Hiking the Ramsey Cascades Trail in the Smoky Mountains

The Greenbrier section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an area of the park that is renowned for its beautiful wildflowers during the spring months. Greenbrier is also home to one of the natural treasures within the park: Ramsey Cascades. This is the tallest waterfall in the park and one of the most spectacular! Read on to find out more about hiking the Ramsey Cascades Trail and what to expect along your hike:

Round Trip Length 8 Miles
Elevation Gain Over 2,000 feet
Trail Highlights Tallest waterfall in Smokies, old growth forest, wildflowers

Trailhead:

trail leading to ramsey cascadesFrom the Parkway in Gatlinburg at traffic light #3, follow Highway 321 east for 6 miles and turn at the Greenbrier entrance into the national park. From there, follow the clearly marked signs for 4.7 miles to the Ramsey Cascades Trail. Parking is available along the sides of the road.

Trail Description:

The roundtrip distance to Ramsey Cascades is 8 miles and is considered strenuous in difficulty. The trail to the waterfall gains more than 2,000 feet in elevation over its 4-mile course and follows along rushing rivers and streams for much of its length. The last 2 miles pass through old-growth cove hardwood forest with large tulip trees, basswoods, silver bells, and yellow birches. You can expect some rugged terrain during the last 1/3 of a mile. Despite the fairly difficult hike, you will likely see a fair amount of hikers along this trail during the peak seasons.

Ramsey Cascades is the tallest waterfall in Great Smoky Mountains National Park where water drops 100 feet over rock outcroppings. The water collects in a small pool where numerous camouflaged salamanders can be found. You should allow between 5 to 7 hours to hike to the falls and back.

Notes About the Trail:

  • During the spring months, the Ramsey Cascades Trail is a fantastic option to see the beautiful wildflowers!
  • Be sure to bring plenty of drinking water with you! Due to the length and elevation gain, this trail is considered strenuous for most hikers.
  • Sturdy hiking shoes with ankle supports are recommended for this hike as portions of the trail are very rocky. Do not attempt to hike the trail in sandals or flip flops.
  • The rocks are very slippery due to mist and algae, so do not climb on the rocks around the waterfall. Also, be sure to closely supervise children at all times.
  • Black bears have been spotted along the Ramsey Cascades Trail so please be mindful of the wildlife and maintain a safe distance at all times.

The hike up to Ramsey Cascades may be considered strenuous, but it is well worth the effort to see this stunning waterfall! If you are interested in exploring some more scenic waterfall hikes, check out our list of the “6 Best Hiking Trails in the Smoky Mountains National Park with Waterfalls.”