We know how you all love waterfalls! They absolutely mesmerize me, so believe me, I share that love! I have made it my goal to visit all the waterfalls in the Smokies and enjoy the inspirational atmosphere (and take tons of pictures). Abrams Falls is the first one on my wish list. It is only a 5 mile trail, round trip, and considered to be of moderate difficulty.
Finding the Trailhead
From Gatlinburg, take 441 into the Park, go just past the Sugarlands Visitors Center and follow the signs to the right onto Little River Road and toward Cades Cove. Follow Little River Road through a couple of turns for about 19 miles to a left onto Laurel Creek Road. Follow Laurel Creek Rd for about 7.6 miles until it takes you straight onto Cades Cove Loop Rd. This is a one-way loop. Continue 4.9 miles on Loop Rd to the turn off onto the gravel road that ends at the trail head about 0.5 mile later. During the summer and the month of October, Cades Cove is so popular that it is usually one big traffic jam! So if you come during these times, plan to arrive at the trailhead as close to sunrise as possible to avoid the traffic, and be prepared to see several other people on the trail, no matter when you come!
The Abrams Falls Trail is a 5 mile round trip trail that follows Abrams Creek most of the way and crosses back and forth over it a couple of times. Some websites recommend this as a great trail for beginners and families. Based on several reviews I’ve read, I would caution that some families with small children may find the trail challenging, though not impossible, but totally worth it. You do climb about 1800 ft at one point, but the falls are actually about 2-300 ft lower in elevation than the trailhead. After the falls, you can continue another 1.7 miles to the end of the Abrams Falls Trail, where it intersects with the Hatcher Mountain, Hannah Mountain, and Little Bottoms trails.
Abrams Creek and Falls are named for a Cherokee Chief named Abram (which, according to some sources was short for Abraham), whose village was once located several miles down stream, on land that is now under Lake Chilhowee. Abrams Creek is a smaller creek at its upper portion, but is fed by 18 small streams, which drain into it shortly before the falls. The creek then diverts suddenly into a narrow chute that sends all those waters rushing over the falls. The falls, though not the tallest, at only 20 ft, are awe-inspiring as they pour over into the 100 ft pool at the bottom. The pool is popular for swimming and wading, but we urge you to be extremely cautious and especially watchful over your children. The rocks are slippery, and people have died at this pool. Even adults should always have another adult right by their side. Don’t try to climb the rocks on the side of the falls, and don’t try crossing the creek at places that have strong and/or deep currents.
- Again, arrive as early in the morning as possible to avoid traffic and crowds.
- Be prepared to spend at least 3 hours on the trail.
- Dress for wading and/or swimming.
- Wear shoes with good support and solid soles as the ground is rocky in some places.
- Bring a fanny pack or small backpack with plenty of water and snacks, as well as a light rain coat or poncho just in case.
- Take your camera, and take lots of pictures. Take some just of nature, but take plenty with yourself and your friends and/or family. You’ll thank me for it!
- Don’t be in a hurry. The waterfall at the end isn’t the only thing worth seeing. Enjoy the creek along the way. Stop to examine trees, flowers, wildlife. Look for bear tracks. Enjoy the journey and take your time. You’ll have a better experience overall, and the trail won’t seem difficult if you’re taking your time.
Although they look crystal clear, clean, and beautiful, do not drink water straight from the creeks in the Smokies, without boiling it first, as it does contain bacteria that are hazardous to your health.
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