Hen Wallow Falls, Cosby Campground - Gabes Mountain Trailhead, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina

Hen Wallow Falls - 3.85 miles

Cosby Campground - Gabes Mountain Trailhead

Hen Wallow Falls

Hen Wallow Falls

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Round-Trip Length: 3.85 miles
Start-End Elevation: 2,210' - 2,765' (2,927' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +555' net elevation gain (+1,120' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Hen Wallow Falls - 3.85 Miles Round-Trip

Hen Wallow Falls is located 1.9 miles from the Gabes Mountain - Cosby Campground Trailhead in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. At 90' it ranks among the tallest in the Park - only Ramsey Cascades and Mingo Falls are higher.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

The falls are only 2' wide at the top, but fan 20' across a vertical rock face down to base. Visitors will enjoy mixed hardwoods, hemlock and rhododendron on the hike to Hen Wallow Falls:

The Gabes Mountain Trail begins with a steady climb in a damp hemlock and hardwood forest. It roughens on a shifting and heavily rooted path that gains 500' on the first mile. Note subtle changes in forest composition as you progress into a drier forest past 1.0 mile (2,710').

You'll reach the spur for Hen Wallow Falls at 1.8 miles (2,937') and drop quickly on steep, rugged switchbacks to the falls (1.92 miles : 2,765').

The viewing area is limited and cluttered with large boulders and debris. It will take some maneuvering for additional perspective, but climbing up the falls is extremely hazardous and strongly discouraged.

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Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

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  • N35 45.473 W83 12.582 — 0.0 miles : Gabes Mountain Trailhead
  • N35 45.329  W83 13.103 — .5 miles : Steep climb in damp lower forest
  • N35 45.350  W83 13.594 — 1.0 miles : Grades moderate in drier forest
  • N35 45.524 W83 14.015 — 1.5 miles : Steady climb
  • N35 45.608  W83 14.192 — 1.8 miles : Hen Wallow Falls Trail split
  • N35 45.607 W83 14.278 — 1.92 miles : Hen Wallow Falls

Worth Noting

  • Enjoy waterfalls from a safe distance, and be mindful of crowds, slippery surfaces, and steep ledges at Hen Wallow Falls. Never attempt to climb the falls.

  • Given its proximity to Cosby Campground, consider Hen Wallow Falls on off-peak days to avoid large crowds.

  • The Gabes Mountain Trail continues west past the falls with access to a number of old growth Cove Hardwood stands along the Maddron Bald Trail.

Camping and Backpacking Information

BACKPACKING IN THE SMOKIES

Great Smoky Mountains National Park requires a permit and advance reservations for all backcountry camping in the park. Before planning your backcountry trip, please read through this important information about reservations and permits, regulations, bear safety, trail closures, and more.

Reserve your Backcountry or Thru Hike permits here: https://smokiespermits.nps.gov/

Please direct questions concerning backpacking trip planning to the Backcountry Information Office at (865) 436-1297. Phone calls are the preferred method of contact. The information office is open daily from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time). In addition to answering your backpacking questions, the experienced backpackers in the Backcountry Information Office can provide you with tips to make your trip safe and enjoyable.

Backpackers and hikers are subject to all Backcountry Rules and Regulations. Failure to abide by park regulations may subject you to a fine under Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations. Maximum fine for each violation is $5,000 and/or 6 months in jail.

General Backcountry Regulations

1. Camping is permitted only at designated backcountry campsites and shelters.

2. You may not stay at any backcountry campsite for more than 3 consecutive nights. You may not stay consecutive nights at campsite 113 or at any shelter.

3. Maximum party size is 8. Two parties affiliated with the same group may not stay in the same campsite or at the same shelter on the same night(s). Special permits may be issued for a few sites that accommodate parties of up to 12.

4. Fires are only allowed at designated campsites and shelters and must be contained in a fire ring. Constructing new fire rings is prohibited. You may only burn wood that is dead and already on the ground. You may not cut any standing wood.

5. It is illegal to possess firewood originating from a location from which a federal or state firewood quarantine is in effect. Read information about this quarantine and the states affected.

6. Building a fire in the fireplace of any historic structure or removing any parts of a historic structure, including brick or rock, is illegal.

7. Backcountry permit holders may not use tents at shelters.

8. Hammocks may only be used within designated backcountry campsites. They may not be used inside shelters and may not be attached to shelters in any way.

9. All odorous items (e.g., food, trash, lip balm, toothpaste, stock feed, hay etc) must be hung on the bear cable system at each campsite or shelter.

10. Human waste must be disposed of at least 100 feet from any campsite, shelter, water source or trail and must be buried in a hole at least 6 inches deep.

11. All food, trash, clothing, equipment or personal items must be packed out.

12. Burning food, trash or anything other than dead wood is prohibited.

13. Carving into or defacing trees, signs, shelters or other backcountry features is illegal.

14. Soap, even biodegradable soap, may not be used in any water sources. Bathing and washing dishes should be done well away from water sources and campsites.

15. No dogs or other pets are allowed on any park trails except the Gatlinburg Trail and the Oconaluftee River Trail. No dogs or other pets may be carried into the backcountry.

16. No motorized vehicles are allowed in the backcountry.

17. No hunting is allowed anywhere in the park

18. Feeding, touching or teasing wildlife is prohibited. You may not willfully approach within 50 yards (150 feet) of elk or bears.

Fishing Information

  • Fishing is permitted year-round, from 30 minutes before official sunrise to 30 minutes after official sunset.

  • The park allows fishing in all streams except Bear Creek at its junction with Forney Creek, and Lynn Camp Prong upstream of its confluence with Thunderhead Prong.

  • A valid fishing license from Tennessee or North Carolina is required to fish in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Either state license is valid throughout the park and no trout stamp is required. Fishing licenses and permits are not available in the park, but may be purchased in nearby towns or online.

  • Daily Possession Limits: Five (5) brook, rainbow or brown trout, smallmouth bass, or a combination of these, each day or in possession, regardless of whether they are fresh, stored in an ice chest, or otherwise preserved. The combined total must not exceed five fish. Twenty (20) rock bass may be kept in addition to the above limit. A person must stop fishing immediately after obtaining the limit.

  • Size Limits: Brook, rainbow, and brown trout: 7 inch minimum. Smallmouth bass: 7 inch minimum. Rockbass: no minimum. Trout or smallmouth bass caught less than the legal length shall be immediately returned to the water from which it was taken.

  • Lures, Bait, and Equipment: Fishing is permitted only by the use of one hand-held rod. Only artificial flies or lures with a single hook may be used. Dropper flies may be used, with up to two flies on a leader.

Rules and Regulations

  • There is no entrance fee to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

  • Pets, motorized vehicles, and bicycles are not permitted on backcountry trails in GSMNP.

  • Horses are not permitted on the trail to Hen Wallow Falls.

  • Leashed pets are allowed in developed areas and along roads, but are not allowed on park trails.

Directions to Trailhead

The Cosby Campground - Gabes Mountain Trailhead is located 21 miles from Traffic Light #3 in Gatlinburg TN.

From Gatlinburg, take Highway 321-73 North 17.8 miles to the turn for Cosby Camp - Highway 32. Turn right toward Cosby Camp. Drive 1.2 miles and veer right onto Cosby Park Road. Continue 2.0 miles to the Gabes Mountain Trailhead parking lot on the left. The trailhead parking area is large but not marked.

The Gabes Mountain Trailhead is located across the street, just before the turnoff into the lot.

Contact Information

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
107 Park Headquarters Road
Gatlinburg, TN 37738

Visitor Information - Recorded Message
865.436.1200

Backcountry Office - Camping and Reservations
The Backcountry Reservation Office is open from 8 am - 6 pm daily (EST)
865.436.1231

Backcountry Information Office - Trip Planning Questions
The information office is open daily 9 am - 12n (EST)
865.436.1297

Sugarlands Visitor Center (Tennessee side - north entrance)
865.436.1291

Oconaluftee Visitor Center (North Carolina side - south entrance)
828.497.1904

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.



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