Heading to Ramsey Cascades, the Highest Waterfall in Great Smoky Mountains? Check These 2022 Trail Closures For Ramsey, More, First

by Jon D. B.

Know before you go! Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GRSM) just announced significant closures for Ramsey Cascades waterfall trail (and more) for 2022.

Ancient Appalachian wonder Ramsey Cascades is one of the most popular destinations and trails in the Smokies. At 100-feet tall, Ramsey is the tallest waterfall in Great Smoky Mountains National Park; bringing visitors from far and wide to witness her splendor in the Greenbrier area.

All of the above, however, means Ramsey Cascades Trail is also one of the most traversed, heavily-worn trails in all of the Smokies. Which is exactly why 2022 will see significant closures to the trial for repairs via longevity project, Trails Forever.

Trails Forever Project Begins: Cosby and Ramsey Cascades Trail Closures

Ramsey Cascades (Photo courtesy of GRSM, NPS media release)

On April 4, Great Smoky Mountains National Park announced that a two-year trail rehabilitation project will begin on Ramsey Cascades Trail as part of the Trails Forever program, supported by Friends of the Smokies. As a result, significant closures are to take place throughout the 2022 busy season. They are:

  • Ramsey Cascades Trail, Ramsey Prong Road, and the Cosby area of the park will be closed to all traffic on Wednesday, April 6 and Thursday, April 7.
  • Beginning May 2 through November 17, 2022, the trail and Ramsey Prong Road will be closed Monday through Thursday, excluding federal holidays. There will not be any access to Ramsey Cascades during the weekday closures.  
  • The trail will be fully open Friday through Sunday each of these weeks.

As the main trail provides the only access to the 100-foot Ramsey Cascades, the waterfall will remain off-limits during these closures.

This is imperative, as the Trails Forever rehabilitation will improve overall trail safety and protect the park’s natural resources. All in all, the program’s work will consist of “repairing and re-grading the tread surface, improving existing drainage, adding new drainage… Covering up social trails, and removing tripping hazards such as roots and rocks,” GRSM cites in their media release. “Trail structures such as retaining walls, staircases, water bars, and turnpikes will see construction, as needed.”

To do so, builders will utilize locust logs and native stone found onsite in GRSM.

The Top-Tier Preservation Work of Trails Forever

As for Trails Forever, this partnership program was established between the Friends of the Smokies and Great Smoky Mountains National Park in order to fund a permanent, highly skilled trail crew who focus on rehabilitating high use trails.

Friends of the Smokies would first establish the endowment in 2012. Today, it is worth more than $6 million and supports the program. The generosity of the Knoxville based Aslan Foundation, in part, made this possible. In addition, aid comes in honor of avid hiker and Friends of the Smokies founding board member, Lindsay Young.

To date, Friends of the Smokies patrons have contributed more than $2 million through the program, resulting in the full rehabilitation of Abrams Falls, Trillium Gap, Rainbow Falls, Alum Cave, Chimney Tops, and Forney Ridge trails.

Ramsey Prong in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. (Photo credit: GRSM, NPS media release)

After hiking many of these spots over the course of decades, the difference between these trails before and after their Trails Forever work is night and day.

You, too, can volunteer and help with the Trails Forever preservation work. Contact Trails and Facilities Volunteer Coordinator Adam Monroe at 828-497-1949, or via email at [email protected], to do so.

For more information about trail closures, please visit GRSM’s website here. Or call the Backcountry Information Office at 865-436-1297.