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

The upper tier of Spruce Flats Falls

The upper tier of Spruce Flats Falls

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)
Skill Level: Easy-Moderate
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Spruce Flats Falls - 1.45 Miles Round-Trip

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.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

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.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • 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

Worth Noting

  • 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 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 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.

Directions to Trailhead

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.

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.


"It may be a short trail but it is strenuous. Very rocky and a lot of tree roots as well as wet rocks. Some parts are narrow and steep with a sharp drop on one side and mountain on the other. It's worth the effort to see the Falls, especially in the morning, and I highly recommend a swim in the cold water on a hot summer day. It's not always easy to navigate around the Falls on the rocks, it helps to be sure-footed."
Tree SB  -  New Richmond, OH  -  Date Posted: June 19, 2018
"I have been hiking in the Smoky Mountains for the past 7 years, but had not know about Spruce Flats Falls Trail until this Fall. I would rated the trail as moderate to difficult, especially the last stretch of trail before the falls. Very narrow path and very rough with exposed roots and rocks. Drop off on one side and the mountain on the other side of the trail. Hiking poles will come in handy at the point of the trail. The waterfall is beautiful, one of the best I have seen in the park. Well worth hiking the rough trail to see this gorgeous sight of Nature. "
Linda Rosland  -  United States  -  Date Posted: September 27, 2014
"Beautiful as always! This was my second hike to the falls. Plan to go again April 13th and taking my daughter and grandson and some friends. Can't believe this is not on the maps! It is one of the most easily accessible and stunning falls in the park, but not a lot of room at the base for lots of people."
jo wilson  -  United States  -  Date Posted: April 11, 2013
"One of the nicest falls in the park. Can't believe it's not on a map. Thanks protrails for the great information."
 -   -  Date Posted: May 27, 2012


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