Mingo Falls are waterfalls in Cherokee NC, located near the Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
And, these waterfalls do give the WOW effect when you see them!
There’s a short trail to get to Mingo Falls, and you will be hiking UP to see these waterfalls.
According to the National Park Service:
At 120 feet tall, the waterfall is one of the tallest and most spectacular in the southern Appalachians.
The hike to the waterfall is only 0.4 miles in length, but is considered moderate in difficulty.
And as a bonus, if you’re lucky, you might see elk on your drive to Mingo Falls!
Mingo Falls are waterfalls near Great Smoky Mountains National Park
And if you want to further go waterfall chasing in North Carolina, you can go just outside the national park to visit Mingo Falls.
For reference, from the southern side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Oconaluftee Visitor Center in North Carolina) to Mingo Falls is around a 15 minute drive.
From Gatlinburg TN (further up north) to Mingo Falls will be at least a 1 hour drive, possibly a lot longer depending on traffic. And it can also be longer if you make stops along the way! There’s much to do along the way, including the drive from Gatlinburg to Clingman’s Dome, and then onwards south that includes the historic Mingus Mill.
Driving from Asheville to Mingo Falls
If you are driving from Asheville to the Smoky Mountains (or the Smoky Mountains to Asheville), then it’s also a perfect time to make a slight detour to go to Mingo Falls.
The direct way to drive from Asheville to Mingo Falls will take around 1.5 hours with no stops, starting off by driving I-40 from Asheville.
Once you are at Soco Gap, you can take the Blue Ridge Parkway to get the rest of the way to Mingo Falls. And while you are at Soco Gap, you may also want to make a short side trip to Soco Falls, more magnificent waterfalls in North Carolina!
You can also take the slow road by driving the Blue Ridge Parkway from Asheville the entire way.
Bathroom at trailhead
There is a toilet at the Mingo Falls trailhead
Side note! See the more of the Smoky Mountains:
- Best shoes for hiking in the Smoky Mountains
- Best hikes with VIEWS in the Smoky Mountains
- Best scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains
- Driving the scenic route from Gatlinburg to Clingman's Dome
- Driving the slow scenic route from Gatlinburg to Cades Cove
- The big list of things to do in the Smoky Mountains
PHOTOS for a little bit of what to expect when hiking the trail to Mingo Falls!
And getting there
I hiked to Mingo Falls in late September 2020, and pictures are from that time. This visit was following (and during!) rain so that surely helped in seeing more water flow at the waterfalls!
So for google maps, you can put in Mingo Falls as your destination to get to the general area of Cherokee.
But once you start getting close, you’ll want to start looking for signs. I guess the directions might point you in the wrong direction because there are clear signs that tell you NOT to go a certain way. I imagine that the sign is there because many people are following directions that lead to the wrong spot. So just be on the lookout!
As you are driving to Mingo Falls, you will be passing through the area of Cherokee Indians. You will even see signs that are in a foreign language! (The language of the Cherokee.)
Shortly after you pass the school is where there was a small field and I saw an elk!
👆 Appropriately named street! Shortly after passing “Elk Crossing Road” at the school is where I did see elk!
So after you have made it to the Mingo Falls trailhead and parked your car, you can start the trail! It starts directly from the parking area with the stairs.
And after around 10 minutes of walking, you will reach a bridge, and you can see Mingo Falls right in front of you as you are standing on the bridge!
And then once you’ve spent time taking in the views of Mingo Falls… head back down!
And that’s a bit of what it’s like on the hike to Mingo Falls!
If you are staying in Gatlinburg, be sure to see ideas of things to do on your drive to Mingo Falls:
- Stops to make on the drive from Gatlinburg to Clingman’s Dome
- Hiking Clingman’s Dome
- Mingus Mill
- Where to see elk on NC side of Smoky Mountains
You may also like Soco Falls, a 30 minute drive from Mingo Falls.
Also be sure to see the list of great waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains!
HAPPY VISIT TO MINGO FALLS!
Best shoes for hiking in the Smoky MountainsYou will want good shoes for hiking in the Smoky Mountains.
In general, the best shoes for hiking in the Smoky Mountains will be hiking boots (more ideal) or trail running shoes (more versatile for everyday activities compared to hiking boots but still will give you advantages compared to regular shoes).
I liked wearing my hiking boots for the thicker soles (good on rocky trails) and the waterproof (water resistant) nature of them.
They were especially helpful on rainy day hikes to keep my shoes (and socks!) dry! They are also better to be walking on mud compared to regular shoes.
On rougher terrain (like the trails that are a bit rougher with more rocks), hiking boots are more ideal so you won't feel it on the bottoms of your feet as much.
If you want shoes that can work out better as everyday "out and about" kind of shoes, then you might like trail running shoes better! Trail running shoes are a little more durable than regular shoes, so they can also work out as good hiking shoes. Trail running shoes are a bit lighter weight and less bulky compared to hiking boots.
Shoe fit is very important for your feet! Be sure to break in your new shoes by walking around the neighborhood and/or at the grocery store before you go on your "big hike" in the Smoky Mountains!