Hike to Spruce Flats Falls

2 miles 478 ft gain

Added by Nathan Szwarc

An easy to moderate hike that will lead you to a beautiful four tiered waterfall with the largest tier being close to forty feet. In America's busiest national park this hike is not on most trail maps and is a lesser known quieter trail.

To get to Spruce Flats Falls, you will want to drive down 2.2 miles down the scenic Tremont Road to the Great Smoky Mountains Institute and park in the visitor center parking area. You will then want to ascend up the gravel road past the sign that says restricted to unrestricted traffic (meaning cars). Once you have climbed a very short distance you will see a trail sign and map to your right with the word falls in bright colors and an arrow under the word falls pointing to your left.

Follow the arrow to your left and walk past a long building until you quickly reach another trail split. At this first trail split, you will take a right following a small brown sign that says falls. You will immediately begin a slight incline as you close in on another trail split at 0.2 miles. At this second trail split, you will connect onto the Lumber Ridge Trail by taking a right at the trail split. There is also another small brown falls sign at the second trail split pointing to the right; follow that sign. From here you will start up a good incline with a few switchbacks that will take you to a rocky overlook that will provide you with views of what I believe are the Middle Prong Little River and Thunderhead Mountain. However, the view is limited because of the leaves. Even in the winter it is just average, but do not let this deter you, because you are closing in on the falls. Once you have gone 0.8 miles you will begin a steep descent to the waterfall. This part can be a bit treacherous, especially if wet and muddy; however, as long as you take it slow and use the stairs the park has built out of a tree, you will be perfectly fine. Once you have fully descended, you will reach the picturesque falls.

The falls is made up off four tiers with the tallest being 30 feet high. Feel free to walk around the falls and see it from all angles, just be careful when stepping on any rocks as they can be slippery. Even though this is a lesser known trail, I would still try to show up early to avoid any crowds. This waterfall is great to photograph because it remains darkened by the hills around it until midday, so definitely make sure to grab your tripod and get some good shots. To return simply go back the way you came in and remember it will get easier after that initial hard ascent on the return. As always make sure to leave the trail in better condition than you found it.

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Tags

Photography
Hiking
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Waterfall

Reviews

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A Lot Of Terrain

This hike isn't very long and the end result is well worth it! The falls are beautiful! Not a super kid friendly hike. My friends carried their kids. (Ages 5 &2)

Best Kept Secret

This hike is not on the National Park map but is a great hike. My daughter and I had a chance to enjoy another picturesque day in the Smokies and some quality time together. I'm so thankful to call these mountains home! I have an Airbnb right on the Little River, about 2 miles from GSMNP entrance. Everyday is an adventure!

Family hike

We took our kids to the mountains today with no destination in mind. We stopped at Tremont center to ask for a decent family option and were pointed to this trail. Early in the hike there were some narrow paths with steep drop offs but ultimately it was a great hike and my 7 and 4 year old had a blast and did well while my 1 year old enjoyed the trip up and back in the kid pack. It's a beautiful waterfall to reward your effort and there were some nice shallows that the girls enjoyed playing in.

Great Morning Jaunt

I've parked at Tremont so many times over the years to go on overnight backpacking trips, and had never heard about Spruce Flats Falls. What a great spot and a nice pay off for a quick hike. I headed up at the crack of dawn in sub-freezing temps to find the trail empty and the falls flowing. This was my first trip to the Smokies in 5 years, after moving back to Tennessee from California. It was a great reminder of that certain air and age that only these mountains seem to possess.

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