There is nothing more peaceful and relaxing than a stroll through the mountains under rich green foliage to a serine and picturesque waterfall and The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to many beautiful waterfalls. Here at the Blue Mountain Mist we have fallen in love with some of the waterfalls in the park so much that we have named three rooms after our three favorites: Laurel Falls, Ramsey Cascades, and Rainbow Falls. Here is some useful information about them that will help if you are looking to get out there and experience them for yourself.
Laurel Falls is an eighty-foot tall cascade surrounded by beautiful mountain laurel. It is one of the most easily accessed waterfalls in the park being only a short 2.3-mile round-trip walk on a paved path. The hike’s difficulty level is considered easy and it takes only 2 hours to hike to the waterfall and back. Laurel Falls’ beauty and ease of access make it the most visited waterfall in the park and so it is very crowded in season (June-Oct.) and on weekends. Do not cross it off your list yet, however. If you go early in the morning on a weekday you can avoid the crowds, and this is one waterfall you do not want to miss. The trailhead is on Little River Rd. just 3.5 miles from the Sugarlands Visitor Center. Parking is limited, however, so be sure to get there early to secure a spot. The best time to see the waterfall is in May before the beginning of the season when the beautiful mountain laurel that surrounds the trial and falls is in bloom.
Rainbow Falls is the highest single-drop waterfall in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and gets its name from the spectacular rainbow it creates on sunny afternoons. It is slightly more difficult to get to than Laurel Falls but is still only a 5.4-mile round-trip hike considered moderate difficulty. The trail is steep, gaining 1,500 feet in elevation before reaching the falls. However, its beauty is matched by no other waterfall in the National Park and only takes 3-5 hours to hike. The Rainbow Falls trail is also an alternate route to Mount LeConte if you are up for a more adventurous hike. The trailhead is located on Cherokee Orchard Road which leaves from Gatlinburg and there is axillary parking about a tenth of a mile past the original parking lot. Also, the trailhead for Grotto Falls, another popular waterfall, is only a couple miles up the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail and is only 2.6-miles round-trip. It would be possible to see both waterfalls in a single day.
Ramsey Cascades is the tallest waterfall in the park and definitely one of the most breathtaking. The falls is located in the Greenbrier area of the park, a quiet, cool narrow valley that creates a magical aura. It is located just a few miles from Gatlinburg up the Greenbrier Road but because Greenbrier is a less visited area of the park it is a great place to escape the crowds of Gatlinburg. The trailhead is found at the end of the Ramsey Prong Road a left turn off the Greenbrier Road. The trail is a strenuous 4 miles out, gaining 2,200 feet in elevation making it 8 miles round-trip and passes over some very rugged terrain. The last two miles of the trail passes through some of the oldest forests in the park. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park was founded in order to save the forests from the logging industry. This area is one of the few places in the park where the hardwoods were untouched. The trail’s difficulty and location make it relatively uncrowded even on busy days making it one of the best waterfalls to hike to in the busy season.
Here at the Blue Mountain Mist our family loves everything to do with Greenbrier because our deep family ties to the area and the beautiful West Prong Pigeon River. We hope this information helps you to enjoy the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and its stunning waterfalls as much as we do.