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Cataract Falls

A quick family-friendly waterfall hike behind the Sugarlands Visitor Center.

Hiking Moderate

471 m
2 m
2 m
0-1 hrs
Low Point
433 m
High Point
435 m
Cataract Falls Map

Of all the waterfall hikes within the Smokies, Cataract Falls may be one of the best options for the entire family. Though just 15 minutes from the trailhead, it includes an array of beautiful and interesting trees, and the 25' waterfall is particularly serene for being so close to the parking lot.


There are restrooms, vending machines, and drinking water available at the trailhead, plus the Sugarlands Visitor Center is less than a half a mile away. If you're looking for a short walk to stretch out the legs after a long day of driving, this is the perfect option.

One downfall of this hike is that if you're seeking solitude, it may not be the best hike for you. You're never too far from the road, and the large parking lot offers easy access for all abilities of hikers. The trail is relatively flat, with the exception of a few stairs near the end. The tread is mostly crushed gravel with boardwalks over the wetter areas.

As with most hikes within the Smokies, dogs are not allowed on this hike. Children, however, will absolutely love this quick walk thanks to a unique tree that they can almost step inside of!

Source: https://www.smokiesadventure.com/smokymountains/explorations/cataract-falls.htm



Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.


2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

all year round


  • Wildlife
  • Picturesque
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Family friendly
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area