Located in the Tremont section of the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, the Middle Prong Trail to Indian Flats Falls is 8.2 miles out and back.
Driving 3 miles beyond the Tremont Institute, which features a small gift shop and restroom, the gravel road dead ends at a parking area by the trailhead. Crossing a footbridge over the river, the trail forks to the left and parallels Lynn Camp Prong.
Hikers will enjoy the sound of running water over the course of a 1140-foot elevation gain en route to Indian Flats Falls. At approx. 1/2 mile, the impressive 35-foot tall Lynn Camp Falls can be viewed from the trail.
The Middle Prong Trail was originally a railroad bed used by the Little River Railroad & Lumber Company, based in Townsend, Tennessee, which was one of the largest commercial logging operations in southern Appalachia, operating for 38 years until 1939, with 150 miles of railroad. Visitors can find more information available at the Little River Railroad Museum.
Along the way, hikers will observe vestiges from that era, including limited glimpses of railroad tracks and other steel remnants, a toppled chimney and an abandoned 1920’s Cadillac taxi. Other encounters may include horses – equestrians allowed, so watch your step – and bears, common to the area.
Over the course of the trail, hikers should expect an increase in grade and quantity of scattered small-to-medium sized rocks. There are two bridges to cross, as well as two small creek beds, easily traversed by stepping on rocks to keep dry.
After hiking 4 miles up a mountainside, one might expect to see a sign pointing to Indian Flats Falls. Alas, there are no signs. Instead, following several turns and an increase in elevation, the path broadens substantially at a switchback. Rather than continuing left, hikers will see a path to the right, tucked behind a large bush near a rock face. Turning right is a short, moderately difficult path over some rocks and under a few downed trees – then, the falls!
Emerging from the path, visitors are greeted with a wonderful view of the 20-foot tall top section of Indian Flats Falls. There is plenty of room for several people to gather, though hikers should remain weary of slippery conditions on what would otherwise appear as flat rock surfaces.
This waterfall actually has four-tiers, for a total height of 60-feet, though access to these lower areas isn’t easy, requiring one to get dirty foraging through the brush, descending shallow rock ledges, and wading knee-deep through a plunge pool at the base.
If you’re prepared to sustain a few scratches and get muddy, the views are definitely worth the effort.
Fine quality prints are available in my gallery at Fine Art America.
The following photography presents Indian Flats Falls, top-down:
If you enjoy the great outdoors, then I’d highly recommend the hike to Indian Flats Falls. And, plan to spend more time than you might otherwise expect, as you’ll often find yourself stopping to enjoy scenery along the river.
Thanks for stopping by!