Hiking to Baskins Creek Falls: Great Smoky Mountains

Hiking to Baskins Creek Falls is a moderate hike, a 3-mile roundtrip venture. This out-and-back trail has a 953 feet elevation change.

You'll be walking downhill to get to the falls, so it's super easy to get to the falls, and the climb back up will be more exertion. 

This waterfall isn't well visited – it's a great hiking trail when the other trails are busy. Baskins Creek Falls is a two-tiered, 40-foot-tall waterfall. While in the area, check out some of the other amazing falls in the Roaring Fork Area.

The journey to the trailhead will pass by several landmarks, such as the Baskins Cemetery and the remains of old homesteads.

Baskins Creek Falls was named after the Baskins family, who were early settlers in the area now known as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Bearskin Joe, a local hunter, and other pioneers rest in the old cemetery, a solemn reminder of the Smoky Mountains' past inhabitants.

Be sure to pick up a Great Smoky Mountains National Park parking pass before heading to the trailhead. 

A serene waterfall cascading down a mossy, rocky cliff into a small creek, with a fallen log over the rocks and a moss-covered tree in the foreground, in a lush green woodland setting.
Photo by Brevort on Flickr

How to get to the Baskins Creek Falls Trailhead

To start your adventure to Baskins Creek, head out from downtown Gatlinburg. 

Turn from the bustling main Parkway onto the tranquil Historic Nature Trail/Airport Road. After a short drive of about 0.7 miles, get onto Cherokee Orchard Road.

Continue on this road for another 2.2 miles, and you'll enter the scenic one-way Cherokee Orchard Loop.

Cars driving along asphalt road in a wooded area in the spring season.

Follow the loop for about 0.9 miles, then keep an eye out for the turnoff onto the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail loop – this is another one-way route that leads you deeper into the area's natural beauty.

Just a short 0.2-mile drive on this loop, and you'll spot the trailhead for Baskins Creek Falls on the left side of the road. There is a small parking area.

Look for a small brown sign, the only marking indicating the trail's beginning. The trailhead starts from the center of this parking area.

This parking area is a great starting point, not just for this waterfall but also for several intertwining paths in the area.

The Roaring Fork Road typically closes in winter, but a short hike from Cherokee Orchard Road can still get you to the trailhead. 

After parking, be ready for a short ascent followed by a longer descent towards the falls. This part of the trail offers diverse experiences, from leisurely strolls to more strenuous sections, especially after rainfall when the trail can get slippery. 

Tip: Trekking poles are helpful for the steep descent – especially if it's muddy!

Tip: No parking at the Baskins Creek Falls Trailhead? You may find parking in a couple of small pullovers along the route. The Grapeyard Ridge Trail is another option for the 3.1-mile out-and-back hike to Baskins Creek Falls. The total elevation gain for this trail is 787 feet.

Wooden Sign with Baskins Falls with arrow engraved into the wood on a wooden post.
Photo by Brevort on Flickr

What to expect on the Trail

Your journey to Baskins Creek Falls begins with a gentle ascent.

In the initial quarter-mile stretch, the terrain levels out, offering decent views of the western mountains and glimpses of Gatlinburg, particularly vivid during winter or early spring.

There isn't much view during the summer due to all of the foliage.

As you reach the 0.9-mile point, you'll encounter a notable feature of this hike – crossing Falls Branch.

This crossing doesn't have a footbridge, so if you're hiking post-heavy rain, be prepared for the possibility of getting your feet wet.

After the water crossing, the trail will turn to the left, following the creek downhill in a rapid descent. 

At the 1.1-mile mark, a side trail veers off to the left, leading to Baskins Cemetery. You will want to keep to the right to continue towards the falls.

Shortly after that, you will reach another small creek crossing. This crossing is much easier than the previous water crossing.

Reaching a trail junction at 1.3 miles, you have a decision to make. Going straight will lead you across Baskins Creek towards the eastern side of the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, which is about 1.3 miles away.

You'll want to turn left at this junction to keep on route to visit the falls.

The final 50 yards down to Baskins Creek Falls is notably steep and rugged terrain.

Despite the challenge, it's well worth the effort. This 40-foot, two-tiered waterfall is remarkably underrated, given its beauty and tranquility.

It's also an ideal spot for a picnic lunch or a snack. Enjoy the soothing sounds of falling water before the trek back up the steep ascent.

Small stream meandering through a wooded area in the spring when the ground is green with grass and ferns and trees have leaves.

Other Waterfalls in the Roaring Forks Area

If you decide Baskins Falls isn't for you, or if heavy rain makes you leary of the creek crossing, no worries, as there are a few other waterfalls along the one-way Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.

Rainbow Falls

  • Hike Distance: The Rainbow Falls Trail is a round trip of about 5.4 miles. 
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Hard
  • Note: One of the most famous falls in the park is known for the rainbow created by mist on sunny afternoons.
Rainbow Falls dramatically plunges over a cliff surrounded by the vibrant greenery of the forest, with a hiker standing at the base to give scale to the majestic scene.

Grotto Falls

  • Hike Distance: The Trillium Gap Trail will lead to Grotto Falls. It will be a 2.6-mile round trip from the parking lot to the falls.
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
  • Note: Unique for walking behind the falls.
Waterfall falling over rock out cropping with greenery at the top of the falls. A couple are standing behind this walk behind waterfall.

Place of a Thousand Drips

  • Hike Distance: Accessible by car; minimal walking required.
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Note: This waterfall is easy to spot after heavy rain and can be viewed from the roadside.

Each of these waterfalls offers a distinct experience, from the enchanting view behind Grotto Falls to the impressive height of Rainbow Falls.

Whether you're up for a challenging hike or prefer a more leisurely stroll, the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail has a waterfall hike for every kind of adventurer.

FAQS:

How difficult is the hike to Baskins Creek Falls?

The hike to Baskins Creek Falls is considered moderate in difficulty. It's a 3-mile round trip with a mix of easy climbs, rapid descents, and a steep, rugged path leading down to the falls. It's suitable for hikers with a moderate level of fitness.

Can I swim at Baskins Creek Falls?

While the pool at the base of Baskins Creek Falls might look inviting, swimming is not recommended due to the potential for strong currents and the rocky, uneven nature of the creek bed. It's best to enjoy the falls from the shore.

Is there parking available near the trailhead?

Yes, there is a small parking area near the trailhead for Baskins Creek Falls, located just off the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. Space is limited, so arriving early is advisable, especially during peak season.

Are pets allowed on the trail to Baskins Creek Falls?

Pets are not allowed on most trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, including the trail to Baskins Creek Falls. This rule helps protect wildlife and ensures the safety of both pets and hikers.

What's the best time of year to visit Baskins Creek Falls?

Baskins Creek Falls can be visited year-round, but the best time to go is in the spring when the water flow is at its peak due to melting snow and rainfall. Fall is also a great time to visit for the colorful foliage, although the water flow might be less.

How long does it take to hike to Baskins Creek Falls?

The hike to Baskins Creek Falls typically takes about 1.5 to 2 hours round trip, depending on your pace and how long you spend at the falls.

Is Baskins Creek Falls accessible year-round?

Yes, the trail to Baskins Creek Falls is accessible year-round, but remember that the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail may be closed during winter due to snow or ice conditions. Check the park's website for current conditions before your visit.

Final Thoughts: Baskins Creek Falls

Now that you've got the dirt on visiting Baskins Creek Falls, I hope you see why this spot is a cherished hidden gem in the Great Smoky Mountains.

The enchanting two-tiered waterfall, set amidst lush forests, offers a spectacular view and a serene escape into nature.

Key Takeaways:

  • Accessibility: The journey to Baskins Falls begins with an easy drive from Gatlinburg, leading you through a scenic and natural route.
  • The Hike: A moderate 3-mile round trip, the trail to the falls is an enjoyable experience, featuring a blend of easy climbs, rapid descents, and creek crossings. Though steep and rugged, the final descent to the falls is an exhilarating part of the adventure.
  • Seasonal Beauty: Whether it's the clear views in winter or the lush summer foliage, every season offers a unique backdrop for the falls, making it a year-round destination. Spring is the best time to visit – snow melt makes the falls more powerful!
  • Nearby Attractions: The Roaring Fork Motor Trail, with its plethora of other trails and waterfalls like Rainbow Falls and Grotto Falls, provides ample opportunity for further exploration.

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Baskins Creek Falls in the Smoky Mountains - water flowing down mossy rocks.
4 images: Baskins Creek Falls in the Smoky Mountains - water flowing down mossy rocks. Moss covered rocks in a creek with lush trees surrounding the creek. One way paved road with trees along the roadside. Old cemetery headstones lined up in rows in the early spring.
Baskins Creek Falls in the Smoky Mountains - water flowing down mossy rocks. Water is smooth flowing.

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