As you make plans to pay a springtime visit to the Smokies, don’t forget that the arrival of the warmer weather also means one amazing thing: waterfalls! As any fan of waterfalls knows, the seasonal spring thaws can mean a lot more water and drama in even the more humble or gentler waterfalls.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has more than 100 different sets of waterfalls or cascades to be discovered, and some are famous in other parts of the world.

So, as the winter world thaws, you will want to put on your hiking boots and make a visit into the woodlands of the Smokies area in order to discover the seasonal beauty of the best waterfalls. To help you with that, we suggest three of our favorite waterfall hikes to enjoy.

Springtime Hikes in the Smokies

Did you know that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park sees more than nine million visitors every year? Many stick to the scenic drives and the simpler trails right off the pull-offs and parking areas. Yet, if you visit in the spring, you arrive ahead of the warmer weather crowd and can get the feeling that many of the trails and roads are yours to enjoy alone!

Don’t forget that a hike along any trail is not just about the waterfalls or the expansive vistas, but also about the “little things”. After all, springtime in the Smokies also means all kinds of stunning wildflowers to discover, as well as all of the different birds and native wildlife.

Yet, waterfalls are always a spectacle, no matter how big or small. Here are those great hikes for groups of all levels of experience:

  • Meigs Falls – This is one of the easiest hikes to enjoy and suited to groups with little ones in tow. It is only 13 miles from the Sugarlands Visitor Center inside of the national park, and it is very easy to overlook the parking area. It is a popular spot for winter hikes because of the waterfalls and their frozen majesty, yet in the spring they are equally beautiful. NOTE: Close by you find The Sinks, which is a cascade both powerful and beautiful to behold in the spring season.
  • Laurel Falls – Ranking as one of the most popular hikes in the region, so going in the spring is wise as you’ll enjoy easier parking and more peaceful hiking. Go early in the day and savor the 2.3 mile round trip through gentle woodlands to the 80 foot falls. Keep in mind, though, that this is bear country so watch your little ones and be aware of any signs of wildlife!
  • Rainbow Falls – This is the longest and most challenging of the spring hikes but is less than six miles in total. It is off the famous Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail and to the wall of natural rock that frames the falls. Best after a heavy rain or at the peak of spring thaw, you will want to visit early in the morning or around sunset as the light is quite dramatic. This is not ideal for kids as it can be slippery and challenging.

Don’t skip other areas like Tom Branch Falls, Alum Cave Bluff Trail, Ramsey Cascades and many others.