.
Getting to the trailhead's parking lot, located off of Cades Cove Loop Road, can sometimes be challenging. Scores and scores of tourists flock to this road to drive the 11-mile loop in hopes of seeing the abundant wildlife. As you navigate the 4.5 miles from the beginning of Cades Cove Loop Road to the trailhead parking lot, you might find yourself becoming frustrated over the congested traffic that makes frequent stops on this narrow one-way road. However, be warned that you are committed to driving the entire 11-mile loop once you start the loop as there are no turn-around points along the way. We highly recommend arriving early to beat the rush on the drive and, more importantly, the crowds on the trail.
Named after a Cherokee Indian chief who lived just a short distance away, Abrams Falls is one of the most famous falls and hikes in the park. The fast rushing Abrams Creek dumps hundreds of thousands of gallons of water over the 20’ drop to the pool below, providing spectacular views to the fall's visitors. In fact, it sends more water flowing over the fall than any other waterfall in the park.
The trail is a moderate 5-mile out-and back-hike that follows along Abrams Creek, taking you up and over three ridges before finally descending to Abrams Falls. According to the National Park Service, Pine and oak trees line the trail's ridges, and hemlock and rhododendron follow the path along Abrams Creek. Wearing good hiking shoes is a must as you climb up and over the 340 feet in elevation of the trail. Watch your step along the way as you will have to navigate over three small tributary creeks on narrow log bridges. The hike usually takes 3-4 hours, depending on how much time you spend at the falls.
Abrams Falls Trail is an excellent hike that most visitors in relatively decent physical health should handle well. While there are many great hikes in the park with varying difficulty, Abrams Fall is a staple hike of GSMNP. We recommended that any hiker add this one to your list if visiting the area.