Ramsay Cascades Trail

Ramsay Cascades Trail leads to the highest waterfall in Great Smoky Mountains National Park  

The Ramsay Cascades Trail passes through an old growth deciduous forest before reaching the 100-foot high Ramsay Cascades.   Because this hike is 8 miles round trip, b
e sure to take  bottled water and a snack.  Do not leave wrappers or fruit portions on the ground.  Wear appropriate clothing and shoes.  The trail is fairly difficult.

ramsay cascades trail

The Trip on Ramsey Cascades Trail

First of all, it will take between 5-7 hours to hike Ramsay Cascades Trail.  You will follow beautiful rushing rivers and streams for most of the journey.  Before reaching the falls, you will also cross over 4 bridges.   Most of all, spectacular views and great photo opportunities await you.  The last 2 miles of your trip is old-growth cove hardwood forest with large tuliptrees, basswoods, silverbells, and yellow birches.

Do not attempt to climb to the top of the falls; several attempts have resulted in fatalities.  Also remember that pets are not permitted on this trail.  On occasion, a black bear is spotted along the trail.  Most of all, you must stay at least 150′ away from wildlife in the park.

How the Ramsey Cascades Trail Got Its Name

The trail is named for the Ramseys, who had a hunting camp here in the mid-1800s. It begins at the end of the parking area. After a short distance you will then cross the Middle Prong of the Little Pigeon River on a long and springy wooden bridge. Just across the footbridge you will see black locust trees. Most noteworthy, their presence, with small, straight tulip trees, are evidence of cutting, probably to accommodate farming.

The trail, an old graded roadbed, also climbs gradually through a forest of hemlock and mixed hardwood.  You will see large boulders and the Middle Prong on the right. In summer hikers should watch for hornets’ nests hanging over the trail at about eye level.  They look like large gray paper balls. Especially interesting on the lower part of the trail is Dutchman’s pipe vine.  Large heart-shaped leaves and curvy vines, can be found on the trees.

Directions:  Drive almost six miles east of Gatlinburg on Highway 321 and turn at the Greenbrier entrance to the park.  Follow the signs 4.7 miles to the trailhead. From Greenbrier, follow signs to the Ramsay Cascades trailhead. Elevation gain is 2,375 feet.

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