The Sinks and Meigs Creek Cascade Trail

Anna and her boys tell of their last experience on Meigs Creek Cascade Trail.

The Sinks and Meigs Creek Cascade Trail

Meigs Creek Trail is a 6-mile-long trail through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee, USA. We never got to the end of this trail, the two times we did it we always stopped at Meigs Creek Cascade and then returned to the Sinks trailhead where the parking lot is.

The Sinks 

The parking lot for this trail seems to always be overflowing with visitors. Many come only to see this spot in the Little River called the Sinks. When we went there last time, we waited for someone to leave, and we didn't wait for too long. Other times too many people were waiting in front of us, so we took it as a sign that we must go somewhere else. Plenty of trails are awaiting to be explored further away in the park.

Another perspective of the picturesque Sinks. 

The Sinks waterfall was created by a dynamite blast set up back in the day (sometime before 1925) by loggers who used the Little River as access for their logs. At this particular spot, a-S-turn in the river would cause the logs to jam the river.

A bit further away from the currents created by the water falling, in the summer, adventurous swimmers have fun jumping from the tall rocks into the natural pools of crystal waters. Going close to the waterfall is strongly cautioned against, people have lost their lives there because of the strong undertow and currents.

Access to the Meigs Creek Trail from the Sinks. 

From the Sinks, a flight of stone stairs leads to Meigs Creek Trail, which continues in the forest behind the Little River.

We liked this trail a lot from the beginning. At first, it isn't much different from other paths we have explored. It winds up a slope, making you believe that at some point you will get on the top of some tall hill, where you can see the view of the mountains in the distance.  But once you get up on the slope, the path takes you back down to the foot of the slope on the other side of the hill.

Hiking is more fun with cousins.

This is where the path becomes interesting, as we had to cross Meigs Creek many times on the path to the cascade. Stones and logs are natural bridges over the creek, every time a different set-up makes it so much fun.

Stone stepping over Meigs Creek

By the time we get to Meigs Creek Cascade, we had our share of stone stepping. For us, getting to the Cascade is the goal of this hike. We never went all the way to the end because by this spot we feel we filled our reserves to the brim and overflowing with beauty and fun for the day. Furthermore, we can't wait to go back and do all the stone stepping crossings of the creek again. One day, we promised ourselves to go to the end of the trail, and I hope we will not be disappointed with what we will find there.

Getting to Meigs Creek Cascade. 

Mihai, 15

I see a rotting tree on the side of the path leading to the Meigs Creek Cascade, ready to fall on some unfortunate hiker's head. A stream crosses the path and trickles off into the unknown. The small waterfall rushes down the rocks and crashes into a pool below, making a loud splashing noise. The soft rotten wood of a fallen tree comes apart as I test its sturdiness.

This is my experience of the Meigs Creek Trail, a trail that takes you from the Sinks lookout, up a large, steep hill, down into another valley, and across some streams, all the way to Meigs Creek Cascade.

Up the hill

The first part of the trail consists of a rather steep slope. After doing that, we descended to a flat, tree-covered area and crossed a stream. We posed for a photo at the first stream, and then pressed on.

The boys. 

A while later, we made it to the waterfall, where we had to jump over a log and then go to the base. There, one of our cousins, Josh, fell into the water and got soaked. We continued hiking, and crossed some more streams, until I fell into the water and we turned back.

The kiddos.

My favorite thing to do on this trail was crossing the streams on the path. This was interesting because I had to jump on rocks in the stream bed. I would go again to see the waterfall when it is overflowing.

Paul, 12

I run across a narrow trail leading up a hill. In the distance, I can hear the roaring of the Sinks falls, just ahead of me are two of my cousins.  I can hear the crunching of footsteps as someone approaches. My other cousin, a girl of about ten years of age, passes me and disappears around a bend in the trail. The pine needles beneath my feet spray as I try to catch up.

The hikers. 

I liked the hike before we got to the waterfall.  Almost every two minutes, we had to cross a stream. Each new stream was almost like a parkour challenge that if you failed, you would have to deal with a soaked leg.

Crossing over the log.

I would go again there if I could go with my cousins, so I can spend time with them.

Anna, the mom, on the purpose of a hike:

Getting somewhere in our hikes, to a nice view or a waterfall, is the immediate goal of a hike.

The true purpose, though, is seeing what God made and breaking free from man made things. His works “speak” to us about Him, our Creator, and motivates us to draw near to Him as He draws near to us.

More and more what's happening in the world is so distressing. We find peace and joy in the quiet of a hike, be it out in the woods somewhere or in the nature around our house.

We recharge and go back to the world, trusting that our Father Who created such an incredible nature will give us the strength to be calm and carry on with compassion and faith until He comes back to make everything right.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some answers to some of the most asked questions about hiking the Meigs Creek Trail.

How long is Meigs Falls hike?

Meigs Falls hike is a great outdoor activity that the whole family can enjoy. It takes about 2–3 hours to complete, and it's a 3-mile round trip trail. The time really depends on how fast you are moving and how many times you decide to stop along the way. You will need to cross a few streams, but it's totally worth it!

Can you swim in Meigs Falls?

Meigs Falls is a beautiful waterfall located in Tennessee and while it is an amazing sight to behold, unfortunately you can't swim in the water.

The water level is quite shallow and not suitable for swimming.

However, if you are looking to take a dip then you can head to the nearby Sinks and take advantage of the deeper waters there.

While it may be tempting, visitors need to be very cautious when swimming at the Sinks as the currents can be quite strong. It's best to go with someone who knows how to swim well or with a lifeguard present.

Is swimming allowed in Great Smoky Mountains National Park?

Swimming is allowed in some areas of the park, but it's not recommended by the park administration.

If you decide to hit the water, here are a few safety tips to bear in mind.

Wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when boating or paddling, pay attention to the weather and water conditions,  and make sure you know how to swim and stay afloat.

Check the water depth before taking the plunge and never dive in, it might be too shallow.

Be aware of your surroundings and the location of other people in the water, and avoid getting in if you've been drinking or taking drugs.

Also, don't use flotation devices like inner tubes, rafts, and air mattresses, and follow the safety signs. If you keep these tips in mind, you'll have a safe and fun time in the park.

What are The Sinks?

The Sinks is a pretty cool spot in the Smoky Mountains National Park. It's 12 miles west of the Sugarlands Visitor Center and was formed by a mountain river creating natural pools surrounded by big boulders. Loggers used dynamite to shape it.

When you get there, you'll find crystal-clear water, natural pools, and a waterfall. It's a great place to check out nature. But watch out - swimming here has resulted in a bunch of drownings and injuries, so it's better to stick to the calmer and shallower Greenbrier section of the park.