Hike to Abrams Falls at Cades Cove: Everything You Need to Know

The hike to Abrams Falls is a 5-mile round-trip trail at Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. It’s one of the most popular hikes in the area and for good reason! This waterfall is stunningly beautiful and cascades down from a height of about 20 feet. It’s not super tall, but it is a very full and powerful waterfall. Today I’m sharing about our experience hiking Abrams Falls Trail at Cades Cove!

Abrams Falls is a 20-foot waterfall located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This moderate hike is perfect for women looking for an outdoor adventure and a rewarding view.

With as many as 1000 people per day during peak season, this trail is one of the most popular hikes in the area! We went in early December and we saw quite a number of people, but it wasn’t too crowded. If you don’t like crowds, I recommend you go during the off season.

Abrams Falls Trail at Cades Cove

The trail is just over 5 miles round trip, making it the perfect distance for a morning or afternoon hike. With plenty of flowing water and greenery along the way, this hike provides beautiful views that are well worth the trek.

Plus, at the end of the journey lies an impressive waterfall. If you’re looking for an invigorating outdoor activity to add to your Tennessee vacation, be sure to put Abrams Falls on your list. Here’s everything you need to know before you go!  

Our Hike to Abrams Falls

I had been looking forward to this hike for a while. In fact, I’ve wanted to hike in the Smoky Mountains for years now and have just never had the opportunity. So for me, at least, this was like the beginning of a dream come true. I can’t wait for my next trail in the Smoky Mountains!

We didn’t have a lot of time. My daughter had to get back to Knoxville, Tennessee by 3:00 pm to get dressed for her performance in the Nutcracker that night and so I chose this hike based on what I had learned about it, knowing that it was an in and out hike that we could do in less than four hours.

It was the perfect opportunity to get outside and enjoy nature on a beautiful day in Tennessee. We started out early Saturday morning, eager to experience the beauty of Abrams Falls at Cades Cove!

The drive through Cades Cove to get to the Abrams Trailhead was stunning. We saw so many sites we wanted to stop and see but had to leave those for another trip.

When you start out on the trail you’ll cross a large wooden bridge that crosses over Abrams Creek. It’s a great spot to take a few pictures!

From there you begin the slight incline. The incline isn’t too bad and you’ll only find a couple of places where it’s a little steeper. However, you will gain an elevation of 675 feet (total) on this hike. I had to pause a few times to catch my breath.

You’ll walk down a set of steps to the waterfalls at the end of the trail and hike around to a rocky area where you can find a spot to sit, take photos, or eat your lunch like we did.

When you have had your fill of food, rest, and picture taking, you will hike back out the way you came.

Abrams Falls Trail Information 

Where is Abrams Falls?

Access trail: Abrams Falls Trail in Cades Cove

Abrams Falls Trail is about a 1 1/2 hour drive from Knoxville, Tennessee and definitely worth the drive! It’s a perfect day hike if you are looking for hiking near Knoxville, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, or Garlinburg – or anywhere else near there!

The trailhead is located off of the Cades Cove Scenic Drive road in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Hikers should know that the Cades Cove Loop Road is closed to cars during morning hours on Wednesdays and Saturdays, from early May until late September, so that cyclists and pedestrians enjoy the loop.

Can you spot the deer in the grass?

We saw lots of wildlife on our drive through Cades Cove to get to Abrams Falls. Cades Coves is a very popular tourist destination and there is often a lot of slow traffic along the scenic drive. I mention this because you’ll have to be patient getting to the Abrams Falls Trailhead. But I promise you’ll enjoy every minute of the drive!

Trailhead: The Abrams Falls trailhead is off of the Cades Cove Loop Road at stop #10. You will see a sign for it.

Is there parking at Abrams Falls Trailhead?

Yes. There is a parking lot at Abrams Falls Trailhead.

Are there bathrooms at Abrams Falls?

There are two unisex restrooms at the Abrams Falls Trailhead parking lot. These restrooms do not have running water and were pretty gross. I recommend using them before you start your hike. I also recommend not taking your phone or other belongings in there.

Abrams Falls Trail Details and Tips

How is Abrams Falls Trail Rated?

Difficulty Rating: The Abrams Falls hike is rated moderate difficulty. There are a couple of inclines that may leave you huffing and puffing if you aren’t in great shape, but overall, I didn’t think it was a bad hike.

However, since it’s a long trek and over hilly terrain, some people may find it to be difficult.

You will need to watch for roots, mud, and rocky terrain on parts of the trail. Wear sturdy shoes and be careful not to trip, slip, or fall. There are parts of the trail that have a steep drop-off where if you were to fall you could be badly injured or killed. However, the trail itself is wide and easy to navigate. Just pay attention to what you’re doing!

Elevation Gain: 675 feet total

How many miles is the Abrams Falls hike?

The Abrams Falls trail is 5.2 miles round trip.

How long does the hike take?

We completed our hike in three and a half hours. That included a 30 minute stop at the waterfall where we ate a simple lunch.

Depending on your fitness level, you can plan for a 3 – 4 hour hike in general.

Remember that if you start your hike along the Abrams Falls Trail in the mid to late afternoon, you may end up hiking back out after dark.

Are dogs allowed on the Abrams Falls Trail?


Tips for a Staying Safe on Your Abrams Falls Hike

If you go in the morning like we did, you’ll have the advantage of cooler temperatures and less people on the trail. This hike is popular for a reason – it’s beautiful! But with popularity comes some dangers. Be sure to take these precautions before setting out:

  • Always let someone know where you are headed
  • Stay on marked trails at all times
  • Do not climb on rocks near the waterfall – they are wet and slippery
  • Do not swim in the pool below the falls – it’s dangerous!
  • Be aware of your surroundings and do not disturb or harass any wildlife you may encounter
  • Pack out ALL your trash including banana peels, food, or toilet paper
  • Always check weather forecasts before heading out
  • Be aware that Black Bears live in the Smoky Mountains and should never be approached

Warning: No Swimming at Abrams Falls

Do not swim in the pool of water at Abrams Falls.

Because the pool at the bottom of the waterfall looks so still and clear, it can be tempting to want to go for a swim. However, there are dangerous undercurrents that you cannot see that can pull even a strong swimmer under.

There have been many drownings at Abrams Falls and it’s just not worth the risk. Stay safe!

How many people have died at Abrams Falls?

10 people have died at Abrams Falls. There is a warning sign when you enter the area off the trail to view the waterfall that the pool is dangerous and not for swimming.

What to Take on Your Hike at Abrams Falls Trail

I’m a big believer in being prepared at all times when hiking. Running out of water – especially on a hot day – can lead to disaster. And preparing for the unexpected is always a good idea.

Recommended Gear


Our hike to Abrams Falls at Cades Cove was a lot of fun and I’m excited to share our experience. I hope that sharing these insights will help make your next adventure in Tennessee even more fun than it’s already sure to be.

Thanks so much for reading and let me know if you plan on visiting Abrams Falls in the near future!

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