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Abrams Falls Trail

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN

Abrams Falls, located in the Cades Cove section of Tennesseeís Great Smoky Mountains National Park, has delighted hikers for hundreds of years - itís one of the most popular hikes in the park, the 20 foot tall cascade often sees over a thousand visitors a day, so donít expect to have the falls to yourself but do expect to be impressed by its beauty.

The trailhead, located just past stop #10 along the one-way Cades Cove Loop Road, has pit toilets and ample parking but the lot fills up as the day progresses - from the parking area, head towards the kiosk and cross a footbridge, after crossing Abrams Creek, turn left and begin hiking the 2.5 miles towards the falls..

The rocky trail initially meanders along the rhododendron and hemlock lined banks of Abrams Creek, crosses Arbutus Branch at 0.6 mile via a log footbridge and then climbs the first of two ridges (you will scale two uphills each way, out and back) - after a mile of hiking you reach the top of the first ridge and the trailís highpoint, the rocky outcrop of Arbutus Ridge at 1,795 feet.

From high above the rushing waters of the creek, you can periodically catch a glimpse of the river rapids far below - red pine and oak dominate the forest at these lofty heights, but breaks in the tree cover allow for a birds-eye view.

As you climb Arbutus Ridge, you will see Abrams Creek far below to your left rear, then the trail makes a sharp right turn via a switchback and the creek reappears, this time ahead of you to the left - topography shows that the creek made a wide, nearly mile-long, horseshoe loop in what took you only a few steps.

Dropping back down to Abrams Creek (1,634ft), you will enjoy the cool shade of the rhododendron thickets and the classic Smoky Mountain log footbridges that span the small tributaries - at mile 1.4 you cross a small stream and then Stony Branch 0.4 miles later.

Another brief climb and you top out at 1,695 feet/mile 2.3 - drop back down to the creek one final time, cross Wilson Branch on one of the most picturesque log bridges of the hike, round the corner and feel the spray of Abrams Falls.

Abrams Creek pours over a 23 foot high sandstone cliff into a deep, wide plunge pool - the cool, rippling water inviting the weary hiker to take a dip. If you decide to swim, be careful of the powerful undertow and slippery rocks.

This gorgeous Smoky Mountain setting, with its forested slopes, rushing waters, misty spray of the falls, and the soothing sound of the cascade make for the perfect picnic/rest stop - grab a snack and a seat on a creekside boulder and enjoy the view before retracing your steps back to the parking area.

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