Thursday, May 3, 2012

Water, Water Everywhere

When thinking about the Smoky Mountains, one word comes to mind--WATER!  There is hardly a place in this half million acre park that you can’t hear water either running in a stream, down a waterfall, or dripping off a rock or foliage.

It’s wet here. Often when we’re hiking we start out in or climb above the fog and clouds.  Humidity is high and it’s more likely to rain than not.  At the lower elevations the rainfall averages something like 50 inches each year and more like 90 inches on the peaks.  I read somewhere that that is more rain than anywhere else in the country except the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.

All that dampness encourages the growth of mosses and ferns which cover rocks, fallen logs and tree trunks.  It also creates a breathtaking landscape; one in which I never tire of seeing.

One of the major attractions of the park is the waterfalls.  There are about 12 falls that are easy to get too, some are even accessible by car.  Rainbow Falls and Ramsey Cascades require a pretty tough hike, but are so worth the effort.

Mingo Falls

Mingo Falls, the upper section
Today, we went over to Mingo Falls.  The falls is not actually in the National Park, but nearby on Cherokee Indian Reservation.  At 180’ it is the tallest falls in the area.

There is a very short two-tenth of a mile trail to the base of the falls.  The trail is not difficult.  It’s mostly steps until you get almost to the top, but they are steep.  At the falls there is a wide footbridge which spans the creek below the falls which makes for easy viewing.

Not having been there before, we went this morning.  It probably would be better to see this falls in the afternoon when the sun is in a different position.  About 10:30 the morning sun was casting its intense light right on the top of the falls.  You can certainly see that in the pictures.

Besides these major waterfalls, there are many unnamed falls around the park.  We’ve encountered several as we’ve hiked the trails during the past few weeks.

Ramsey Cascade
I love the water in the Smokies, whether its in a waterfall, a creek, a river, or just bubbling out the side of the mountain.  Here are a few photos taken at various seasons and on various trails around the park.

That’ll do it for today.  Thanks for tagging along.


  1. Thanks for the nice pics-we did do a vac. there years back- should be down that way this fall. Wendy has been practicing w/ camera.

  2. Oh, the soothing sound of water. I'm working for Aramark right now, and they have a location in Shenandoah, I'm thinking I may head that way next year.

  3. While we are not hikers, I have certainly enjoyed reading your blog about the Great Smoky Mountains. We were only there once and our car touring was pretty limited. Lots of ideas for a future trip. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Awesome pics of the waterfalls - the Mingo Falls were beautiful to see.