TO THE TRAILHEAD: From Gatlinburg, take 321 towards Cosby. You will take this road all the way until it ends and turn right. You will drive about two miles until you reach the Cosby Picnic area and park in the hiker parking there. The trailhead is across the street.
THE HIKE: If you are looking for a great little hike, a nice waterfall, and not a ton of crowds, this hike is a great choice. It is not in the “center of the action” around Gatlinburg, Cherokee, or Townsend. It is not a massive waterfall (If you picture Niagara Falls, you will be disappointed). However, it is a great waterfall on a great hike. This 2.2 mile each way moderate hike will give you a challenge without wiping you out for the rest of the day.
You will begin your journey on the Gabes Mountain Trail. The path somewhat gently ascends for a short time before the real ascents begin. In summer, this journey is a welcome relief from the harsh rays of the sun. Dense forest line your way up the mountain. In winter, the ice in the trees and snow underfoot make a gorgeous hike. If the trail is snow covered, watch out for your footing. In normal weather, it is easy to trip on the roots and rocks of the uneven trail surface. This is made far more difficult when the trail is covered.
There are several “unofficial” side trails along the way leading to the campgrounds, a cemetery, water, etc. You will go straight on the trail until you reach the marked side trail that takes you to the falls 2 miles into your hike. After steady uphills, you will go steeply down to the base of the falls. It is easy to lose your footing in this area, so use caution. The falls are very narrow at the top and gradually expand to roughly twenty feet at the bottom of the 90 foot wall of cascading water. These falls are especially beautiful in the winter when ice covers the falls. It is a wonderful photo-op, so as always in the Smokies, be sure to have your camera handy.
If you are looking for true solitude in the Smokies, keep hiking on Gabes Mountain Trail. There is rarely another soul around and there is a campsite (#34) close by. There are places in Cosby to get a shower, so doing an overnight hike in this spot is especially nice. If the falls is your final destination, just take the return 2.2 miles back to your car.