Hiking the Smokies – Hen Wallow Falls

The hike to Hen Wallow Falls is moderate but very rewarding at the end. The falls descend 90 feet to a pool below.

Just a short trip east along Interstate 40 is Cosby, TN, where you’ll find the hike to Hen Wallow Falls. It’s a short day trip from Sevierville that takes about a hour to reach the trailhead which is found just past the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the Cosby side. From there it’s a 4.4 mile roundtrip to the the falls but totally worth it if you’re a fan of the Smokies and its natural beauty.

The trail itself can be steep and rugged to start out with but you’ll eventually pass through a growth of hemlock and rhododendron. Rock Creek will eventually come up on your right, and you’ll pass signage for a trail that leads to the Cosby Campground before crossing over Rock Creek.

Continuing on from the trailhead about a mile you’ll reach Messer Gap. Expect you see various other offshoots along the trail but keep on as you’ll eventually come to what was an old rock wall on the left of the trail. Most likely this was at one time a homestead.

A signed side trail at 2.1 miles leads to the base of the 90-foot Hen Wallow Falls by way of steep switchbacks. Hen Wallow Creek, which was only two feet wide at the top of the falls, dramatically transforms into a 20 foot falls at the base. In all, Hen Wallow Falls descends 90 feet from its small creek beginnings.

*Just a note, for some great winter photographs visit the Hen Wallow Falls in January when it freezes into an icy cascade.

Access Trail: Gabes Mountain

Trailhead: Park at the Cosby Picnic Area – near the entrance to Cosby Campground. From there, walk back along the road to the Gabes Mountain Trail.

Etc.: The hike is generally considered moderate in difficulty. It takes about 3-4 hours to hike to the waterfall and back. Hikers continuing on the Gabes Mountain Trail beyond the falls can enjoy an old-growth forest. Pets and bicycles are prohibited on the trail. Hikers are also prohibited from climbing on the rocks around the waterfall. Over the years, several people have died from falling off the rocks and numerous others have suffered serious injuries from climbing on the rocks near the waterfall. Due to mist and algae, the rocks aligning Hen Wallow Falls are extremely slippery. Children should be supervised closely at all times.

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