Smoky mountain waterfalls

Guide to 7 Easy Smoky Mountain Waterfalls

7 Easy Waterfall Trails in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

If you enjoy the scenic outdoors, look no further. Here are 7 Easy Trails With Great Smoky Mountain Waterfalls that can be enjoyed by the whole family.  The scenery in these woods makes second to none.

Within the 800 Miles of maintained trails, there are more than 100 waterfalls and cascades in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Easy Level Trails That Allow Dogs

There are only 2 Trails in The Great Smoky Mountain National Park that allow dogs. Both of these trails are “Easy” as far as their difficulty level.

 They would be: 1) The Gatlinburg Trail on the Tennessee side of the Park 2)The Oconaluftee Trail on the North Carolina side of the Park. The Gatlinburg Trail follows along and crosses over The Little Creek River does have some water rapids and cascading. The Oconaluftee does not have a waterfall but it does follow along the river.

What Does “Easy Level” Mean When it Comes to Hiking?

Easy” Level: Hiking on obvious trails that are easy to follow and are well maintained, a short distance with minimal elevation

What to Pack for an Easy Level Trail

Even though these trails are considered an easy short hike, for your comfort you may want to prepare a light backpack with some supplies.

Here is what I would suggest packing:

Sunscreen, Sunglasses, Water shoes, Snack or a Picnic Kit, Fresh Water or a Drink with Electrolytes, Camera, Bear Spray, and a Map.

    Here are 7 Easy Trails With Great Smoky Mountain Waterfalls

    …that the whole family will be able to enjoy.

    I always say No matter what trail you choose you’ll be able to see views of mountains and waterfalls, smell scents of foliage, wildflowers and hear sounds of wildlife.

    Great Smoky Mountain Waterfalls Trail: Laurel Falls Trail

    Trail Length: 2.6 miles

    Trail Type: _x out & back, __loop, __point to point

    Trailhead Location: Little River Road .5 mile before Elkmont Campground

    Waterfall: Laurel Falls

    Height of Waterfall: 80’ high

    Waterfall Location: 1 mile from the trailhead

    Difficulty Level: _x easy, __moderate, __difficult

    Surface: _x paved, __gravel, __dirt, __smooth, _x bumpy

    Foot Traffic: __light, __ moderate _x crowded

    This Trail Allows: __dogs, __bikes, __horses

    Accessible Year-round _x yes, __no, _x weather permitting

    Closest Restroom: Sugarland Visitor Center

    Trail Features:

    2-tiered falls. This trail has great views of the mountains and valley. There is a bridge that crosses over the falls making it a great photo opportunity. Named after the mountain laurel that blooms along the trail and the falls.

    Trail Tips:

    The surface is not recommended for strollers or people with mobility issues. There are uneven surface areas and potholes.

    Be on the alert, there are signs posted with warnings “Danger Closely Control Children” the surface and rocks can be slick when wet plus the trail has a high drop off points without any safety railing.

    It’s a good idea to arrive early the main designated parking lots do fill up fast. Plus the crowds make it very difficult to stop for a photo.

    Trailhead Directions:

    From Sugarland Visitor Center, turn right off of 441 toward Cades Cove on Little River Road and drive 3.5 miles to the trailhead where there are parking areas on both sides of the road.

    Great Smoky Mountain Waterfalls Trail: Porters Creek Trail

    Trail Length: 7.2 mile

    Trail Type: _x out & back, __loop, __point to point

    Trailhead Location: Greenbrier, Tennessee, between Sugarland Visitor Center and Cosby Camp Ground

    Waterfall: Fern Branch Falls

    Height of Waterfall: 40’ high

    Waterfall Location: 2 miles in from the trailhead

    Difficulty Level: _x easy, __moderate, __difficult

    Surface: __paved, _x gravel, _x dirt, __smooth, _x bumpy

    Foot Traffic: __light, _x moderate, __crowded

    This Trail Allows: __dogs, __bikes, partially horses

    Accessible Year-round _x yes, __no, _x weather permitting

    Closest Restroom: picnic area on the way in

    Trail Features:

    This trail is one big photo opportunity with the picturesque waterfall and creek running beside it the entire time. The waterfall got its name from the area being thickly surrounded with ferns.

    From Branch Falls the trail runs along Porters Creek, the sound of the flowing water gives off a peaceful feeling. The variety of different colored wildflowers that grow here make it one of the best views in the park. The trail is wide and filled with huge trees that work great for shading, keeping the trail cool and for growing moss on the boulders.

    Along the route, you’ll see 2 footbridges, an old cemetery and leftover remain of a farmstead owned by Elbert Cantrell, a farmer that settled here in the early 1900s. When you get to the fork-in-the-road stay to the left, the falls are 1 mile ahead from there.

    If you go right at the fork-in-the-road this will take you to a historical area where you’ll see the old John Messer Farmstead, John Whaley’s barn and the Smoky Mountain hiking club cabin. The hiking club cabin was built in the mid-1930s and used for overnights up until 1981.

    Trail Tips:

    Kid friendly. This is a local favorite due to its location and it tends to be less crowded. Since the trees keep this trail heavily shaded it tends to take longer to dry up so wear shoes that won’t matter if they get muddy.

    You’ll know that you’re at the intersection of Brushy Mountain Trail when the trail turns to dirt. The level of difficulty on this trail starts out very easy and will gradually get a bit harder as you go.

    Trailhead Directions:

    Located 6 miles from Gatlinburg. Trailhead is easy to find. From Gatlinburg follow East on route 321 / East Parkway for 6 miles. You’ll see a Great Smoky Mountain Park sign at Greenbrier Road. Important: There are sections of Greenbrier Road that will not accommodate a large vehicle. Turn right onto Greenbrier Road. Parking is close to the trailhead and is approximately 4 miles down on Greenbrier Road.

    Great Smoky Mountain Waterfalls Trail: Deep Creek Trail Loop

    Trail Length: 4.6 mile

    Trail Type: __out & back, _x loop, __point to point

    Trailhead Location: within walking distance from Deep Creek Campground, Bryson City, North Carolina

    Waterfall: Tom Creek Falls & Indian Creek Falls

    Height of Waterfall: 80’ & 45’ high

    Waterfall Location: .5 & .75 mile from trailhead

    Difficulty Level: _x easy, __moderate, __difficult

    Surface: __paved, __gravel, _x dirt, _x smooth, __bumpy

    Foot Traffic: __light, _x moderate, __crowded

    This Trail Allows: __dogs, __bikes, partially horses

    Accessible Year-round _x yes, __no, _x weather permitting

    Closest Restroom: Deep Creek campground and picnic area

    Trail Features:

    Most of the trail is wide and flat with benches. This Loop has more than 1 waterfall that is especially stunning after heavy rain.

    This is a popular spot for camping and tubing and other outdoor activities like fishing. In the springtime, it has an abundance of views with beautiful blooming wildflowers.

    Deep Creek is one of the top winter hiking areas. Most of this trail runs beside a creek, either Deep Creek or Indian Creek.

    Trail Tips:

    You can turn left off of Deep Creep Loop onto Juney Whank Falls Trail to see a 90’ waterfall.

    Trailhead Directions:

    From Bryson City head north on Deep Creek Road. Continue .5 mile past the Deep Creek Campground entrance. The parking lot will be on the left. Trailhead will start at the end of Deep Creek Road.

    Great Smoky Mountain Waterfalls Trail: Big Creek Trail

    Trail Length: 5.1 mile

    Trail Type: _x out & back, __loop, __point to point

    Trailhead Location: Close to Big Creek Campground, Catalooche, North Carolina

    Waterfall: Mouse Creek Falls & Midnight Hole

    Height of Waterfall: 45’ high & 6’ high

    Waterfall Distance: 2.0 miles & 1.4 miles from the trailhead

    Difficulty Level: _x easy, __moderate, __difficult

    Surface: __paved, __x gravel, _x dirt, __smooth, _x bumpy

    Foot Traffic: __light, _x moderate, __crowded

    This Trail Allows: __dogs, __bikes, _x horses

    Accessible Year-round _x yes, __no, _x weather permitting

    Closest Restroom: Big Creek Campground

    Trail Features:

    The trail follows an old logging road that was built by Crestmont Lumber Company, then converted into a hiking trail right around 1930.

    There are 2 falls along the way, you’ll first come to the 6’ mini waterfall Midnight Hole it’s also used as a popular swimming hole and has the added fun of a jumping rock. Midnight Hole is not marked but most of the trail does have a good view of Big Creek so to find Midnight Hole after 1.25 mile in you can start to keep an eye out for the paths that go from the trail to the creek.

    The 2nd Waterfall is another .5 mile past Midnight Hole. When you get to the hitching post on the left, take the side trail and that will lead you to the 2-tier-45’ Mouse Creek Waterfall.

    A couple of nice things about this trail is that it’s a good area to spot wildlife and you can see mini waterfalls throughout from the huge boulders and swift water.

    Trail Tips:

    Another kid-friendly trail. Make a day of it, bring your lunch, enjoy the beautiful views. You’ll find this trail has a nice flat-wide surface with a slight incline. This trail has heavy traffic in the springtime.

    If you plan to get into the water at Midnight Hole remember this is natural mountain water so expect it to be cold. A short hike past Mouse Creek Falls to see some beautiful upstream views from a small bridge that crosses over Big Creek.

    If you’re really feeling adventurous you can see the old logging camp by hiking another 3 miles to Walnut Bottom.

    Trailhead Directions:

    From I-40E, take exit 451 to head south toward Waterville Road and Big Creek Entrance Road to Big Creek Campground Loop Road, stay straight past the ranger station and into parking circle. The Trailhead is just before you enter the parking area.

    Great Smoky Mountain Waterfalls Trail: Juney Creek Falls Trail

    Trail Length: .8 mile

    Trail Type: _x out & back, __ loop, __point to point

    Trailhead Location: Close to Deep Creek Campground, W Deep Creek Road, Bryson City, North Carolina

    Waterfall: Juney Whank Waterfall

    Height of Waterfall: combined upper and lower sections total 90’ high

    Waterfall Location: .25

    Difficulty Level: _x easy, __moderate, __difficult

    Surface: __paved, _x   gravel, _x dirt, _x smooth, __bumpy

    Foot Traffic: __light, _x moderate,  __crowded

    This Trail Allows: __dogs, __bikes,  partial  horses

    Accessible Year-round _X yes, __no, _x weather permitting

    Closest Restroom: Big Creek picnic and campground, none at the trailhead

    Trail Features:

    Juney Whank is a Cherokee phrase that means “Where the bear passes”. This is a good easy walk from the parking lot. The trail is wide and mostly flat except for a few tree roots. There is a wooden bridge with a bench right at the falls making it a perfect photo op spot.

    This whole area of the park is popular for all kinds of outdoor activities besides hiking there’s fishing, tubing, horseback riding and places to picnic so stay, have some fun, plan to make the day of it.

    Trail Tips:

    This is a very short and a little hilly/steep trail. Best time to visit is between March and October. If you get into the water I recommend wearing water shoes or shoes with good tread due to slippery rocks and the extremely cold water temperature.

    Juney Whank Falls Trail is less than 1 mile long if you just want to see the falls then at that point turn around to head back the way you came. If you’d like to turn it into a loop it’s connected to Deep Creek Trail and the Deep Creek Horse Trail if you continuing on one of those trails they will loop you back around to Deep Creek Trail or Deep Creek parking lot depending on which trail you choose.

    Trailhead Directions:

    Juney Whank Trailhead is located less than .5 mile past the Deep Creek Campground.  From Bryson City, North Carolina follow the signs to Deep Creek Campground. When you get to W Deep Creek Road drive another 2 miles until you reach The Great Smokey Mountain National Park entrance. After you reach the end of W. Deep Creek Road the parking lot is right there and the trailhead is on the left only .25 mile up from the parking lot.

    Great Smoky Mountain Waterfalls Trail: Little River Trail

    Trail Length: 4.7 mile

    Trail Type: _x out & back, __loop, __point to point

    Trailhead Location: Elkmont Campground

    Waterfall: Husky Branch Falls

    Height of Waterfall: 20’ high, tiered

    Waterfall Location: 2.2 miles from the trailhead

    Difficulty Level: _x easy, __moderate, __difficult

    Surface: __paved, _x gravel, _x dirt, _x smooth, __bumpy

    Foot Traffic: __light, _x moderate, __crowded

    This Trail Allows: __dogs, __bikes, __horses

    Accessible Year-round __yes, __no, _x weather permitting

    Closest Restroom: Elkmont Campground

    Trail Features:

    This trail was once used as an old logging service road with the river running beside it. You’ll notice smaller waterfalls along the path. This is a nice easy pleasant hike through nature the falls will be just after you cross over a small footbridge although the Huskey Branch Falls aren’t huge they are relaxing.

    There will be an area that you can get into the water once you get to the waterfall. It has a wide well maintained gravel path up to the waterfall.

    To your right, you’ll pass a bridge that crosses over to old summer houses that were built for some wealthy Knoxville families back in the 1920s.

    Trail Tips:

    If you want to see the famous bridge that been dubbed “The Troll Bridge” after a few hundred feet in from the trailhead, turn right on to the gravel trail.

    If you would like to explore beyond the waterfall you can loop back around by using the more difficult rated, connecting Cucumber Gap Trail. To connect walk another .30 mile and then turn right. The whole loop is close to 5.5 miles long.

    Trailhead Directions:

    Turn into the Elkmont area and then make a left just before entering the campground. Continue for another .5 mile to the trailhead parking area located at a gated road on the left.

    Great Smoky Mountain Waterfalls Trail: Cove Mountain Trail

    Trail Length: 1-mile round trip

    Trail Type: _x out & back, __loop, __ point to point

    Trailhead Location: Behind Sugarland Visitor Center, Gatlinburg, Tennessee

    Waterfall: Cataract Falls

    Height of Waterfall: 25’ high, 2-tier

    Waterfall Location: .5 mile from Sugarland Visitor Center

    Difficulty Level: _x easy, __moderate, __difficult

    Surface: _x paved, _x gravel, _x dirt, __ smooth, _x bumpy

    Foot Traffic: _x light, _x moderate, __crowded

    This Trail Allows __ dogs, __ bikes, __horses

    Accessible Year-round _x yes, __no, _x weather permitting

    Closest Restroom: Sugarland Visitor Center

    Trail Features:

    This is overall a kid-friendly kind of adventure trail besides finding the beautiful waterfall they’ll get to cross over a creek bridge, under a road bridge, use an old set of steps and step inside of an old hollow tree. All of this bundled up into a short walk that isn’t too far from the road or visitor center. The trees along this trail will provide plenty of shade.

    Trail Tips:

    This trail is not the best for strollers. The Cove Mountain Trail located directly behind the ranger station. The Cataract Waterfall it’s just a short distance north of there.

    Trailhead Directions:

    Location is less than 2 miles from downtown Gatlinburg park in the lot at the Sugarland Visitor Center and then follow the sidewalk to the right that leads to Cove Mountain Trailhead.

    The other trail that goes to the left leads to Fighting Creek Nature Trail it’s a nice loop trail that follows the creek but you won’t find any waterfalls.

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    Great Smoky Mountain Waterfalls

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    2 thoughts on “Guide to 7 Easy Smoky Mountain Waterfalls”

      1. Thanks for the awesome feedback! I love the whole Smoky Mountain area, especially in the Spring and Fall. Check back, I’m planning on (hopefully soon) adding additional articles.

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