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Grotto Falls, Great Smoky Mountains

Tennessee, TN, USA


It's exhilarating to stand behind the waterfall at the end of the Grotto Falls hike! What joy to feel the mist on your face, hear the crashing noise, and watch the sheet of clear water in front of you.
The walk to the falls is uphill and pleasant, with flowers galore on the trees. I've never seen big, pale pink flowers in a forested hike before! There are plenty of tree roots to avoid so pay attention.
The drive to the hike takes you on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, a pretty road with tall trees and leaves that catch the light. It's sad to read the park statistics, that many people only do this drive and never walk to a waterfall. Make sure you're not one of them!
This hike is an easy (2.6 miles total) way to get your family into nature, and just a short drive from Gatlinburg. Get something to eat in Gatlinburg before you leave because there's no food in the park.
On our hike, we saw something cute: employees of LeConte Lodge, the only accomodations inside the park, leading alpacas carrying hotel supplies up the trail! There is no road to the lodge, so guests must hike there.
While in the park, check out Mingus Mill and Mountain Farm Museum, both interesting and picturesque. To get there you must drive south on Newfound Gap Road, past misty mountain scenery and deep green forests.
Skip on the Laurel Falls hike, as the path is paved and it's very crowded- not at all like a hike in the woods! If you need a paved path though, it is good for that.
After your hike, go tubing to cool off. This is fun!

Photo Gallery

Behind the waterfall!

View along the road- layers of blue mountains.

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail and its tall trees.

View from a stop along the road- quite tropical looking!

The Grotto Falls trail- under a canopy of trees!

Flowers along the trail.

There are so many flowers!

Tall, bright green trees.

Looking through the trees.

Leading alpacas down the trail after bringing supplies to LeConte Lodge.

Flowers in the trees.

The waterfall appears through the vegetation!

A family makes it to the waterfall!

Grotto Falls and the pool below it.


This is an interactive map, you can zoom and move it.

Driving along the main road, Parkway, in Gatlinburg, turn left at the light #8 (the lights are marked) and follow Historic Nature Trail into Great Smoky Mountains National Park (entry is free). Take Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail and follow it until you see the sign for Grotto Falls. There is parking along the road.
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