Abrams Falls, Great Smoky Mountains

October 24, 2010

iking Trail in Cades Cove

Abrams Fall

Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult

Length : 2.5 miles (one way)

Abrams Falls is a hiking trail in the midst of Cades Cove. This trail is what I would called a “long” 5 mile hike round trip. I say this because, as I think some hikers could probably recognize (and this is admittedly very subjective), some trails just seem to keep going on and on. Also, the trail makes several climbs up, down, and then back up the ridge that approaches the falls. Despite this fact, or perhaps because of it, this is a trail that must be hiked in Cades Cove. The trail has beautiful views of Abrams Creek, views from the top of the Arbutus ridge, and then finally, the hiker is rewarded with Abrams Falls and the surrounding valley. I struggle to think of a hike that offers as much in the Cades Cove area, and that says a lot considering the number of great hikes in and around Cades Cove.

The trail itself begins just past a gravel parking area, and is continued by crossing a bridge over Abrams Creek.

Abrams Falls (7)

Abrams Falls (5)

Abrams Falls (8) Abrams Falls (9)

Take a left past the bridge, and the trail then begins running parallel to the Creek, and climbing Arbutus ridge on a slow gradual ascent.

This climb is very interesting, there are numerous opportunities to see white tail deer. In fact, just as I came across the bridge, I unintentionally spooked a very large buck that I was only about 4 feet from. It gave us both quite a scare. As I looked more carefully, there was another large buck only 10 feet from him, and several doe on the ridge surrounding the trail.

Abrams Falls (12)

The hiking stick propped on the tree is what I was reaching for when I accidentally startled this buck. He looked none to pleased to have a stranger that close, and I backed away quickly.

Abrams Falls (22) Abrams Falls (24)

Abrams Falls (27) Abrams Falls (28)

Continue up and down the ridge, and be careful on  rocky portions of the trail as the elevation begins to climb pretty rapidly as you near the top of Arbutus.

Abrams Falls (33)

As the trail continues, it will again begin to descend again, and eventually cross a small side creek that runs off of Abrams Creek.

This is the first of a number of small log bridges that will be crossed on this trail.

Abrams Falls (45) Abrams Falls (52) Abrams Falls (56)

The elevation on Abrams trail becomes steeper shortly after this bridge, and will eventually reach the top of a steep narrow ridge. To each side of the ridge, one can see the winding Creek below. Congratulations you’ve now hiked a little over 1 mile on this trail (I told you this seems like a long trail).

Abrams Falls (64) Abrams Falls (68) Abrams Falls (73)

Abrams Falls (75)

The trail then switches back down the ridge on the other side.

Abrams Falls (80) Abrams Falls (88)

At the bottom of this descent the trail winds around a small, but very green mountain runoff, before beginning to ascend back up the ridge again.

Abrams Falls (99) Abrams Falls (101) Abrams Falls (109)

At the base of this descent, another small creek crossing over a split log bridge is made.

Abrams Falls (114)

The trail ascends on final, long hill, before dropping back down to creek level and approach the falls. The final approach crosses a much wider creek. Careful after this crossing, in the winter, the rocks on the other side get really icey, and I saw one hiker slide right off into the creek.

Abrams Falls (146)

And finally…..ABRAMS FALLS

Abrams Falls (162)

Abrams Falls (167)

Abrams Falls (174)

Abrams Falls (178)

The trail follows the same path on its return.

Abrams Falls (4)

Nearby Trails:

Hannah Mountain Trail – 5.1 miles

Elijah Oliver Place Trail – 0.5 miles

Directions from Gatlinburg:

1. Take 441 towards Sugarland Visitors Center

2. Turn Right at Visitor’s Center on Little River Road.

3. Follow Little River Road onto Laurel Road, and the entrance to Cades Cove.

4. At entrance, Go 5 miles on Cades Cove Loop Road

5. Turn Right on gravel road between a large grassy field.


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2 Responses to Abrams Falls, Great Smoky Mountains

  1. Tracy @ The UnCoordinated Mommy on March 21, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    Thanks for such a detailed description of the trail! My husband and I are planning a trip to Cade’s Cove soon. We are not experienced hikers, but are in OK physical shape. I don’t exercise but chase two young children around 🙂 Do you think we could handle this trail?

    • JP on March 22, 2013 at 6:16 am

      I don’t see a reason why not. When we did it, “Ok physical condition” would have been an overstatement. This time of year would be especially enjoyable up there, as it should be cool, but not cold, but make sure to check the weather and dress in layers.

      I think the key with any strenuous hike is to allow for enough time. If you pace yourself and allow for plenty of time to take breaks, there’s no reason the hike won’t be enjoyable. There’s nothing dangerous about the hike itself, and there’s no rock climbing required.

      As far as children go, I can’t really speak to that. It is a long hike, and that may be a bit of an extreme entry into hiking for kids. Kids may be better suited to new hiking with a hike such as Laurel Falls.

      I recommend bringing some water, and maybe a little snack to make the hike more enjoyable.

      I hope this helps, and I hope you enjoy your trip to the Smokies.

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