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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One Response to Hen Wallow Falls Trail–Great Smoky Mountains–Cosby, Tennessee

  1. JULIE healy on April 14, 2014 at 9:12 am

    the trail is has a lot of dead fall and the recent rains has exposed the roots of trees and it is a moderate to difficult climb in my opinion.
    it was 75 degrees when we climbed and we had one water bottle each evidently it was not enough , we were all dehydrated at the end of our trek , so be wise and bring two water bottles and very little gear , we hiked it with packs and it about killed us . we wanted to be prepared if we got lost . well lesson learned on a local hike like that less weight is everything . it would have been more pleasurable if we were lighter . also we went in april and it was not that green , and the flowers had not bloomed , however I was glad that once we reached the back side of the mountain we were able to see the valley and the opposite mountain from across the valley floor , it was a rewarding view , which we probably would not have been able to see if it were in green foilage. the only down fall is my son aged 13 sprained his ankle on the last .30 mile decent back to the parking lot , he stumbled and fell ….and cost us our vacation . we had to go home ( 3.5 hrs away ) to let him heal up . so watch your step on this trail . also local community was not knowledgeable about the trail , nor could I find a ranger anywhere ….very remote and your on your own there , so be wise and be careful .

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