Abrams Falls is a beautiful natural water feature in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, located near the popular Cades Cove area. Getting there requires a moderately difficult hike, but the path covers some tranquil wilderness in the park that gives you a true sense of the Smokies. And the reward is one of the most photogenic waterfalls in the park.
Take full advantage of your visit to Cades Cove
There are plenty of reasons why Cades Cove is the most popular destination in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, including the ease of getting there and the variety of attractions and scenic spots that populate the area. One of those is Abrams Falls, a 20-foot high waterfall that many people describe as one of the most beautiful in the Smokies, and the trailhead that leads to it is right off the main Cades Cove Loop Road, just past stop #10.
The falls themselves and the hike to get there are relatively well-trafficked, which makes sense as they are close to the area that sees more visitors than any other in the park. That said, the hike and the falls can still make for a great excursion as long as you are prepared, and combined with trips to see some of the other sights of Cades Cove it can give you a full day in the park at some of the most noteworthy scenic spots. We recommend you allow for approximately 4 hours of time to complete the hike and to linger to enjoy the falls.
Embark on a moderate hike that still provides some challenges
The trail to and from Abrams Falls is approximately 5 miles round trip, and you reach the falls at the 2.5-mile mark before turning around and heading back to the trailhead. Although the total distance is not very long, the hike is classified as of moderate difficulty. Most hikers should be able to handle the trail, but there are some important safety concerns that need to be noted.
It’s recommended that you wear appropriate hiking footwear for this trail, because there are some rocky areas and exposed roots throughout the path that must be navigated. There are also some ascents and crossings you need to manage, but overall as long as you follow guidelines and use common sense you should have a great time on this hike.
Get some great photos at and all around the falls
As you would expect, when you reach Abrams Falls you will have ample opportunities to take some great photos and videos of the roaring waters cascading down the cliff. It is possibly one of the most picturesque spots in a national park known for its scenery, and it’s also a great place to stop for a picnic and enjoy the water around you.
When you’re at the falls, be careful around the rocks – things get slippery and many people have had accidents here. Also, moving water carries more force than it seems, and although this waterfall is not especially tall, it carries the highest volume of water of any waterfall in the park.
Note that the pool is NOT a swimming hole, even if it looks like one. Because of the undertow and water volume, swimming would be extremely dangerous. People who didn’t heed the warnings have drowned here. Please be warned. This is a great place to enjoy by looking rather than clambering around. And it always pays to heed the park’s standing advice about being careful around all water.
Don’t neglect the many opportunities to take photos on the trail itself. You follow the creek for the majority of the trail and can get some fantastic shots of the water rushing alongside you, and you’ll find plenty of geological formations, beautiful plant life, and possibly even some animals along the way as well.
Enjoy the beauty of the falls without traveling far from your cabin
Abrams Falls is a great opportunity to see one of the most scenic spots in the Smokies, and because of its location near Cades Cove it’s simple to get to from your Smoky Mountains cabin. If you’re open to a slightly more rigorous hike compared to some and you can follow the proper safety guidelines, you’ll find Abrams Falls a rewarding hike that you can easily fit into your schedule.
You can find more waterfalls along some of the popular trails in the park. See our guide to more Waterfalls in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. And see more outdoor ideas in our Smoky Mountains Activities guide.
For more information see the Things to Do in the Smoky Mountains guide and also Things to Do in Gatlinburg With Kids. We have cabins throughout the area, so you can make your home-away-from-home base station during your stay from among our Wears Valley cabins, our Pigeon Forge rental cabins or our Gatlinburg cabins If the family pet is coming too, see our lists of pet friendly cabins in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.