rainbow falls great smoky mountains

The best moments of summer are shared around the waterhole. Specifically, the cascading natural waterfalls all around the Great Smoky Mountains. Here are some of our favorite pristine Smoky Mountain waterfalls you have to see to believe!

Grotto Falls

The perfect moderate hike for a hot summer day will lead you to Grotto Falls. This waterfall is actually the only one you can walk behind, which makes for some killer selfies for your memory books and Instagram. Grotto Falls is an incredible and accessible piece of natural beauty and is one of Gatlinburg’s most popular waterfalls. Located on the Trillium Gap Trail, this hike is an estimated 2–3 hours round trip. The Trillium Gap Trail is open Friday–Sunday (excluding federal holidays) through November 15, 2019, so plan ahead to make sure you can see this marvel! 

Grotto falls - waterfalls in Gatlinburg
Grotto Falls, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Mingo Falls

Located just outside Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Mingo Falls is a massive, 120-foot waterfall located on the Cherokee Indian Reservation. While Mingo Falls is a short hike, it will still leave you breathless. During the summer, visitors can take in the majestic falls while being surrounded by beautiful rhododendron and mountain laurel.  Even though this trail is a bit outside of the Gatlinburg area, it is absolutely worth the trip. Make sure to add it to your list of “must-sees” during your trip to the Smoky Mountains.

Mingo Falls, Cherokee, NC
Mingo Falls, Cherokee, NC

Rainbow Falls

Another beautiful Smoky Mountain waterfall that is definitely worth the challenging hike is Rainbow Falls. We recommend packing a lunch and staying a while at the falls to really let the experience sink in. You’ll need to rest for the trek back. Don’t worry, your efforts will be rewarded. This Gatlinburg hike is perfect for those who want to stop and smell the wildflowers and catch glimpses of local wildlife. This spot is most exciting after a solid rainfall, so plan ahead to make sure you get the best experience!  From the parkway in Gatlinburg, turn at traffic light #8 and follow Historic Nature Trail into Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Continue past the Noah “Bud” Ogle homesite to the clearly signed Rainbow Falls parking area.

waterfalls in the smoky mountains
Rainbow Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennesse, in early summer.

Ramsey Cascades

We saved the best and most difficult hike for last. Another steep hike that is certain to reward you is the trek to Ramsey Cascades. This is a challenging hike, so plan to be on the trail for about six hours there and back. It would be the perfect family hike for those who are a little more experienced and want to spend some serious time in nature. The scenery that rewards you in the final miles is extraordinary. 

waterfall great smoky mountains
Ramsey Cascades, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

We hope you take these incredible spots into consideration on your trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Don’t forget to send us your beautiful photos or tag us on Instagram @mobilebrochure. 

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About Nicole Miller

Nicole Miller is a native Tennessean who currently resides in Asheville, North Carolina. She loves spending time in the great outdoors, such as camping, hiking, and mountain biking. She also enjoys exploring all that the Smoky Mountains have to offer.

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