Sunday, November 08, 2015

Abrams Falls Hiking Trail is Stop 10, Cades Cove Loop Road

The Abrams Falls Hiking Trail is stop Number 10 on the Cades Cove Loop Road. The gravel road turnoff is on your right, just under five miles into the loop. Look for a small sign on the right hand side of the loop road that marks the road to the trailhead. The large, partially shaded parking lot is about .25 mile ahead after you exit from the loop road.

A big reason that folks grab their hiking gear and hit this trail is to see Abrams Falls. This waterfall better known for its mass of rushing water than for it's 20' height. Currents are so powerful at the foot of the falls that swimming is discouraged.

The hike is five miles round trip and easily takes an afternoon. The National Park Service says the hike has a difficulty rating of "moderate".  Hikers may want to bring trek poles and other gear. The trail is rocky and hiking boots are recommended. It is also important to carry water and follow other recommendations from the NPS as you would for any other hike in the Smoky Mountains National Park.

bridge over a creek
Pay particular attention to the information about bear safety when you visit the park website. I was turned away the first time that I visited the Abrams Falls Hiking Trail because of my service dog.

 It is true that service dogs are allowed to go many of the places that humans are allowed. The problem here isn't that the park rangers are being mean. The problem is that dogs view bears as a nuisance from which they must protect their owners. For their part, the bears view Fido as a potential food source.

Because of the no dog restriction and my leg brace, I haven't hiked this the trail in years.  My estimate is that the trail gets rocky at about .5 miles in. around .5 miles. That's about as far as I can go without Tomlin and a good walking stick.

A picturesque bridge near the start of the Abrams Falls Hiking Trail trailhead is wide, wooden and easy to walk on.  As you can see from the photo,  the bridge is a good spot to pause and enjoy being in Cases Cove.

Cades Cove Loop Road goes in one direction only. As this map shows, you'll need to complete the auto tour to exit the park after your time at the trailhead is completed. To do this, go back down the dirt road driveway and turn right onto the Cades Cove Loop Road.

Your next stop will be at the Cable Mill Area Visitors Center. This houses restrooms, a gift shop  and has several historic buildings to explore. You can stamp your passport book here and talk with friendly rangers who can answer any questions you might have about the Cades Cove area.