Hen Wallow Falls Trail–Great Smoky Mountains–Cosby, Tennessee

November 8, 2012
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Hen Wallow Falls

Distance: 2.2 Miles One Way

Difficulty: Moderate

Notes of Interest: Be very bear aware in this area, it is well known for black bear activity.

Hen Wallow Falls is an easy to moderate hiking trail beginning at the Smoky Mountain NPS’ Cosby Campground.  The trail begins near either the back corner of Section A in the campground or across from the Cosby Campground Parking area (for non-campground campers), and is actually part of the much longer Gabes Mountain Trail.

The first half mile or so of this trail is a relatively flat hike through a hemlock forest surrounded by the occasional rhododendron thicket.

Hen Wallow FallsHen Wallow FallsHen Wallow FallsHen Wallow FallsHen Wallow FallsHen Wallow Falls

The trail slowly begins to roll up and down several short hills before moving into a more steady descent that crosses of Hen Wallow Creek.

Hen Wallow Falls

Hen Wallow FallsHen Wallow FallsHen Wallow FallsHen Wallow FallsHen Wallow FallsHen Wallow FallsHen Wallow FallsHen Wallow Falls

After a little over a mile of hiking, the trail then begins to ascend again to the edge of the mountainside that will from the face of Hen Wallow Falls.

Hen Wallow Falls

Hen Wallow FallsHen Wallow FallsHen Wallow FallsHen Wallow Falls

As the trail approaches the top of the hillside, it narrows and the surroundings become somewhat rockier.  At 2.1 miles, the Hen Wallows Trail branches to the right, and rapidly descends the final miles along a narrow mountainside edge.

Hen Wallow Falls

At the base of the trail, Hen Wallow Falls is a 90’ waterfall which begins as a narrow 2’ wide trickle at its top before spreading to nearly 20’ at its base.  The trail approaches its rocky, boulder lined base.

Hen Wallow FallsHen Wallow FallsHen Wallow FallsHen Wallow Falls

The trail returns back along this branch.   One word of warning. As I returned back along this dense section of trail, I came within 3 feet of a black bear. Fortunately, she and I both scampered back in opposite directions before she stood up on her two hind legs on a tree about 15 feet away and got a good look at me (and I her).   After retreating a good 100 yards or back to the base of the falls, and waiting a good 10 minutes. We returned up the trail, and she seems to have continued on her way as well.   Be very bear aware, and make lots of noise when hiking in the Cosby area so as not to surprise them. With possibly the exception of Roaring Fork, it is one of the most active bear areas in the Smokies.

 

Directions:

From Gatlinburg:

1. Follow TN-73/ US 321 East for  18 miles toward Cosby, TN.

2. Turn right onto TN-32 and follow signage toward Cosby campground.

3. Park in the designated hiker parking area at Cosby Picnic Area

4. Across the street and about 100 yards back along the road to the signed start of the Gabes Mountain Trail.

Cosby

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