Millions of people pay a visit to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park each year, and they don’t limit their visits to the spring, summer or fall. It is a year-round destination, full of beautiful and unmatched scenery, lots of native flora and fauna, and many things to do. After all, you can enjoy visits to historic buildings while in the park, take driving tours along amazing roadways and scenic highways (including the brand-new section of the Foothills Parkway), and even go hiking.
Winter Hiking is Amazing
In fact, the winter hiking is quite amazing with trails for all levels of experience. And if you are considering a hike into the glorious wintertime landscape in the Smokies, you may want to pay attention to any opportunities for waterfall viewing. The National Park Service explains that there are “over 2,000 miles of streams in the Smokies, dotted with sparkling waterfalls and cascades” and around 40 waterfalls that you can reach by trail or even by car.
If you are going to be paying a visit to the area this winter, you don’t even have to get dressed up for a day on the trails because there are also several gorgeous waterfalls that you can reach and view by car!
The Winter Waterfalls of the Smokies
Let’s start with the waterfalls easiest to enjoy from the coziness of your car or truck. There are several spots recommended by experts and hikers alike.
Meigs Falls – Take Little River Road in the park and at roughly 13 miles west of the Sugarlands Visitor Center, you will find the pull-off area for year-round views of the falls. Don’t go fast because it is a “blink and you miss it” pull-off. You will be astonished at the volumes of ice that build up on these lovely falls.
The Sinks – This is also another set of falls located along the Little River Road, and you will hit this one around 12 miles from the Sugarlands Visitor Center. It has an easier-to-find parking area, and though the falls are not as high as others, they are often stunning because the entire volume of the river flows through this area, building up loads of ice.
If you wish to hike, you can easily reach spots like Laurel Falls, situated at the northern end of the park, or Tom Branch Falls at the southern end. Both are reached by moderate hikes that are well worth the effort. In fact, Laurel Falls is popular all year long and is just a 1.3-mile paved trail with truly stunning scenery. Skilled hikers may head to Rainbow Falls, a 5.5-mile trail or Alum Cave Bluff Trail that is the tallest peak in the park.
Do pay attention to the weather reports no matter what sort of waterfall viewing you have planned and reschedule if any extreme conditions are predicted. The scenery from your cozy cabin can be just as appealing as anything you might see from the car or during a hike, and you can plan a return visit in the spring if you want to see the falls when they wake back up for the season!
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