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Ramsay Cascades

Skill:

Novice to Intermediate 

Water:

Plenty in the creek. 

Pros:

Never ending creek scenes and waterfalls

Cons:

Steep, rocky and "rooty"

Notes:

The drive to the trail-head is on a narrow road with dangerous, unguarded and precipitous drop-offs.

Creek Hikes

There are many beautiful creek hikes in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. While it is difficult to say which is THE most beautiful creek hike, the hike to the Ramsey Cascades must rank in the top ten. Close to Gatlinburg, TN., a mere 15 minute drive, this hike is easily accessible from one of the most visited towns in the Smokies. The countless waterfalls that line the trail make this a wonderful  hike to "walk off" a huge meal! Big Creek, Eagle Creek, Hazel Creek and Deep Creek are a few of the more well known creek hikes. Ramsay Cascades is not as well known but ranks in my top 10 creek hikes of the Smokies. This one is great for a day hike and  no horses are allowed. The absence of horse traffic means a better quality of trail and fewer insects.

Greenbrier

After leaving Rt. 321, the access road to the Greenbrier section of the park turns into a rutted dirt road. The road winds along the Little Pigeon River on a sometimes precipitous cliff. At times you are far above the bed of the river on a road with no protection from going over the edge. The ride to the trail-head is a beautiful preview of what is to come! At 3.2 miles turn  left at the Ramsay Cascades sign and cross a double bridge. Here you follow the Middle Prong of the Pigeon River. After a short drive of one and a half miles through the dense rhododendron, the trail-head comes into view.

Endless Creek Views

After leaving the parking lot, the trail immediately crosses the first bridge. A view of a very powerful fall to the right booms its' welcome to the trail. This is a great way to start the hike! The trail follows an old remnant of a road  twisting past great views of waterfalls and pools. A gravel surface and a gradual climb are what makes this section of the trail more suitable for hikers in the novice category of ability. There are many short side trails that lead to private beaches of water carved stone.  The volume of water that moves through this creek is great and there are many "high volume" water-falls. After many runs of rapids are cool clear pools of water. The lower part of the trail, that is the first mile and a half, has the most hikers on the creek side trails. Can't blame them, where else would anyone want to be on a hot summer's day!

Traffic Circle

This old road ends at a small traffic circle. To the left you will see a sign pointing the way to the Ramsay Cascades trail. This is the end of the novice portion of the trail. From here the next 2.5 miles of trail to the Cascades is for hikers with a good level of physical conditioning.

Greenbrier Pinnacle

The faint side trail to the left of the traffic circle is no longer maintained by the Park Service. It climbs steeply for approximately 2 miles to the top of the Greenbrier Pinnacle. This trail, hard to follow at times, leads to the site of an old fire tower. The tower has since been removed, however, the concrete foundation remains. There are no views here in the summer, but the winter provides for unobstructed viewing. Several years ago peregrine falcons were released here. This endeavor has proven to be successful. So if you are lucky, you may catch a glimpse of the soaring birds of prey.

Hike to the falls

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