Abrams Falls Trail

Abrams Falls is a fantastic hike! photo credit - gsmnp

Abrams Falls is a fantastic hike! Photo credit – gsmnp

Abrams Falls Trail has it all! The 20-foot Abrams Falls is an amazing natural wonder and a rewarding rewarding hike! The five-mile round-trip Abrams Fall Trail, located in Cades Cove, is classified as a moderate to difficult trek due to several ascending and descending ridges along the way. Those accustomed to a bit more challenging hikes will be rewarded when they reach the imposing 20-foot waterfall.

The trailhead is accessed at the back of a grassy field about half way around the Cades Cove Loop road and begins at a wooden bridge. Bear right after the bridge to visit the historic Elijah Oliver Place. Like other cabins in the cove, the Oliver place is a perfectly preserved homestead, offering a glimpse of life for early cove settlers.

Back to the main trail, turn left and follow the well-marked path that runs parallel to beautiful Abrams Creek, and leads through a variety of natural growth that includes hemlocks, a pine-oak forest and massive growths of rhododendron (referred to as a “hell” of rhododendron by anyone who has ever hiked through them.)

The trail, which marks an elevation gain of 340 feet and is home to numerous scenic overlooks, has a total elevation change of about 1,800 feet with the combined ascents and descents. It also crosses three narrow log bridges. Pets and bicycles are prohibited on the trail.

Proper hiking gear is a must for any hike. Check out our great blog on “Hiking Essentials” to make sure you and your family are prepared for this hike or any other Smoky Mountain adventure.

Many visitors are tempted to swim in the enticing pool located at the base of the falls. Be Warned; the volume of water thundering over the cliffs of Abrams Falls creates dangerous undertows and strong currents. Climbing on or near the falls is also not a good idea. Rocks surrounding both the falls and the pool below are coated in mist and algae and are extremely slippery and sometimes unstable. Over the years, several people have fallen to their deaths, and many other suffered serious injuries from climbing on rocks near waterfalls. Backpacker Magazine has listed Abrams Falls Trail as one of the ten most dangerous hikes in America, citing numerous deaths that include drownings (a fatality occurred in 2006 when a “strong” swimmer disappeared near the base of the falls. He was pulled under and his body never resurfaced.) The article noted that a total of 29 water-related deaths have occurred on this trail since 1971.  According to a park spokesperson, Abrams Falls is an attractive destination that is easily reached by a 2.5-mile hike, but has strong currents and hidden hazards beneath the water that can trap unsuspecting swimmers. Lightning strikes and extreme weather changes have also proved deadly. When spending any time in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, caution is your friend. Check weather forecasts before heading out; stay on the trail; when encountering wildlife, keep a respectable distance; and never cross streams above waterfalls (people have been swept over the falls after losing their footing in little more than ankle-deep water). You should wear sturdy footwear, be prepared for sudden inclement weather and take drinking water and snacks. Keep a close watch on your children.  It takes about 3-4 hours for most people who hike this trail so if you begin in late afternoon, you could end up hiking back in the dark.

Directions: Enter the one-way Cades Cove loop and travel about five miles. Just beyond the Abrams Creek Crossing and stop #10, turn right onto a grave road that crosses between grassy fields. The Abrams Falls Trail Parking lot is located at the end of the road and the trailhead is just a few steps away.

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