Mingo Falls, Mingo Falls Trailhead, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
Mingo Falls - 0.35 Miles
Mingo Falls Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||0.35 Miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||2,295' - 2,418' (2,418' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+123' net elevation gain|
Mingo Falls is located 6 miles from the Oconaluftee Visitor, just outside Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the Cherokee Indian Reservation.
Mingo means Big Bear in the Cherokee language, an appropriate name for this 120' waterfall. Mingo Falls is one of the tallest in all of southern Appalachia, and taller than any within Park boundaries.
A short trail runs up a steep flight of stairs to a bridge spanning the bottom of Mingo Falls (.17 miles : 2,418'). While the bridge viewing area is comprehensive, it's possible to scramble to other vantages around the falls.
Light is typically best early in the morning, before the sun emerges and glares off the top of the falls.
GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84View these GPS points on a Google Map
- N35 32.032 W83 16.564 — 0.0 miles : Mingo Falls Trailhead
- N35 31.921 W83 16.518 — .18 miles : Mingo Falls
- Crowds build daily at Mingo Falls, especially on weekends. Arrive early to secure parking, avoid crowds, and for optimal light on the falls.
- Mingo Falls is 120' tall; the Park's tallest are Rainbow Falls (80') and Ramsey Cascades (90').
Camping and Backpacking Information
Mingo Falls is located just outside Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are several campgrounds in Cherokee and nearby Bryson City, NC.
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park requires a permit for all backcountry camping in the park. Backcountry permits are free and available at 14 visitor centers, campgrounds, and park office locations.
- Permit registration facilities are open 24 hours a day. Permits must be picked up in the park at designated locations. They are not available on the internet or through email.
- Campsites #26 and #28 are located along this trail as described above.
- Advance reservations are required to camp at all Shelters and Backcountry Campsites 9, 10, 13, 17, 20, 21, 23, 24, 29, 36, 37, 38, 46, 47, 50, 55, 57, 60, 61, 71, 83, 86, 90, 113.
- Reservations for backcountry campsites may be obtained only by calling the Backcountry Office (865.436.1231). They are not available online or through email.
- If you do not plan to camp at a shelter or reserved campsite, then you only need to complete a permit.
- There is a 3 consecutive night stay maximum at any given campsite, and 1 night maximum at any shelter. The use of tents at shelters is prohibited. The maximum group size is 8 persons for sites and shelters.
- Open fires are prohibited except at designated sites and in established fire rings.
- All food and trash must be suspended at least 10' off the ground and 4' from the nearest limb or trunk, or stored as otherwise designated (e.g. bear box).
- The Backcountry Reservation Office is open from 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. daily.
- 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
- Dgos are permitted on the Pigeon Creek Trail to Mingo Falls. Dogs are not permitted on trail in Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
- There is no entrance fee to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Mingo Falls is located 6 miles from the Oconaluftee Visitor, just outside Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the Cherokee Indian Reservation (Qualla Boundary).
From Oconaluftee, drive 1.2 miles south on US 441 to Big Cove Road (second left from visitor center). Turn left on Big Cove Road and drive .2 miles to the stop sign. Turn left. Drive 4.6 miles to the Mingo Falls Trailhead on your right.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
107 Park Headquarters Road
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Visitor Information - Recorded Message
Backcountry Office - Camping and Reservations
The Backcountry Reservation Office is open from 8 am - 6 pm daily (EST)
Backcountry Information Office - Trip Planning Questions
The information office is open daily 9 am - 12n (EST)
Oconaluftee Visitor Center (North Carolina side - south entrance)
Sugarlands Visitor Center (Tennessee side - north entrance)