Wednesday, October 01, 2014
Abram Falls Trail - Cades Cove, GSMNP (Gatlinburg, TN)
If you find yourself in Cades Cove and tire of the bumper to bumper traffic on the loop, take a detour just passed stop #10 and proceed to hike the Abram Falls Trail, you will not be disappointed.For those unfamiliar with Cades Cove, it is a popular destination in the western corner of the Great
Smokey Mountains National Park (GSMNP), and is visited by thousands each year. Situated approximately 25-miles west of Gatlinburg, Cades Cove is in a picturesque valley surrounded by gorgeous mountain views. An 11-mile one way counter clockwise looping road allows for car and bike traffic to enjoy the scenery. The loop takes you past a number of homesteads and churches dating as far back as the 1820’s, and is a popular location for black bear and deer sightings.
After passing stop #10 on the loop you cross Abram Creek and turn right onto a gravel road; at the end of the road is a parking lot and the site of the Abram Falls Trailhead. Just 2 ½-miles away, along a trail that parallels Abram Creek you will find a beautiful 20-foot waterfall and pool.
When we arrived at the parking area on a Thursday afternoon in late September, a Park Ranger stood at the trailhead displaying furs of a river otter and beaver. She explained the efforts the Park Service had taken to reintroduce the otter back into the GSMNP after it had been trapped out many decades ago.
The trail is an out and back to the falls, round trip distance is 5-miles with modest elevation gains. The much used path takes you up and over several hills but is labeled a moderate hike in all the hiking guides. Dropping down a final ridge Abram Falls is visible through the tree-line and after crossing a tree-trunk bridge over the creek you enter the cove that contains the fall’s plunge pool and a stunning view of Abram Falls. Water cascades over the lip of the falls in two streams before merging into a curtain of white foamy water.
We spent half an hour lazing by the pool and falls, eating our lunch, taking photos and enjoying the scenery. After packing up, we backtracked the path to the trailhead, got back into our car and reentered the parade of slow moving vehicles as they traversed the Cades Cove loop.
The 5-mile trail can easily be hiked in 3-hours. It contained moderate elevation change (approx. 350-ft), great scenery, a distinct crest, a nice stream side path, and waterfall.