Hiking the Cataract Falls Trail in the Smoky Mountains

September 14, 2020

If you’re looking for a short, simple hike, then you should go on the Cataract Falls Trail in the Smoky Mountains. The path is easily laid out, making it pretty simple to follow. It’s considered easy, so it is perfect for small children and older adults. Find out more about Cataract Falls below:

Round Trip Length 1.1 Miles
Elevation Gain 29 feet
Trail Highlights Waterfall, nature


cataract bridgeThe trailhead for Cataract Falls is right outside of Gatlinburg. Take Highway 441 out of Gatlinburg into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Sugarlands Visitor Center will be on your right. Turn right on Little River Road and park at the Sugarlands Visitor Center. To find the trail, begin walking down the concrete path near the outdoor restrooms and vending area. There is a gravel path just to the left of the building, and this is where Cataract Falls trailhead is located.

Trail Description

If you want to get outside and enjoy the fresh air, this is the perfect trail for that. It is usually used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and bird watching. The trail starts off paved, making it perfect for accessible hiking, but then it eventually turns to gravel. You’ll cross over a footbridge on Fighting Creek with sturdy railings. Right after the first bridge, you’ll see a hollow tree kids enjoy playing in.

cataract falls smoky mountains

Most of the trail follows alongside the creek, and you might see fungi growing on trees or wildflowers in the spring. Eventually you’ll go under a bridge and up a small flight of stairs. Then, you’ll see Cataract Falls. This waterfall is 25 feet tall. It is especially impressive after it rains in the mountains. This trail is an out and back, so you’ll hike to the end, then turn around and walk back.

Trail Map

Cataract Falls Trail in the Smoky Mountains is a great trail for people of all ages and skill sets. You’ll love seeing the beauty of nature along this walking trail. Looking for other simple hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains? Here are some short hikes in the Smoky Mountains you should try!