Spruce Flats Falls is a beautiful waterfall located in the Tremont section of the Great Smoky Mountains. The trail to reach the falls begins at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont.
The open, flat area which the institute occupies is known as “Walker Fields” and was named for Will Walker who first settled there in 1859. Known as a excellent bear hunter, Walker remained in the vicinity until the early 20th century and refused to sell any of his land to the Little River Lumber company until late in his life.
The somewhat little-known trail is only a 2.0 mile roundtrip but it is of moderate difficulty and includes some steep, rocky sections, particularly the final descent to Spruce Flats Falls itself. The trail is often traveled by student groups from the institute at Tremont but because of its location and low visibility you’ll rarely run into much traffic on the trail there.
To reach Spruce Flats Falls you’ll need to travel 2.2 miles back the Tremont road to the Great Smoky Mountains Institute and then park in the parking area in front of the visitor center. From there walk up the paved road into the Tremont complex until the pavement ends at 0.2 miles. This is where the actual trail begins. Continue into the woods and turn left uphill. At 0.1 mile the trail junctions with a path that goes strauight, take a right to continue on the Falls trail.
A 0.2 mile another junction occurs with a path going straight that connects with the Lumber Ridge Trail. Take another right here to continue to the falls. The trails continues to ascend and soon you will have a good view of Thunderhead Mountain on your right. At around 0.8 mile the trails bears to the right and begins its steep descent towards Spruce Flats Falls. This final section is very rocky and full of exposed tree roots so be extra careful during this part of your hike.
The main section of the waterfall is roughly 30-feet in height and from there the water cascades over a smaller drop until landing in a beautiful plunge pool at the bottom. Spruce Flats Branch continues on down the mountain where it connects with the Middle Prong in the valley below.
Spruce Flats Falls is a lesser-known but wonderful waterfall to visit during your trip to the Great Smokies. The short but moderate hike is well worth the effort for the beautiful site that awaits you.