Abrams Falls and its corresponding hiking trail are a popular attraction within Cades Cove. They are named after the Cherokee Chief Oskuah, who adopted the name of Abraham. To access the falls, enter the Cades Cove loop road and take the turnoff past stop #10. From here, visitors can enter the Abrams Falls Trail, which is clearly marked and one of the most popular trails in the area. The trail itself runs for a 5 miles round trip, which can be traversed in an estimated 3-4 hours. Due to the terrain, the trail is rated as moderate and may not be suitable for everyone. Please use discretion when deciding if you and your group are up to the challenge.
Along the way to Abrams Falls, hikers can expect to be surrounded by the bounty of the Great Smoky Mountains. Pine and oak forests fill the landscape along the trails ridges, while closer to the creek, light trickles down through the canopy created by tall hemlocks. Abrams Creek, which runs parallel to most of the trail, provides the sound of rushing water, making the hike a feast for the senses. Though Abrams Creek is a popular spot throughout the year, visitors comes in droves during the fall months to witness a wide spectrum of yellows, oranges and reds created by native deciduous trees. The area is also home to many species of animals including white-tailed deer, raccoons, skunks and even black bears.
The trail leads hikers through the forest and offers the option of exploring side paths along the way. One of its side trails leads to the Elijah Oliver Place, which is a very well preserved log cabin originally built in the 1800s. Other side trails that more closely follow the stream lead to popular trout fishing spots. The main trail consists of well-marked, gentle slopes that climb over and back down several ridges. Across the 5-mile hike, visitors can expect to ascend a total 1,800 feet and traverse several narrow log bridges. Before arriving at Abrams Falls, there are a series of small creek crossings, the last of which is Wilson creek. From there, visitors will be treated to spectacular views of the falls.
Though Abrams Falls only drops 20 feet, it is quite wide and empties into a 100-foot wide sparkling pool of water. The pool may be a popular swimming spot in the summer, but the National Park Service strongly recommends against swimming in the water below Abrams falls due to a strong undertow, which has resulted in accidents in the past. Instead, the beauty of the falls should be reward enough for hikers.
The National Park Service also recommends that all hikers to Abrams Falls carry with them enough water and snacks to last them the duration of the journey. It is also important to keep in mind that although the stream water may seem clear, it is not suitable for drinking before boiling. Additionally, proper hiking (or at least closed toed) shoes are highly recommended as the terrain is not suitable for sandals or flip flops. Also for safety reasons, pets and bicycles are not allowed on trails and the Park Service urges hikers not to attempt to climb any rocks near the falls or nearby streams.
With the proper shoes and provisions, the hike to Abrams Falls is a pleasant journey throughout the whole year. Due to its relatively short distance, many families choose this as a suitable day hike for kids. The region’s diversity and history as a former Cherokee territory and pioneer settlement make it an ideal place to explore within the Smoky Mountains.