Ramsey Cascades, at somewhere around 100', is the highest waterfall in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This large multi-tiered cascade is formed by the Middle Fork of the Little Pigeon River as it plunges over an impressive cliff face worn smooth by eons of rushing water. Located on the western slopes of towering Mount Guyot, access to Ramsey Cascades is located about midway between Gatlinburg and Cosby Campground in the Greenbrier area.
The hike to the falls is somewhat lengthy, as far as waterfall hikes go, but in this part of the park the journey is just about as enjoyable as the destination. Ascending over 2,000-feet along its 4 mile length the path twists and turns through a wonderful variety of ecosystems...from river banks to laurel thickets to high-elevation cove forests to some of the most impressive old-growth groves in the entire National Park. Starting off (the first 1.5 miles) the trail is quite easy to travels as it follows an old roadbed high above the rushing waters of the Middle Fork. Two-and-a-half miles from the parking area the trail leaves the old roadbed and begins to climb, though never steeply by Smoky Mountain standards, making several river crossings along the way. Within a half mile of the waterfall things get a bit more interesting as the trail really starts to steepen as it makes its way up a very rocky ravine. The reward for all this effort is well worth it. Despite the rigors of the hike this is still a very popular trail. Rarely along this hike did I go for more than a few minutes at a time without passing <i>someone</i>. It hardly mattered to me though as my surroundings so consumed my attention and fascination. I'd highly recommend a visit to Ramsey Cascades if you're decently fit and comfortable traveling 8-miles of at-times rugged terrain. This was a fabulous hike...I even had my first Smoky Mountains backcountry bear encounter to liven things up even more! Come on along with me and see what I discovered...
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 35.702710, -83.357569
Hike Length: 8.0 miles Hike Duration: 4:00
Trailhead Temp: 75'F
Min. Elevation: 2,080' Max. Elevation: 4,270'
Total Vertical Gain: 2,190' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 548 ft.