Spruce Flats Falls, Lumber Ridge Trailhead - Tremont Road, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
Spruce Flats Falls - 1.45 Miles
Lumber Ridge Trailhead - Tremont Road
|Round-Trip Length:||1.45 Miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||1,388' - 1,552' (1,704' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+164' net elevation gain (+478' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Spruce Flats Falls is located .72 miles from the Lumber Ridge Trailhead in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The waterfall and trail are not labeled on most maps (nor on signs at the trailhead), making Spruce Flats one of the best kept secrets in the Park.
Spruce Flats Falls has four tiers, the tallest reaching over 20' and spilling into a large pool suitable for swimming. The lower three are short drops with small pools ideal for wading and finding salamanders. You can see the entire fall from the end of the trail, and access each tier with a short scramble:
Begin at the Lumber Ridge Trailhead at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute on Tremont Road. Follow the gravel road up to the housing area and Buckeye Trail split (.05 miles), which is not labeled on most maps.
Turn right on the Buckeye Trail, which leads over staff housing to a sign marked 'Falls Trail' (.17 miles : 1,477'). Follow signs on a moderately steep climb to a crest with partial views of Blanket Mountain (.5 miles : 1,695').
Here the trail tilts steeply downhill on a laurel-lined path to the base of Spruce Flats Falls (.72 miles : 1,552').
The falls are located in a shaded rock ravine with ideal morning light contrast. The creek continues a short distance to its confluence with Middle Prong along Tremont Road.
Despite Spruce Flats' relative anonymity, it's still very popular among waterfall enthusiasts and photographers. Get an early start to enjoy optimal light and avoid crowds.
Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont
Tremont is a non-profit residential environmental education center that provides in-depth experiences through education programs that celebrate ecological and cultural diversity, foster stewardship, and nurture appreciation of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The Institute operates year-round, serving students and nature-lovers of all ages with school programs, workshops, summer youth programs and camps and naturalist certification classes.
GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84View these GPS points on a Google Map
- N35 38.491 W83 41.357 — 0.0 miles : Lumber Ridge Trailhead
- N35 38.475 W83 41.317 — .05 miles : Buckeye Trail split
- N35 38.385 W83 41.274 — .17 miles : Falls Trail split
- N35 38.136 W83 41.096 — .5 miles : Trail crests; begin drop to falls
- N35 38.068 W83 40.921 — .72 miles : Spruce Flats Falls
- Logging began in the Tremont area in 1924 by the Little River Lumber Company. The last logs were removed from the area in 1938, 4 years after the Park was established in 1934.
- Respect the privacy and property of the staff and students at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute while passing through.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- 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.
- 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
- 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 permitted on the trail to Indian Flats Falls.
- Leashed pets are allowed in developed areas and along roads, but are not allowed on park trails.
The Lumber Ridge Trailhead is located 19.2 miles from Sugarlands Visitor Center on Tremont Road in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
From the Sugarlands Visitor Center, travel 17.2 miles west on Little River Road to Tremont Road on the left (south). This turnoff is located just past the Highway 337-73 intersection.
Drive 2 miles on Tremont Road and turn left into the the Great Smoky Mountains Institute. The Lumber Ridge Trail begins on the south end of the parking lot.
Note the road turns to gravel shortly past the Institute and is subject to seasonal closures.
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)