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Research Areas > Great Smokys > Cades Cove


Abrams Falls

     The 2.5-mile long foot trail to Abrams Falls crosses light gray metasandstone and dark gray to black metasiltstone of the Cades Sandstone.  Abrams Creek mostly flows on gently dipping beds of metasandstone and follows a prominent northwest-striking set of joints.   These rocks are well exposed where the trail climbs a narrow neck of Arbutus Ridge where Abrams Creek forms a horseshoe bend.  Continued erosion may eventually result in Abrams Creek cutting through the neck and abandoning the creek bed in the bend.  A similar abandoned meander of the Little River, called  "the Sinks", is west of Metcalf Bottoms.

      The creek plunges 20 feet over nearly horizontal metasandstone and metasiltstone of the Cades Sandstone at Abrams Falls.  The trail along the plunge pool leads to an impressive bluff of massive thin- to medium-bedded metasandstone is interbedded with metasiltstone that has southeast-dipping cleavage.  Fragments of black metasiltstone are within metasandstone, indicating that they were torn from a silt bed and transported in a sand slurry in deep water.  Potholes in the metasandstone formed as abrasive pebbles were swirled by water within a depression.

     Northwest of Abrams Falls the rocks of the Cades Sandstone are thrust faulted on light gray quartz conglomerate of the Shields Formation along the Rabbit Creek thrust fault.  These distinctive rocks are part of the Walden Creek Group and reflect a dramatic change in depositional environment.

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Arbutus Ridge

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Abrams Falls

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Shields Formation

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