Mingo Falls, Mingo Falls Trailhead, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina

Mingo Falls - 0.35 miles

Mingo Falls Trailhead

Mingo Falls

Mingo Falls

Round-Trip Length: 0.35 miles
Start-End Elevation: 2,295' - 2,418' (2,418' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +123' net elevation gain
Skill Level: Easy
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Mingo Falls - 0.35 Miles Round-Trip

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.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N35 32.032 W83 16.564 — 0.0 miles : Mingo Falls Trailhead
  • N35 31.921 W83 16.518 — .18 miles : Mingo Falls

Worth Noting

  • 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.

Campsites #26 and #28 are located along this trail as described above.


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

  • 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.

Directions to Trailhead

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.

Contact Information

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)

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.


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