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How to chase waterfalls in the Great Smoky Mountains

There are dozens of waterfalls and cascades throughout the park. Some hikes are easier than others, but the destinations are well worth the effort.

SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. — Whether you're looking to beat the heat with some so-called "hillbilly air conditioning" or just want a hike with a gorgeous view, look no further than the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 

There are dozens of waterfalls and cascades throughout the park. Some hikes are easier than others, but the destinations are well worth the effort.

Popular waterfall hikes

Abrams Falls: 5 miles round trip, accessible from Cades Cove, moderate difficulty 

Grotto Falls: 2.6 miles round trip, popular for wildflower viewing in the spring, moderate difficulty

Laurel Falls: 2.6 miles round trip, the trail was built to give fire crews access to Cove Mountain in case of a forest fire, moderate difficulty

Rainbow Falls: 5.4 miles round trip, continue for 6.7 miles more to the summit of Mount LeConte, moderate difficulty

Ramsey Cascades: 8 miles roundtrip, accessible from Greenbrier area, the tallest waterfall in the park, strenuous difficulty 

RELATED: 'Water' you waiting for? Take a dip in East Tennessee this summer

Lesser-known waterfall hikes

Hen Wallow Falls: about 4.4 miles round trip, accessible from Gabes Mountain Trail near Cosby, moderate difficulty

Indian Flat Falls: about 7.8 miles round trip, accessible from Middle Prong Trail near Townsend, moderate difficulty

Spruce Flat Falls: about 1.5 miles round trip, accessible on Middle Prong Trail in Tremont area, easy difficulty

Waterfalls you can drive to

Meigs Falls: near Townsend on the Little River Road

Place of a Thousand Drips: stop No. 15 on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

The Sinks: near Townsend along the Little River Road

For more information on waterfalls and other hikes, visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park website.