Grotto Falls Trail

#8 in Best Things To Do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Grotto Falls Trail  picture
mhare2000/Getty Images

Key Info

No. 5 stop on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Hiking, Recreation, Free Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.0scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 2.0Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

Located along the Trillium Gap Trail – off the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail – Grotto Falls is a nearly 3-mile-long, round-trip hike that actually runs behind a 25-foot waterfall. Summer hikers love the cool environment through the old-growth hemlock forest and by the falls, although park officials caution that swimming or climbing on rocks near the falls is prohibited. 

Although some recent visitors said Grotto Falls was doable for amateur hikers, most cautioned that the rough and slippery trail – and its exposed tree roots – is not recommended for novices or children. Many also commented on the uphill climb and the stream crossings, which can be very slippery, but all visitors were impressed with the amazing waterfall. Reviewers recommended wearing sturdy hiking shoes with good traction and carrying both bear and bug spray. 

The Trillium Trail to Grotto Falls can be accessed from the No. 5 stop on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. Access to the falls is free. For more information, visit the NPS website.

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More Best Things To Do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Roaring Fork Motor Trail1 of 9
Newfound Gap Road2 of 9
Type
Time to Spend
#1 Roaring Fork Motor Trail

The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, a nearly 6-mile-long, one-way loop road, offers spectacular mountain scenery and access to two of the region's most popular waterfalls: Rainbow Falls and Grotto Falls. You can actually walk behind the 25-foot high falls at the Grotto via the Trillium Gap Trail. You'll also see historic log cabins and the remains of a mountain village, the Roaring Fork Cemetery and an array of wildlife from birds and deer to black bears.

Recent visitors who raved about the beautiful waterfalls and mountain scenery on this motor trail said this is a must-see and a great place to spot bears in the wild. However, some summer tourists bemoaned the fact that the trail was crowded and offered limited parking areas. To avoid the midday rush of visitors, plan your drive in the morning to beat the crowds.

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