Spruce Flats falls is a 30 foot fan style cascade waterfall along the Spruce Flats Branch.
While not the biggest waterfall it is considered by many to be the most photogenic. The branch continues on down just a short way where it merges with Middle Prong of the Little River. The trail to Spruce Flats falls is not listed on the official park map but is still a popular hike and can get crowded at times. The trail is short but is quite steep and rugged in spots so be prepared for a little bit of a scramble, especially near the falls. While technically rated as easy we would push this one more to the upper end of easy borderline moderate because of the rugged nature of it. We rate this falls as one of the top 3 in the park due to its photogenic apeal. We recommend visiting in the fall.
The TrailHead is located at the Start of the Lumber Ridge Trail. From Townsend proceed into the park. At the Y turn Right onto Laurel Creek Road. At 2/10th of a mile turn left and drive another 2 miles to the Tremont Institute and turn left and cross the bridge. There is parking just across the bridge. The trail is just up the graveled road behind the institute
The trail is a little difficult to find. From the parking lot you must walk up the gravel partial paved road to the Dormitory building. The path will vear left right at the building. You will soon see the sign for Lumber Ridge. Turn right at this junction to stay on the Buckeye Trail. At just 2/10th past this you arrive at another junction. Here you turn left and proceed up the hill. Just a little ways past this junction you will arrive at a real nice look out which is the only real view on the trail.
At just under ½ a mile the trail will plateau at its highest point. A little bit of flat walking soon because a rugged down hill grade as you make your way down to the falls. You will also arrive at a small footbridge that goes over practically nothing. It is a little challenge to go down this bridge especially when it is wet. We mostly prefer to just take the path on the left.
At about 7/10th of a mile you make the last steep down decent to the base of the falls. Once at the falls you can choose to do a little rock scramble to get a closer look or to take pictures. Be Careful in this area as injuries have occured. The base of the falls has a wonderful pool you can cool off in summer months. In fall this pool will sometimes fill with leaves and create a nice swirl effect for photographers.
Entrance to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park remains free to the public. But, as of March 1st, 2023 parking passes are required for stops longer than 15 minutes inside the park. Please follow the link below for all the latest information from the National Park Service on where to purchase parking passes, and pricing.