Spruce Flats Falls Trail

Anna and her sons write of their experience of the Spruce Flats Falls Trail.

Spruce Flats Falls Trail

Spruce Flats Falls trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee, USA, is a trail that leads to a beautiful waterfall. It is one of our favorite trails that is open all year around. The trail head is not very far into the National Park, and steers away from the floods of tourists inching towards Gatlinburg at all times lately.

The falls in the fall :)

The hike to the waterfall can be a little tricky in the wetter seasons—in the spring and in the winter— when the trail becomes muddy and the roots of the trees very slippery in some parts. Nevertheless, at these times the waterfall is the most beautiful. I guess there is a price one has to pay for beauty, but it is worth it.

The boys love to dip their feet in the cold stream. By the middle of May, the water is fun to explore and enjoy.

By the middle of May, the mountain laurels are in full bloom, making the hike more enjoyable. Furthermore, by this time of the year, our kids love to explore the stream, cross it in 10 different ways, find new rocks to stand or sit on.

Mountain laurels. 

Once, a butterfly landed on my shoe there- I remember it because its colors were a perfect match to my shoelaces. It was so pretty, I could not take my eyes from it for a long time, until we had to go and sensing the movement of my foot, departing from the place I rested for a while, it flew away.

My butterfly friend.

Mihai, 15

The thick ice on top of the pools of water glistens in the sun. The rocks are especially slippery, now that some of them are covered in ice. The spiky-needled pine trees are swaying in a surprisingly warm wind for winter. The waterfall rushes endlessly and loudly down the rocks, all year round.

New attractions at Spruce Flats Falls after a freezing spell.

This is Spruce Flats Falls, a short trail in the Smoky Mountains, Tennessee, that leads to Spruce Flats waterfall. When we went there last time, the river was covered in ice. A cold spell visited our side of the Smoky Mountains, with temperatures as low as -16 degrees Celsius. This is why the river was frozen over, even though when we went there, the temperatures were above 10 degrees Celsius.

The hike was interesting, and from the heights you can see the river in the valley below. I noticed that the river was covered in ice in some parts, but in others, it was not. Then, I noticed that the ice was melting only in the parts which were exposed to the sunlight, and the parts in the shade still had ice on them.

The river by the welcome center at the head of the trail.

Soon, we made it to the waterfall. There, I tried breaking some ice, and I came up with a gigantic, thick block of the stuff. Next, my brother and I decided to go right next to the waterfall, which wasn't such a great idea because we got splashed.

New-found passion—breaking the ice :)

On the other side of the stream, I found a large tree branch, so I had an idea. We used the branch like a spear and tried to break some more ice with it, but as the frozen water was too thick, we decided to leave off the ice demolishing.

Paul, 12

I walk up the steep mountain slope as I trek towards the Spruce Flat Falls. I start slipping on a patch of ice, but manage to keep my balance. A sun worthy of summer shines upon the frozen top of the small lake created by the downpour of the Falls. The icy slopes of the falls cling to the receding winter as heat begins its slow melting. The quiet of the cove is solemn, but too soon it will be loud once more from the falling waters.

What does ice from these parts taste like?

This is what Spruce Flats Falls felt like to me last time when we went there.

In the summer, you could take off your shoes and walk around on the rocks under the stream. In the colder seasons, it is not a good idea to take a dip in the stream because you would get hypothermia, and that is not a pleasant experience.

Sounding the ice.

I loved walking around on the icy sides of the lake. Whenever I reached a thin piece of ice, it would emit a sound similar to that of a pained groan, which I would produce if I were to slide into the water right at that moment.

Flowering dogwood, can be found in the spring there.