Friday, July 24, 2009

Ramsey Cascades Trail

On Sunday we hiked out Ramsey Cascades Trail in the Smokies. A really interesting trail, lots to see along the way. It is a 4-mile hike to reach the falls with an elevation gain of about 2,200 feet. The most strenuous section is within the last 1/2 mile of the falls.... due to combination of steady incline and tiredness of legs :-) But definitely worth the effort - the falls are spectacular!

The trail starts as an old gravel roadbed. After 1.5 miles, you reach a turn-around loop.... the unnamed footpath branching off left of the loop heads up toward Greenbrier Pinnacle. The falls trail continues on at the back of the loop.

The first log footbridge is about the halfway point. We hiked up here this winter but turned back due to snow and ice, which made the log slick as a sheet of glass.

Erosion along the trailbed.... thousands of feet and countless storms have exposed the root system.
Paying attention is high priority, one small misstep can lead to a twisted ankle or a tumble.

Beautiful bee balm was spotted along the trail in several places.
Lots of rhododendron in bloom .

Traveling onward, the trail winds by three of the biggest trees I've ever seen - pass through two huge sentries to the hall of the giant king, of record proportions!
Cross over another footbridge, just rebuilt in May and still smelling fresh of sawdust (one of my favorite aromas).

Finally after some diligent rock scrambling, the roar of the falls could be heard. As they came into view, so did a grim reminder of the dangers associated with waterfalls. A fun day of enthusiastic exploration can turn deadly in a second..... and so often we witness foolish or careless acts within view of such signs.

We were the first to reach the falls that day and were lucky to enjoy them all on our own for about 10 minutes, until the rest of the hikers started trickling in.
One girl hiked the entire 8 miles in flip-flops. Yeah.
All said, we passed roughly 35 people while on the trail, and our hike-time was 4.25 hours.


Chaska said...

Such beautiful photos!!!!

I was unable how to figure out how to e-mail you again on etsy regarding the cat faces.
Could you e-mail me, please, at and let me know when you can do them. I'd like to send you some pictures, too, which might be of help.

Jen said...

Hi Chaska, I'm contacting you directly now!
Thanks :-)

randomcrafter said...

Enjoyed reading about your hike and seeing the photos.

8 miles up a mountain in flip-flops? OY! What was she thinking???

Jess said...

I would really consider attempting Ramsey Cascades in the winter agan. While snow and ice can really add to the already strenuous trail (especially on those two bridges), the end result is absolutely worth it. The falls are half frozen and entirely breathtaking. I think it is a much more impressive and rewarding end than the summer hie.