Of all the hiking trails that snake through the historic Cades Cove area of the Great Smoky Mountains, the Abrams Falls Trail is probably the most well known. Taking hikers through pristine forested terrain full of white-tailed deer, wild turkeys and other wildlife, the trail is 5 miles round trip and can take anywhere from 2.5 to 4 hours to complete. The highlight of the hike and the namesake of the trail is Abrams Falls. At 20 feet tall, Abrams is by no means the tallest waterfall in the country, but it does flush through an incredible volume of water and attracts thousands of visitors each year.
Abrams Falls Trail starts just off of the 10th stop on the Cades Cove loop. During peak tourist season between July and August, the trail can attract more than 1000 visitors a day. In order to avoid the crowds, it’s best to visit in the spring or fall, or arrive early in the morning during the summer. The trail traverses numerous streams and other water features along the way and includes several log bridges. In the summer Cades Cove blooms with rhododendrons, making for a colorful walk through the woods. In the fall, the trail’s deciduous trees change into hues of orange, auburn and red.
The trail makes for a beautiful hike regardless of the season and is suitable for most novice hikers. There is an 1800 feet ascension over the course of the 2.5 mile path to the falls. For most of the way, Abrams Creek will not be out of sight. Considered one of the best fly fishing spots in the nation, the streams and creeks in Cades Cove are filled with beautiful rainbow trout, which can be fished throughout the year. Along with fish, sightings of white-tailed deer, wild turkeys and even black bears are possible. Throughout the hike, visitors will be serenaded by the songs of wild birds up in the forest canopy, which consists of a harmonious mixture of oak, maple and hemlock trees.
It is important to keep in mind that there are no restrooms or sources of drinking water along Abrams Fall Trail. Visitors to the trail are advised to carry their own water as well as a light snack for the journey. Appropriate clothing and shoes should also be worn. While the creek around Abrams Falls is a popular swimming spot, it is not recommended by the local authorities due to strong undercurrents. So long as the proper preparation and safety precautions are taken, this trail makes for a beautiful half day hike that it suitable for families.