Trail: Abrams Falls
Type: Out & Back
Surface: Packed Dirt, Rock & Gravel, Tree Roots
Distance: 5 miles (RT)
Foot Traffic: Crowded
Restrooms: Cades Cove Visitor Center, Trailhead Parking Area, (backcountry regulations)
Highlights: Waterfall, Fall Colors, Creek, Foliage
Abrams Falls Trail Trailhead
The trailhead is inside the historic Cades Cove area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Follow the one-way Cades Cove Loop Road for 4.8 miles and turn right after stop #10 (Elijah Oliver Trail) onto a gravel road.
This country lane is well marked with signage. Drive a short distance to the parking area. Restrooms are available at the trailhead parking area.
Abrams Falls Trail Description
Abrams Falls Trail is one of the most popular trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The trail is 2.5 miles one way, and is well traveled by more than a thousand people every day on average.
Expect crowds throughout the year, although winter hikes will be less crowded.
Many hikers say the appeal of Abrams Falls Trail is the 20’ waterfall and plunge pool (more on this later). Others say it is the trail itself.
Along the trail, hikers are surrounded by the beautiful pine-oak forest and the Abrams Creek with rhododendron and hemlock growing nearby.
The flora of Abrams Falls Trail makes it one of the most beautiful hikes anywhere. More than a few hiking bloggers have indicated that it is their favorite.
Abrams Falls | Great Smoky Mountains National Park
When we hiked Abrams Falls Trail it was a great day, with one exception; even though I was wearing a pair of boots, by the end of the hike my feet were killing me. The path is well worn, but the exposed roots and frequent rocks were hard on my feet.
I could not believe the number of people we saw wearing flip flops and sandals. The National Park Service website advises against this practice, as do we, but people do it anyway. Crazy!
IMPORTANT: Depending on your fitness level, this hike can take as long as five hours. It took us an hour and a half longer than our younger friends who completed it in three hours or so. Bring a water bottle and a snack with you. By the time you get to the falls you may want an energy boost.
IMPORTANT: Seeing a bear doesn’t happen every day, but occasionally it does. More than 1,600 black bears live in the Smoky Mountains. If you see a black bear, calmly back away. It is illegal to approach a bear or get within 50 yards.
If a bear aggressively approaches you, make as much noise as possible and try to make yourself seem as large as possible. Bear repellent spray is also available for sale at many outdoor retailers.
RELATED: What to Do If You Encounter a Black Bear
Abrams Falls Waterfall & Pool
Abrams Falls is no Niagara, but the amount of water at this waterfall is the most in the Smokies. It is particularly beautiful after a hard rain. The 20’ tall waterfall runs over a rock formation and descends into the plunge pool. This makes for a great photo op, but the photo needs to be taken from the trail, not in the water.
IMPORTANT: The plunge pool at the base of Abrams Falls is dangerous. Please DO NOT get in the water, even if you are a good swimmer. Too many people have drowned here.
The water is more treacherous than you may think. Climbing on the rocks is dangerous also. The water and algae make them very slippery. People fall from the rocks and injure themselves frequently.
Nearby Points of Interest
When discussing nearby points of interest, the obvious thing to say is Cades Cove. You could spend all day in Cades Cove and not want to leave at the end of the day. Cades Cove Campground, Cades Cove Picnic Area, and the Townsend community are all close by.