Ramsey Cascades Hike – Great Smoky Mountains

ramsey cascadesTO THE TRAILHEAD:  From Gatlinburg, take Hwy. 321 towards Greenbrier/Cosby for 6 miles.  The entrance to the Greenbrier section will be on your right.  Follow this road 4.7 miles to its end to find the trailhead, being sure to take a left in the road when it forks.

FEATURES:  100 Foot Cascading Waterfall, Old Growth Forest

THE HIKE:  This 8 mile strenuous hike is not for the faint of heart, but the payoff is worth it.  The trail gains over 2,400 feet of elevation over the four miles to the falls, so your heart will be pumping by the time you get to the end.  As you begin, you will notice that you are on a gravel road and might be fooled into thinking the hike is easy.  That feeling goes away quickly.  There are large rocks and roots ready to test your footing for almost the entire hike.  This is one hike that you do not want to wear substandard footwear.

One of the very best things about this trail is the old growth forest that is all around you.  Trees here during the logging days of the Smokies were largely left alone, and the forest flourished.  You won’t find better old growth forest anywhere else in the Smokies.  And it gets better the further you go.

Water is abundant and is your companion during the duration of the hike.  You will hike beside and over it most of the way.  There are no trail intersections on this hike to make you lose your way.  You will be too focused on your breathing to worry about it anyway as the trail gets steeper as you make your way to the Cascades that will come into view 4.0 miles into your hike.  They are gorgeous and fall from far above and below your vantage point on the trail.  Take in the views and stay awhile.  Like any waterfall, the cascades will be most impressive after a large rain, but are great at virtually any time.

One point that I cannot stress enough is to stay off the rocks at the cascades.  People get hurt when they try to climb the slippery rocks all over the cascades and several have fallen to their deaths.  Live to hike another day.  There is even a sign when you arrive telling you about the danger.  Heed the warning.

There are no campsites along this trail, so if you want to overnight, you will have to backtrack and stay at the campgrounds or take another trail close by where there are two campsites.  Though difficult, this trail is achievable by most people as a day hike that are in relatively good shape.  Also, the crowds that plague many areas of the park during peak times are not bad here.  You will likely encounter others on this popular trail, but it will be nothing like Laurel Falls or Alum Cave.

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