This moderately challenging hike is 4.5 miles round trip, climbing steadily to the falls before heading back down. The falls themselves are spectacular, as are the numerous, mossy creek crossings and the old-growth forest. While Hen Wallow Falls
may be a little lesser-known than other waterfalls in the park, they're stunning year-round and totally worth the trek!
Gabes Mountain Trail
begins from Gabes Mountain Trail
. From the park entrance outside of Cosby, it's 2.0 miles along Cosby Entrance Road to reach the Cosby Picnic Area where there's parking for hikers. From the parking, head to the trailhead (which is on the opposite side of the road from the parking lot) and begin up Gabes Mountain Trail
The trail switchbacks steadily up the mountainside, ascending at a fairly consistent rate—you'll gain over 800ft climbing to the falls. It's well-marked, easy to follow, and other than a couple of social trails branching off occasionally, there aren't any major trail intersections prior to the waterfall access trail.
At just over 2.0 miles, you'll reach the signed junction with the Hen Wallow Falls Connector
. Descend this short, steep spur trail to the foot of the falls. Enjoy the cascade (but only from the bottom—do NOT climb the rock face as it is slippery and could result in a dangerous fall!!), look for salamanders in the pool at the base, and, when you've had your fill, clamber back up the spur trail to Gabes Mountain Trail
and proceed back down to the trailhead.
Footing along this trail can be tricky at times as there are loose rocks, abundant roots, and multiple narrow bridges that can get slippery when wet. Accessible year-round, the falls are flowing most spectacularly after rainfall and they can form beautiful ice formations in the winter—but watch your footing when the trail is wet or icy!
The typical, lush, Great Smoky Mountains fare - rhododendron, ferns, eastern hemlocks, and yellow poplars. The rhododendrons bloom spectacularly around mid-summer. Salamanders are common in the creeks, and bears do frequent the area.