in the creek.
ending creek scenes and waterfalls
rocky and "rooty"
drive to the trail-head is on a narrow road with dangerous,
unguarded and precipitous drop-offs.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.