Waterfalls - A Magical Destination
The Cherokee Indians called the Great Smoky Mountains "Shaconage", or Land of the Blue Smoke. That "smoke" is a misty veil of water vapor that from a distance seems to turn the mountains blue. Over 85 inches of rain fall annually on the peaks of the Great Smoky Mountains. Part of the rain evaporates into the air, part is absorbed by plants, and the rest gathers into streams and flows down the mountainsides.
Over 2,100 miles of streams rush down over various types of rock. Where softer rock erodes more quickly than harder rock, the streambed drops, creating a rocky ledge. When the stream rushes down over a series of rocks and ledges, a cascade takes shape. When the stream free-falls vertically over a cliff, a waterfall in the traditional sense is formed.
Make a hike to a waterfall part of your Smoky Mountain vacation, and it’ll be an experience everyone in the family will remember! You’ll be hiking to a magical destination that will stimulate all your senses. First, there is that sense of discovery when you turn that corner and see the amazing white beauty of falling water. Then there is the overwhelming noise of rushing water that drowns out every other sound, including your own voice. The air is filled with a fine mist that cools your skin, smells clean, and tastes fresh. A word of caution, though: Don’t climb onto the rocks that are below, above, or beside a waterfall; those rocks are slippery and dangerous.
Hikes to the local waterfalls can be easy, moderate, or strenuous, and the round trip can range from short to long. Ask a park ranger to recommend a trail that would suit your family. Pick up a brochure about waterfall hikes, or purchase the guidebook, “Waterfalls of the Smokies,” which describes 40 eye-catching waterfalls and is published by the Great Smoky Mountains Association.
Here are seven popular waterfalls that are relatively easy to get to:
(F = Falls, C = Cascades)