7-29-15 - If you are looking to escape the crowds and still see a beautiful 25' waterfall, take the hike to Baskins Creek Falls. There are 2 trails to this waterfall. Both are off of the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail which is closed during the winter months, but you can still access the first trail in winter by parking in the lot for Rainbow Falls. I've only hiked from the second trail which is supposed to be the easier of the two. It's an out and back hike of just over 3 miles and moderate in difficulty. It's also bigger kid friendly, but you might end up having to carry small children on the way back out as it's uphill most of the way.
Directions: From Hwy 441 in downtown Gatlinburg, go to stop light #8, reset your odometer, and turn on to Airport Rd. Online maps now show this as Historic Nature Trail. In about 0.6 miles, bear right on to Cherokee Orchard Rd. Pass the old Bud Ogle homestead which is a great stop for historic buildings in the Smokies. At just under 3.5 miles from the stop light, you'll see the parking for Rainbow Falls and other trail heads. If you want to see Baskins Creek Falls in the winter, park here and walk up the road for about 0.5 miles to the first trail head for Baskins Creek Falls. During warmer weather, continue past this parking area and turn onto the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. In another 0.25 miles, look for the first trail head to the falls on the right. If you want to hike this trail, park and walk up the road for a short distance. The trail will be on the left. For the second trail head, continue driving on the RFMNT for a total of 6.75 miles from the stop light. You will have passed the parking for Grotto Falls. The parking for the waterfall is also the parking for the Jim Bales Place historic buildings. The trail begins at the parking area.
The trail begins level, but soon begins to descend as it passes an old cemetery. The trail levels out once again, and from here you have a combination of uphill and downhill hiking - but mostly downhill. At less than 0.75 miles in, you'll pick up a small tributary of Baskins Creek and at just over 1 mile in you'll cross Baskins Creek. You may notice a side trail heading down creek from this area, but don't take it. Cross the creek and continue on the Baskins Creek Trail which will head uphill once again, then back downhill. Begin looking for the side trail to the waterfall on the right. If you miss it, you'll continue on the trail back to the other parking area. This side trail ends up at the base of the waterfall in about 0.25 miles.
These photos and video were taken on my last visit to this waterfall in mid April 2012.
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