Ramsey Cascades: Hiking Guide

February 18, 2014

Want to see the highest waterfall accessible by trail in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Then hike to Ramsey Cascades.

The waterfall hike is 8 miles roundtrip, with an elevation gain of 2,375 feet, and is considered moderately strenuous. It takes about 5-7 hours to hike to the waterfall and back, but the trip is worth it once you seeing beautiful Ramsey Cascades.

To start your hike, head to towards Traffic Light #3 in Gatlinburg. From there, you’ll travel eastbound on Hwy 321 for about 6 miles. Turn right into Greenbrier (there will be a sign), and proceed to follow this road for 3.2 miles before turning left at the sign for Ramsey Cascades. From there, it’s another 1.5 miles to the trailhead.

Ramsey Cascades

Photo Credit: Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Once you’ve arrived, grab your hiking pack filled with supplies and a camera and start the adventure. The first 1.5 miles of the trail follows an old gravel road until it reaches an old traffic circle, marking the end of the old roadway. Soon, you’ll enter the largest old-growth forest remaining in the national park. This forest was one of the few not harmed by the mass logging done prior to the National Park being created. Some of the trees seen are some of the largest known in the park. Eastern hemlocks, basswoods, silver belles and yellow birches are a few of the species of trees found here.

Ramsey Cascades trail also follows rushing rivers and streams for much of its length, adding to the beauty of the hike. Numerous waterfalls and rapids line the stream, too, with a wooden foot bridge crossing over the Ramsey Prong section of the Little Pigeon River. From this bridge, it’s not too much further to the cascades.

The main section of Ramsay Cascades is a 50' waterfall over several ledges into a small pool, with the creek then flowing over a couple of smaller cascades. It is picture perfect and easily one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the park. Take your time. Soak up the scenery. Eat your packed lunch. Then, head back to the trailhead and marvel at the natural beauty you just beheld. This is what vacationing in Gatlinburg is all about!


Written By Ashley

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