Last weekend, Kyle and I hiked the Ramsey Cascades Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s an 8 mile, round trip hike that is moderate to strenuous. (I wouldn’t recommend this hike for beginners.) It’s located in the Greenbrier area of the park. I don’t typically visit the Greenbrier area, so it was pretty exciting to explore this part of the park. We completed the hike in 4 and a half hours. And we were pretty tired (and hungry) at the end of it.
This was my first time hiking the Ramsey Cascades Trail and I really enjoyed it. The Ramsey Cascades is the tallest waterfall in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Hiking through some of the old growth forests reminded me of trails at Olympic National Park. (You can read my post and see pictures from our Olympic National Park trip here.) The waterfall and the old growth forests and definitely the best parts of this hike. The worst part? What seems like neverending stone steps leading up to the waterfall. Oh, and the last mile of the hike felt a lot longer than a mile. Still worth it, though!
Ok… let’s get to the hike! (And Pictures!)
Ramsey Cascades Trailhead. Of course I had to get a picture. Exciting! 4 miles will be easy-peasy.
The trail hugs the Ramsey Prong of the Little Pigeon River. There are a few river crossings throughout the trail. Lots of beautiful views all around. You cross a bridge immediately after the trailhead, so this is one of the first views you come across.
Bridge crossing. (I think this is my favorite picture from the hike. I love it.)
Enjoying the views.
And another bridge crossing. This one is a little more natural.
Now this is when the trail started to get slightly difficult, around the 2 mile mark. Before this point it was pretty easy.
Love my hiking poles! I think they definitely helped keep my energy up during this 8 mile hike.
It really is a beautiful hike. Almost makes me forget how tired I was starting to feel at this point, and question why I decided to do an 8 mile hike. Almost.
The trail leading into the old growth forest area. It’s an incredibly beautiful and peaceful place. I’m all for mountain views and waterfalls, but there’s something special about spots like this, too.
Here’s another picture of the old growth forest.
The good thing about this hike is that it is mostly shaded, so it’s a good spot to hike in the warmer months. (Although it was still very humid. Like everywhere else in East Tennessee.) We hiked on a Sunday afternoon and it didn’t feel overly crowded. It’s a popular hike, but I think the length of it deters some people from hiking it. There were only two other groups of people at the waterfall when we made it up there.
Then you just hike up the trail with stone steps like this for about a mile and you’re there! No problem. I think Kyle and I were both silent and a little grumpy as we continued trekking up the mountain to reach the waterfall. It’s worth it, though!
I think I literally said “YAY! Finally!” when we reached the waterfall.
The pictures don’t show a very good scale of the waterfall. This photograph was shot with my widest lens (28mm) and I almost couldn’t fit the entire waterfall in the frame. I’d share the one selfie we took to show the scale, but we both look pretty disgusting, and no one wants to see that.
Kyle snapped this picture of me next to these massive trees on our way back.
Yep, those are some big trees.
If you are an avid hiker and haven’t hiked the Ramsey Cascades Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, then you definitely need to in the near future. The scenery is beautiful throughout the majority of the hike and it’s pretty cool to see the tallest waterfall in the park. It’s also an amazing hike for photographers. I love all of the pictures I took on this hike. If you are just starting out and getting into hiking, then I’d suggest an easy trail like Laurel Falls Trail or the Little River Trail.
Would I hike the Ramsey Cascades trail again? Definitely, but not for a few years… there are too many other hikes that I want to do in the meantime. This is now one of my favorite hikes in The Smokies. I’ve included it in my 7 Must Hike Trails In The Great Smoky Mountains National Park post.(Check it out for other hikes that you need to check out in The Smokies!)