Abrams Falls Trail#7 in Best Things To Do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Named for a Cherokee chief whose village once occupied a spot alongside the creek, Abrams Falls is small, but mighty. While the falls are only 20 feet high, they pump out a large volume of water, creating a long, deep pool at its base. The 5-mile, round-trip hike through the forest is considered moderate for experienced hikers, but difficult for novices, and rangers recommend carrying a supply of water and wearing sturdy hiking shoes. Swimming in the pool at the base of falls is extremely dangerous, due to strong currents and an undertow.
Many recent visitors said this hike offered a great way to escape the summer heat, with many recommending hikers pack a picnic lunch to enjoy by the water. Some also advised using hiking poles on the rough and unpaved path, and many noted that this trail was particularly crowded with amateur photographers. Hikers also suggest setting out on the trail early in the morning or later in the afternoon to enjoy some peace and quiet. One family noted that although the hike is fairly long their children were enthralled with the scenery.
The trailhead is located past the No. 10 stop on the Cades Cove Loop Road. Pets and bicycles are not allowed on the trail. The area is known for its abundant wildlife, so check the park website for information on bear safety. Access to the trail is free.
More Best Things To Do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
#1 Newfound Gap Road
Also known as notches or passes, gaps are the low points in a mountain ridge. The Newfound Gap, which sits at an elevation of 5,046 feet, is the lowest drivable pass in the park. The 31-mile, scenic Newfound Gap Road – U.S. Route 441 – runs through the center of the park from the Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, Tennessee, over the mountains and into Cherokee, North Carolina. Mile markers denote several interesting attractions along the way, including the Newfound Gap, Mingus Mill, the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and Mountain Farm Museum, and the Smokemont Campground and Nature Trail.
Recent travelers who drove along this route raved about the mountain views and photo ops, although some called the twisting mountain road "an automotive roller coaster." Many recommended the Newfound Gap visitor area for its quality facilities and access to trailheads, noting that the Appalachian Trail also crosses here. If you're visiting on a holiday weekend, prepare for crowds: some travelers said they were unable to find parking at many of the stops.
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