If you are interested in waterfalls, the Ramsey Cascades in the Great Smoky Mountains needs to be high on your list of things to do. Located in the Greenbrier area of the Smoky Mountains, the trail head is just a few minutes drive outside of downtown Gatlinburg. From the journey through the old forest, the views of some of the tallest tress in the park, to the water fall itself, Ramsey Cascade hike is a must for all visitors of the Smoky Mountain National Park.
Use caution as you make your way to the trail head as there are one lane road and bridges that can only accommodate one car at a time. Once you arrive at the trailhear, there is a sizable parking lot and plenty of places to park along the road if needed. Before you begin your journey, take some time to walk to the waters edge and take in the sights and tranquil view. This is a perfect place to relax before or (even after) your hike.
Insider Tip: While there are no restrooms at the trail head, you will pass a small restroom on your drive in.
The Ramsey Cascades Trail in Smoky Mountains is an Amazing Hike
As you begin your hike of Ramsey Cascades, you will find a clearly marked trailhead. The first 1.5 miles is a wide and relatively clear pathway, but you will need to pace yourself and not be fooled by the easy terrain, as the path is a steady upward slope the entire way. The good news is, you will find small benches periodically along this stretch of the path for you to stop and just enjoy the beauty of the hike.
At the 2.5 mile marker of your hike you will enjoy some of the oldest growth within the Smoky Mountains. At this point the trail also becomes more narrow and the terrain becomes more difficult to navigate, but do not be discouraged. Pace yourself and be careful of your footing, especially as you navigate some of the rock formations.
Throughout the hike, you will cross over 4 bridges, some providing spectacular views and great photo opportunities. One bridge in particular, located about halfway through your journey, offers a great resting spot for you and your group before you start on the final journey to the cascades. This lengthy bridge is about 20 feet above the river.
The final stretch of the hike weaves through some spectacular old growth and offers amazing views. You will make your way up and over rock formations and through some narrow pathways. As you approach the cascades, you may even feel some of the mist coming off the cascades. While this offers a unique experience, be sure to watch your footing, as some of the exposed roots and rocks can be slippery.
Once you have reached the cascades, you will be treated to a spectacular sight. As the tallest falls in all of the Smoky Mountains, the Ramsey Cascade is worth the trip. Take a seat on one of the many rocks and just sit back and enjoy the beauty that Ramsey Cascade offers.
Please use caution as you enjoy the cascade. Like a lot of locations throughout the park, the rangers do a great job to warn visitors of possible dangers along the way. However, it seems that Ramsey Cascade does provide additional warning signs to ensure that visitors are able to safely enjoy themselves without getting into dangerous predicaments.
Enjoy your hike at Ramsey Cascade. Do not let the elevation or the terrain deter you from taking this hike. Plan accordingly and make sure you enjoy yourself, as this is by far the best waterfall hike the Smoky Mountains has to offer. From the journey through the old forest, the views of some of the tallest tress in the park, to the water fall itself, Ramsey Cascade hike is a must for all visitors of the Smoky Mountain National Park.
Ramsey Cascade Trail Quick Guide
Total Distance: 8.0 miles out and back
Elevation Change: 2,190 Feet Gain, with an average of 545 feet gain per mile
Difficulty Rating: 12.75, which is considered a difficult
Restrooms Available: No restrooms at the trail head
Directions & Parking: From Gatlinburg, head eastbound for roughly 6 miles on 321 and turn right onto Greenbrier (you will find a Great Smoky Mountain National Park sign to clearly indicate this road). This road turns into a gravel road after a short distance, where you will continue to follow the signs.
Interested in finding more fantastic hiking opportunities within the Great Smoky Mountains, check out our picks for the best Smoky Mountains Hiking Trails.