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.

See all Hotels in Great Smoky Mountains National Park »

More Best Things To Do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Roaring Fork Motor Trail
Newfound Gap Road
Type
Time to Spend
1 of 9
#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.

Read more
SuperT76/Getty Images
See full list of Best Things To Do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park »

Explore More of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Recommended

The 5 Best Kauai Helicopter Tours

See the Garden Island's far-reaching beauty from the air.

Holly JohnsonJune 14, 2019

The 6 Best Las Vegas Helicopter Tours

Get a thrilling look at the lights and sights of Sin City and its surroundings with one of these tours.

Holly JohnsonJune 13, 2019

20 Road Trip Essentials for Your Vacation

These road trip must-haves can help you save money, travel more comfortably and ensure you stay safe on the open road.

Holly JohnsonJune 13, 2019

13 Top Charlottesville Wineries to Visit

Sip a glass of Virginia's signature viognier as the sun sets over the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Gwen PratesiJune 12, 2019

The 16 Best Seattle Tours

Explore the Emerald City's natural beauty and urban offerings with these guided excursions.

Lyn MettlerJune 12, 2019

The 24 Best London Tours

Whether it's your first time in London or you're a repeat visitor, you'll experience a side of the city you've never seen with these tours.

Kim Foley MacKinnonJune 6, 2019

The 21 Best Paris Tours

Enhance your visit to the City of Love with one of these top tours.

Claire LawtonJune 5, 2019

The 20 Best New York City Tours

These guided tours help make the most of your time in the Big Apple.

John RodwanJune 4, 2019

The 24 Best Rome Tours

Enjoy the efficiency of an organized tour led by experts who bring Rome's history to life.

Kyle McCarthyMay 31, 2019

The 8 Best Savannah Ghost Tours

Prove you're not afraid of the dark by taking one of these terrifying tours.

Gwen PratesiMay 31, 2019