Located off the Cades Cove Loop Road, Abrams Falls is one of the most popular waterfall destinations in the Great Smoky Mountains. The falls were supposedly named for Old Abraham, a Cherokee chief who once lived near the cove in the Chilhowee area.
Although it isn’t particularly impressive in its height (20 ft.), the sheer volume of water crashing over the ledge tends to overshadow that shortcoming. Abrams Creek is 35ft. wide at the top of the falls and it plunges into a deep, dark green pool that is over 100ft long and almost as wide.
The pool is a very popular place for swimmers in the summertime. However, the park service urges everyone to exercise extreme caution as strong currents and an undertow are present and have led to drownings in the past. Visitors are also discouraged from climbing on the rocks as people have fallen to their deaths there in the past.
The strong force of Abrams Falls will throw spray over 50 ft. and further. In colder months this will cause ice to form on the surrounding rocks and in the warmer months it provides a refreshing cooling effect.
Because of its close proximity to Cades Cove, keep in mind that if you make the hike to Abrams Falls during peak season expect to have a lot of company. Hundreds of visitors frequent the trail on a daily basis during those periods.
To reach the trailhead you’ll need to drive about 5 miles around the Cades Cove Loop Road. At that point watch for the signs and turn right onto a gravel road and follow it about .5 miles to the parking area.
The hike to Abrams Falls is a 5-mile roundtrip and is only moderate in difficulty. Total elevation gain is 340 feet. The trail ascends into pine-covered ridges along the way but follows the creek for most of its length. It is an especially beautiful hike in the spring and summer when the wildflowers and rhodendron are in bloom. Expect the hike to and from the falls to take you at least three hours, so plan accordingly.
Abrams Falls is without a doubt one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains. If you’re planning a visit to Cades Cove make a day of it and add the hike to Abrams Falls to your agenda, you’ll be glad you did.