It is lovely to wake up on a Saturday and realize that you have absolutely nothing that must be done and nowhere to go. Naturally, we had to go hiking. We wanted some water to play in on this hike, so we chose Abrams Falls.
We usually try to avoid popular tourist spots on Saturdays in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but you have to go through Cades Cove to get to Abrams Falls. To get there, you drive about halfway around the cove, and there will be a dirt road on the right that leads right to the Abrams Falls parking lot. (There is a rustic bathroom there if you need one.)
Strangely, the Cove wasn't bumper-to-bumper traffic, and we only hit one short traffic jam. The parking lot at Abrams Falls was packed, though, and the trail was busy. It's a nice 5-mile hike roundtrip, not too strenuous but with lots of ups and downs. Much of the trail is rocky, so pay attention or you may twist an ankle or trip. Along the way there is plenty of water to play in, in case you only want to hike a short way and then do river play.
Within the first few years that we lived here, there were a couple of drownings at Abrams Falls. In particular I remember a middle-school boy on a field trip drowning there. So very tragic. There are strict warnings posted by the falls that it is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS TO SWIM at the base of the falls due to strong currents and an undertow. Nonetheless, upon arriving at the falls we had to witness at least a dozen people jumping off the falls, including a man who took his kids (10 and under) up to jump. All you can really do is shake your head and say "What is wrong with people???"
We spent a good hour or even two just wading, skipping rocks, and snacking. And, well, also watching people. The water was lovely and not too cold, and the falls, while not one of the more majestic falls in the Smokies, is just so pretty.
The hike took us an hour each way at a moderate pace. Actually, I'm pretty sure Randy would say it was a leisurely hike, but for me, it was a moderate pace. We will definitely be going back; this is a great hike for families with slightly older kids who can hike 5 miles.
Just please: don't jump off the waterfall.