Ramsey Cascades Trail

Discover Ramsey Cascades Trail | Home to the Smoky Mountains’ Towering Waterfall

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If you’re an avid hiker and love exploring the great outdoors, then the Ramsey Cascades Trail should be on your bucket list. Located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Ramsey Cascades Trail is one of the most popular hiking trails in the area. This trail offers stunning views of waterfalls, old-growth forests, and a variety of wildlife. However, before you hit the trail, there are some essential tips and tricks to consider. In this ultimate guide to hiking Ramsey Cascades Trail, we’ll cover everything from trailhead information to packing lists and hiking safety tips.

Ramsey Cascades Trail is a popular but challenging hiking trail located in the Greenbrier area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The trail is named after the 100-foot-high Ramsey Cascades waterfall, which is the main attraction of the hike. The trail follows a stream, and hikers will pass through old-growth forests and over rocky terrain. The hike is considered strenuous, with a total elevation gain of 2,200 feet, and can take up to 6-8 hours to complete.

About Ramsey Cascades Trail

The trailhead is located at the Greenbrier entrance, and it takes approximately 4-6 hours to complete the 8-mile round trip. The trail boasts a gradual ascent to the top of Mount Guyot, which stands at an elevation of 6,621 feet. Along the way, hikers can enjoy stunning views of Ramsey Cascades, a 100-foot waterfall that cascades over rocky boulders, creating a beautiful natural spectacle.

Trailhead Information

To access Ramsey Cascades Trail, hikers must enter through the Greenbrier entrance, located off Highway 321. The trailhead is approximately 5 miles from the entrance, and parking is available at the designated lot. However, it’s important to note that the parking lot tends to fill up quickly, especially during peak season. Therefore, it’s advisable to arrive early to secure a spot. Additionally, there are no restroom facilities at the trailhead, so hikers should plan accordingly.

Ramsey Cascades Hike

Best Time to Hike Ramsey Cascades Trail

Ramsey Cascades Trail is open year-round, but the best time to hike is from March to November when the weather is mild and the trail is less crowded. During the winter months, the trail is closed due to icy and snowy conditions. It’s also important to check the weather forecast before heading out, as the trail can become treacherous during heavy rainfall or thunderstorms.

Difficulty Level and Trail Conditions

Ramsey Cascades Trail is rated as a strenuous hike, with a total elevation gain of 2,200 feet. The trail is rocky and uneven, and hikers should expect to encounter several stream crossings. Additionally, the trail can become muddy and slippery, especially after rainfall. Hikers should wear sturdy hiking boots with good traction and be prepared for challenging terrain.

Ramsey cascades trail

Essential Hiking Gear and Packing List

When hiking Ramsey Cascades Trail, it’s important to pack essential hiking gear to ensure a safe and comfortable journey. Some of the items you should consider packing include:

  • Sturdy hiking boots with good traction
  • Backpack with a hydration system or water bottles
  • High-energy snacks and meals
  • First aid kit
  • Map and compass or GPS device
  • Sunscreen and insect repellent
  • Rain gear and extra clothing layers
  • Headlamp or flashlight with extra batteries

Water and Food Supply

Hikers should carry at least 2 liters of water per person, as there are no water sources along the trail. Additionally, it’s important to pack high-energy snacks and meals to fuel your body throughout the hike. It’s also advisable to bring a water filter or purification tablets in case of emergency. While there are no food options available on the trail, hikers can stop at one of the many picnic areas at the trailhead before or after the hike.

Hiking Safety Tips for Ramsey Cascades Trail

Hiking Ramsey Cascades Trail requires proper planning and preparation to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Here are some essential hiking safety tips you need to know:

  • Familiarize yourself with the trail map and terrain before setting out.
  • Make sure to check the weather and trail conditions beforehand so you can prepare accordingly for your hike.
  • Before your hike, be sure to share your itinerary and expected return time with someone in case of emergencies.
  • To ensure your safety, always carry a first aid kit and know how to properly use it.
  • Stay on the designated trail and do not attempt to climb the waterfall or any other off-trail areas.
  • Watch out for slippery rocks, uneven terrain, and stream crossings.
  • Stay hydrated and nourished throughout the hike.
  • Having a whistle or signaling device on hand can be a lifesaver in emergencies while hiking.
  • Don’t disturb wildlife, keep a safe distance. 
  • Protect nature, follow Leave No Trace principles and carry out all waste.

Leave No Trace Principles

As responsible hikers, it’s important to follow Leave No Trace principles to minimize our impact on the natural environment. Here are some essential Leave No Trace principles to keep in mind:

  • Remember to pack out all trash and dispose of it responsibly.
  • Avoid damaging vegetation and wildlife habitats.
  • Camp only in designated areas and follow all camping regulations.
  • Respect wildlife and maintain a safe distance.
  • Avoid making loud noises or disturbing other hikers.
  • Use existing trails, don’t forge new ones.

Hiking with Pets on Ramsey Cascades Trail

Pets are allowed on Ramsey Cascades Trail, but they must be kept on a leash at all times. It’s also important to bring plenty of water and food for your pet, as there are no water sources along the trail. Additionally, be aware of wildlife and potential hazards, such as rocky terrain and stream crossings.

Photography Tips for Ramsey Cascades Trail

Ramsey Cascades Trail offers breathtaking views and photo opportunities, but it’s important to follow some photography tips to ensure your safety and the safety of others. Here are some essential photography tips to keep in mind:

  • Be aware of your surroundings and potential hazards while taking photos.
  • Do not attempt to climb the waterfall or any other off-trail areas for a photo.
  • Avoid disturbing wildlife or their habitats while taking photos.
  • Respect other hikers’ privacy and do not take photos of them without their permission.
  • Be mindful of lighting conditions and adjust your camera settings accordingly.
Ramsey Cascades Hike | Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Alternative Trails and Activities

If Ramsey Cascades Trail is too challenging or crowded, there are several alternative trails and activities to explore in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Some popular options include:


Hiking Ramsey Cascades Trail promises an unforgettable experience for avid hikers and nature enthusiasts. However, it’s important to plan and prepare properly to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey. By following the essential tips and tricks outlined in this ultimate guide, you can embark on a memorable adventure while minimizing your impact on the environment.

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