Even in an area known for its abundance of beautiful waterfalls, Ramsey Cascades stands out as one of the premier attractions in the Great Smoky Mountains. Not only are the falls themselves the tallest in the park and among the most beautiful, but the hiking trail that takes you there is a worthy experience all its own. Discover more about why Ramsey Cascades may be your next can’t-miss destination in the Smokies.
Savor the views of the tallest waterfall in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
If seeing a great waterfall is on the agenda for your next Smoky Mountains vacation, it will be tough to pick a more dramatic option than Ramsey Cascades. At approximately 100 feet high, this waterfall is the tallest in the park and has earned a reputation as one of the best examples in the region of this classic Smokies geographical feature.
At the falls, crystal clear water rushes down several outcroppings of rocks until it collects in the pool at the base. This water source is known to be a habitat for salamanders which can camouflage themselves to hide from predators. All in all it’s a spectacular sight, and one of the true natural gems of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Put your skills to the test on a challenging but incredibly rewarding hike
To reach Ramsey Cascades you must first travel an approximately 4-mile hiking trail (8.1-mile round-trip) that wanders deep into the woods through some one of the largest old-growth forests in the area. You’ll walk amongst some of the oldest trees in the park on your journey, and also partly follow the Ramsey Prong of the Little Pigeon River for a complete experience in the Smokies wilderness.
The key point to note about this trail is it is rated moderate-to-strenuous, and shouldn’t be attempted by children and inexperienced hikers. It features over 2,000 feet of elevation gain, and contains a variety of obstacles such as narrow footbridges and difficult rocky terrain in spots.
Remember to practice safety first, scenery second
Because the trail to Ramsey Cascades is no simple stroll, you’ll want to make sure that you prioritize safety before you begin your journey deep into the beautiful forest. Make sure everyone in your group is physically fit enough to handle the demands of this trip. Proper hiking footwear such as boots or sturdy trail runners are an absolute necessity in order to safely navigate the terrain of this trail. You should also consider trekking poles to help stabilize you on some of the more rough terrain.
When you reach Ramsey Cascades, please heed the signage that instructs no climbing on the rocks, even if you see other people breaking the rules, as some hikers have died by attempting this. Hornets nests can also be present in the summer, so stay alert. As long as you practice proper safety, you’ll have a memorable trip to and from Ramsey Cascades.
Explore more of the wonder of the Greenbrier area of the park
Ramsey Cascades is located in the Greenbrier area, a section of the park renowned for its dense forests and stunning streaming waters. The Greenbrier entrance is located six miles east of Gatlinburg on Highway 321, and you’ll then follow Greenbrier Road just over 4.5 miles to the Ramsey Prong to reach the trailhead. This is a wonderful scenic drive in its own right: check out some of the other notable attractions in this area, including a bridge across the Little Pigeon River that is perfect for photos, and another exceptional hiking opportunity in the trail to Fern Branch Falls. This popular yet accessible area contains some of the most notable landmarks in the Great Smoky Mountains, so there is plenty to explore!