Looking for a fun hike to a cool waterfall destination this winter? Consider one of the better-kept secrets in the Smokies—Spruce Flats Falls. One of the best things about this hike is that you don’t have to venture terribly far into the national park to find it, which makes it convenient to most of our cabins in Wears Valley.
You can go through either the Wears Valley or Townsend entrances to the national park. Once you’re in the park, head west toward the Great Smokies Institute at Tremont. Park in the lot and start up the gravel road, following the signs toward the falls. You’ll make a couple of turns along the way at various signposts, but as long as you follow the arrows toward the falls, you’ll be OK.
This trail, which is about a mile from start to finish, isn’t marked on most maps, but the path is unmistakable. The first two-thirds is moderately uphill, and once you crest the ridge, you’ll have a slightly steeper downhill trek as you near the falls. The falls themselves are 40 to 50 feet in height and cascade down multiple tiers of hillside before collecting in a pool at the bottom. You can approach as far as the pool itself at the bottom of the falls.
This is a moderately strenuous hike with some fairly steep uphill and downhill sections and sharp trail drop-offs. But most folks shouldn’t have trouble with it, and if you bring a camera, you’ll get some great pictures in the process. There are even some decent mountain views along the way. Happy hiking!