Abrams Falls Trail is THE Cades Cove waterfall hike to!
Abrams Falls is one of the best waterfalls in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Cades Cove is where you can find one of the most popular scenic drives in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
This Smoky Mountains hike to waterfalls in Cades Cove will include hiking directly alongside a river (creek!), crossing bridges (including a log bridge!), hiking through a forest, and more!
I did the hike to Abrams Falls in Cades Cove, and here’s what to know!
Abrams Falls Trail information
- Distance: 5 miles round trip
- Duration: 3-4 hours
The distance of the Abrams Falls Trail is around 5 miles round trip.
It’s officially recommended to give yourself 3-4 hours to complete the hike to Abrams Falls.
How much time you spend on the trail can depend on your fitness level, how many stops you make, and how long you spend at the waterfalls!
Abrams Falls trailhead
There is a parking lot at the Abrams Falls trailhead.
You will be driving the Cades Cove Loop Road to get to the Abrams Falls trailhead.
Your destination for google maps can be the Abrams Falls trailhead. (map)
If you’re looking for another scenic drive in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you can drive Little River Road to get to Cades Cove.
Hiking the Abrams Falls Trail in Cades Cove
Here are pictures for a little bit of what to expect when hiking in Cades Cove on the Abrams Falls Trail!
I hiked the Abrams Falls Trail in early October 2020. Pictures are from that time.
Once you’re at the Abrams Falls parking lot, the start of the trail will be obvious. So you’ll look for it, and then you can start your hike to Abrams Falls!
You will start off by walking across a bridge over a creek.
Your hike continues through the forest, and you’ll also be hiking right alongside a river for part of it. You’ll cross a number of log bridges during your hike to Abrams Falls!
Your hike continues uphill through the forest, and you’ll come across a small opening for some mountain views! You’ll continue to have more log bridge crossings.
And then you’ll have a final log bridge crossing before you see your final destination of Abrams Falls!
You will have your first glance of the waterfalls!
And then once you’ve taken in the waterfalls, back you go to the Abrams Falls parking lot and continuing your drive on Cades Cove Loop Road!
Abrams Falls Trail to Elijah Oliver historic cabin
You’ll have the chance to visit a number of historic log cabins when you drive the Cades Cove Loop Road. The first one you’ll come across is the John Oliver Cabin.
There’s also one near the Abrams Falls Trail, the Elijah Oliver cabin. If this is one of the cabins you want to see in Cades Cove, then there’s access to the cabin from the Abrams Falls Trail.
The trail to the cabin is located near the start of Abrams Falls Trail. You’ll get started on the Abrams Falls Trail, and then just past the first bridge you’ll see the sign to Elijah Oliver Place. It’s a half mile trail to the cabin, so it will be an 1 mile round trip added on to your waterfall hike. So you could add this on after you see the waterfalls depending on how you’re feeling.
You can also make a stop at the cabin by parking directly the at the Elijah Oliver Place parking lot and the walking distance is about the same, around 1 mile round trip.
If you are interested in the historical aspect of Cades Cove, be sure to pick up the Cades Cove tour booklet so you can make it a self-guided tour as you drive the loop road!
This costs $1. You can pick up a Cades Cove auto tour booklet by stopping by the information spot that’s located right before the start of the Cades Cove Loop Road. You can also find them at a Great Smoky Mountains National Park visitor center. Cash only, so bring dollar bills! If you still have time before your Smoky Mountains vacation, you can order the Smokies starter kit of tour booklets online too.
Getting to the Abrams Falls trailhead
The listed time that the Cades Cove Loop Road opens is at 8am.
I was driving through the gate at around 8:05am and it wasn’t long before there were traffic delays due to slow cars.
There was one car that just didn’t move for a solid few minutes once they saw deer. This means you’re stuck behind any cars that decide to just stop in the middle of the road.
There are pullovers, but they aren’t always utilized.
That’s just the way it goes on the Cades Cove Loop Road!
I arrived at the Abrams Falls Trail parking lot just before 8:45 am without making any stops. So it took around 40 minutes to drive from the start of the loop road to the trailhead. If there’s no traffic at all (unlikely!), then this drive would take around 25 minutes according to google maps.
So how long it will take you to drive to the trailhead will depend on the type of people who are driving in front of you once you get to the loop road! But no matter what, you can likely expect a slow going road.
Cades Cove Loop Road is one of the most popular scenic drives in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and aside from taking in the mountain views, people are looking for wildlife. And if they see said wildlife, well, there’s a good chance there will be at least a minimum stoppage on the road!
The evening before, I saw a bear climbing a tree while driving Cades Cove. Of course I had to slow down to try to get a better look at it! You will too. 😉
So don’t be too mad when people are driving ridiculously slow in front of you!
So to get to the Abrams Falls trailhead parking lot, you’ll just follow the one-way Cades Cove loop road until you see the sign for the Abrams Falls. Then you’ll drive that down road to end up at the trailhead.
There was Cades Cove morning fog!
Make it a biking + hiking day in Cades Cove?!
Biking the Cades Cove Loop Road is a thing. The loop road is 11 miles, and the Abrams Falls Trail is at around halfway of that. The road is a little hilly in spots.
If you’re ambitious and looking for a solid day of physical activity, then you can bike to Abrams Falls trailhead, and then hike to the waterfalls!
You can bring your own bike from home, or there’s a Cades Cove bike rental shop near the start of the loop road. (Don’t expect super high quality bikes though.)
In 2020, June through September had car-free days on Wednesdays on Cades Cove Loop Road.
If you’re planning a Smokies vacation in 2021, look out for the announcement of when there will be car-free times or days as your vacation date gets closer! In previous years, just mornings were designated as car-free, but 2020 had all-day designations.
See more about biking in Cades Cove.
No dogs on the Abrams Falls Trail
In general, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is not a pet-friendly park when it comes to hiking trails. Pets are not allowed on the vast majority of hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains, and that includes Abrams Falls Trail.
There are bears in Cades Cove
You will see “bear-proof” heavy duty trash containers at the Abrams Falls trailhead, and all over the national park.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is bear country! There are bears in Cades Cove. (I’ve seen one!)
Toilets at Abrams Falls trailhead
There are pit toilets (aka no-flush) at the Abrams Falls parking lot.
The other bathroom located on the Cades Cove Loop Road is at the Cades Cove Visitor Center which is on the road just beyond the turn-off for Abrams Falls. So you’ll pass it after you’re finished with your waterfall hike.
Campground near Abrams Falls
There’s the Cades Cove campground, and that would be the campground that’s near Abrams Falls. The campground is located a couple minutes drive from the start of the Cades Cove loop road.
This campground has modern bathrooms (flush toilets and sink) but no showers. (There aren’t showers at any of the campgrounds in the national park.) There’s a Cades Cove campground store nearby that sells firewood and ice, along with basic convenience store items as well as gift shop type items like souvenirs.
And that’s a bit of what it’s like on the hike to Abrams Falls!
For another great scenic drive in the Smoky Mountains with waterfalls, you can also make a trip to the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail where there are more waterfall hikes!
Be sure to see the list of more great waterfall hikes in the Smoky Mountains!
For walking in Cades Cove, see about walking part of Cades Cove Loop Road.
For biking in Cades Cove, see about biking the Cades Cove Loop Road.
For camping in Cades Cove, see about the Cades Cove Campground.
Also see things to do along the way as you drive from Gatlinburg to Cades Cove. This includes the Laurel Falls Trail that you’ll pass!
There’s also the big list of things to do in the Smoky Mountains!
HAPPY HIKING TO SEE CADES COVE WATERFALLS!
Here are more ideas for a few days in the Smoky Mountains!More of the best things that the Smoky Mountains is known for is hiking!
If you're looking for just one solid day hike in the Smoky Mountains, there's the Mount LeConte hike. Most often this is done as a day hike, but you can also stay overnight near the Mount LeConte summit! There is the LeConte Lodge, which claims to be the highest guest lodge in the eastern part of the United States! (It does book up!)
There are also lots more hikes that come with mountain views. See more about some of the best hikes in the Smoky Mountains.
There are also a lot of hikes to waterfalls. See more about the best waterfall hikes in the Smoky Mountains.
You can also go camping in the mountains. See more about the best campgrounds in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. (No showers in the national park, though!)
Cost to go to Great Smoky Mountains National ParkThere is no national park entry fee for Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but as of 2023, there is a parking fee.
You'll need a parking pass when you go to the Smoky Mountains.
You can wait until you arrive to buy the parking pass, or you can buy it online before you go at recreation.gov.
Depending on how many days you will be in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the cost of parking will be $5 or $15 per vehicle.
Plan out your time in the Smoky Mountains!Some of the best known things in Great Smoky Mountains National Park include Clingmans Dome, Cades Cove, and Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail!
For Clingmans Dome, you can get great views from the parking lot, or you can hike up to the highest point in the Smoky Mountains! (No matter what, you do need weather on your side, though! For me, 3rd time was the charm at Clingmans Dome!) See more about Clingmans Dome.
For Cades Cove, it's all about the slow-going Cades Cove Loop Road! You can drive it, bike it, or walk it! You can make stops to walk inside historic cabins, see a historic mill, and even do a waterfall hike! See more about Cades Cove.
The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is also a slow-going road that you drive and make stops along the way, including quiet stops along a creek or waterfalls hikes. See more about the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.
There are affiliate links on this page. Among others, as an Amazon Associate I may earn from purchases.