“Everything about it is big,” says Kevin Umberger. Never-logged forests of hemlocks and tulip poplars (the latter up to seven feet in diameter) line rushing creeks bordered by house-size boulders. You’ll also gain 2,376 feet on the Ramsey Cascade Trail to the base of the falls. Dropping ten stories over a series of rock steps, Ramsey is the highest cataract in the park. In the pools below it, look for black-chinned reds and hellbenders—at three feet long, one of the world’s biggest salamanders. Tack on 6.7 miles (on the AT, just above the falls) to reach Campsite 33.
PLAN IT Driving From Gatlinburg, go east on US 321 for six miles. Turn right on Greenbrier Rd. and drive 3.1 miles to Greenbrier Cove. Turn left at Ramsey Prong Rd. and head 1.5 miles to parking.
Map Trails Illustrated Great Smoky Mountains National Park ($12, natgeomaps .com)