Spruce Flats Falls Trail
ElevationAscent: 333' 102 m
Descent: -151' -46 m
High: 1,672' 510 m
Low: 1,349' 411 m
GradeAvg Grade: 10% (6°)
Max Grade: 25% (14°)
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“A one-mile trail from the Tremont Institute to the base of Spruce Flats Falls.”— David Hitchcock
Departing the parking lot, follow the gravel trail up a service road to one of the dormitories, and follow the signs to the left. The trail narrows and becomes a dirt track that immediately climbs up behind the dorm. The trail goes to the right and runs along the hill above the dorm. It is eroded in several places, so watch your step. The trail comes to a fork, where going straight leads back to the road and going to the left will lead to the falls. The trail is rock and root strewn as it climbs above a water tank before it comes to a scenic overlook that lies along the Little Greenbriar Fault Line.
The trail continues to climb, although less steeply at times. The trail crosses a rocky section where Small Branch crosses the trail, which could be muddy. Certain areas of the trail let you see obstructed views of the Middle Prong of the Little River. Continuing to climb, the trail comes to Bull Branch, which crosses the trail through a rock field. Around .65 miles, the trail reaches its high point and begins to descend toward the falls.
The trail can be steep in places, with rocks and roots throughout. The trail cuts to the right and comes to a set of log steps that descends through an area of the trail that is badly eroded. After a short distance, the trail comes around a bend, and you get your first view of the falls through the trees, especially in the fall and winter. The trail descends to an area below the falls, where there are a few rocks to sit on and enjoy the views. You can see the road if you look back to the right. You can scramble over a couple of rocks up to the pool below the falls to get a better view of the falls. You can also rock hop over to the other side for better views of the falls. You might be alone as you enjoy the view, or have a couple of fellow runners to share it with, but once you have enjoyed the views, or dipped your feet in the water, you can return to your car via the trail you followed to the falls.
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Land Manager: NPS - Great Smoky Mountains National Park