panoramic view of waterfall

The Abrams Falls Trail (Great Smoky Mountains National Park)

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Abrams Falls is one of the most popular trails in the Smokies, and for good reason!

Although only 20-feet high, this waterfall does not disappoint. The amount of water that flows over the falls is impressive.

The trail is well-marked and follows along a creek, giving you the peaceful sound of flowing water while you hike.

In this post, we’ll cover some need-to-know information about the trail and show you some maps and pictures so you can be prepared for hiking to Abrams Falls!

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Hiking the Abrams Falls Trail in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

When it comes to hiking to Abrams Falls, knowing what you’re getting into is the key to success. The trail is located on the far west end of the park, and just getting to the trailhead will take a while.

But before we dive into the trail, let’s cover some things you need to know:

  • Directions
  • The Cade’s Cove area
  • Cade’s Cove Scenic Loop

Knowing these things will help you out when planning, especially if you are new to the area!

Directions to Abrams Falls

From Gatlinburg to Cade’s Cove Entrance: about 30 miles/ 1+ hours depending on traffic

From Townsend to Cade’s Cove Entrance: about 11 miles/ 20-30 minutes

Notice that in the directions above, I said Cade’s Cove “entrance.” That’s because there WILL be traffic inside the scenic loop, and I have no way of predicting what that will look like when you visit.

The traffic in the loop will depend on what day of the week you visit, the season, time of day, etc.

wide waterfall among autumn trees

Cade’s Cove Traffic

I need you to be prepared for the traffic that is around Cade’s Cove.

The first time I attempted to go to Cade’s Cove was early afternoon sometime during the fall. We ended up turning around because traffic was backed up for MILES from the Cade’s Cove entrance.

Park Rangers open the gates to Cade’s Cove at 6:30am EST. Traffic will back up long before this. My suggestion (which is what we did), get there like an hour early and just nap in the car in line until they open the gates.

Another thing to note… lots of people drive very slowly around this loop to site-see and look for wildlife, especially early in the morning. Lots of people also like to stop and take pictures. Another reason to get there early and be one of the first ones in line!

The directions from Google Maps don’t account for the traffic in Cade’s Cove and the scenic loop. So make sure you go in with the expectation that it will take longer than what it says to get to the trailhead!

Abrams Falls Map

Below is a map showing where Abrams Falls is in relation to the Cade’s Cove entrance.

NOTE: The Cade’s Cove Scenic Loop is one-way (counter-clockwise on the map). If you pass the turn off for Abram’s Falls, you’ll have to loop back around!

The Trailhead

Abrams Falls trailhead is located just past stop #10 on the Cade’s Cove Scenic Loop.

When entering Cade’s Cove from the Gatlinburg direction (east), the turnoff for the trailhead is located about 5.6 miles into the scenic loop on the right.

When coming from Townsend (north), turn right onto Cade’s Cove Scenic Loop Road. Abrams Falls Road will be about 2.3 miles down on the right.

Follow the gravel road to a parking area with pit toilets.

Alright, now that you’ve finally made it to the trailhead, let’s start the hike!

sign with info
Trailhead sign warning you that there have been 6 deaths from drowning at Abrams Falls! Also lets you know that bicycles, dogs, and horses are not allowed on the trail. And warns you about bears! Click here to find out what to do if you encounter a bear!

Abrams Falls Trail

Trail Stats:

  • Trail type: Out-and-back
  • Distance: 5.2 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 675 feet
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Time: 3-4 hours

The Trail

The Abrams Falls trail is absolutely beautiful, especially on a fall morning.

This well-marked trail follows along Abrams Creek. You will be able to see more of the creek during fall. There will be a lot of growth during the summer, blocking views of the creek. But the sound of the rushing creek is relaxing no matter which season you visit!

Note: If it’s recently been raining, the trail may be a little muddy. The being said, the more it’s been raining, the bigger the falls will be!

Along the trail are large flat rocks you can stop and rest on. And one of my favorite parts is the log bridges. (There are a bunch of log bridges on the trail to Alum Cave!)

log bridge crossing over creek

Once you reach the actual falls area, you will be greeted with a sign warning you that many have drowned at Abrams Falls and to be careful. From this point, you will be able to see the falls from a higher perspective.

Continue hiking down the trail. You may think you’re going away from the falls, but I promise you’re going the right direction.

The trail will go a little past the falls, cross a bridge, then loop back to the left. Now you’ll be at the base of the falls! This is a PERFECT place to just sit and enjoy the scenery. I absolutely loved it.

blue skies, trees, and a waterfall

Can you swim at Abrams Falls?

Yes! The swimming hole is about 100-feet wide and can accommodate plenty of people wanting to take a dip!

I haven’t personally swam here, but supposedly there is quite a strong current and several have died from drowning. So swim at your own risk!

Tips for the this hike:

  • Arrive early if you want to beat traffic. I cannot stress this enough, especially when visiting during peak times (weekends in the fall)
  • Bring layers. The trail can be cool by the water. Wear something you can easily take off once you warm up
  • Bring water & snacks. This is a no-brainer but I always feel like I need to mention it.
  • Wear your hiking boots! The trail can be muddy. I always opt for waterproof hiking boots in these conditions.
  • Use bug spray. Bugs during summertime in the south are the absolute worst.
  • Last but not least, bring your camera! If you have a DLSR, a zoom lens is great for this trail.

Well there you have it! I’ve told you everything I know about this trail. Hopefully at least some of it was useful to you and will help you plan for this hike!

I cannot emphasize enough about the traffic… but don’t let it deter you! If you can get up early, you’ll have a much better experience.

Let me know you’re favorite hike in the Smokies in the comments below! I’m always looking to add one to my list!

melissa written in cursive

Want more trails in the Smokies? Check out these other trails:

Hiking to the Alum Cave Bluffs

The Laurel Falls Trail

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Hiking the Trail to Abrams Falls in Smoky Mountain National Park!

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