TIME: 1H 50M
LENGTH: 2.4 MILES
ELEVATION: 585 FT
There are short and long hikes to reach the Grotto Falls. We chose to do the shorter hike from the Trillium Gap Trailhead. You can reach that trailhead by driving on the one way road named Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail (closed November – May).
The entrance to the road is in Gatlinburg. In town it is called the Historic Nature Trail. It turns into a one way and you will see a sign for the Cherokee Orchard Road. It’s interesting to see the surroundings go from buildings, cars, and businesses to trees, grass and nature.
While driving on the road we saw a couple of cars pulled over. They were looking into the tree canopy and I started guessing all the different birds they were potentially looking at. WRONG! It was a bear!
We were so excited about having seen a wild bear in its natural habitat. That is, until he decided to come down the tree. The bear descended so quickly that people immediately got into their cars for safety. But the bear wanted nothing to do with us and went one his merry way. We decided to follow his lead and also go on our merry way.
Once we reached the sign for the Trillium Gap Trail we noticed the parking was very limited. So if you’d prefer to not add the extra mileage to reach this area, I suggest getting up early. We were lucky and got one of the last spots.
The trail has many areas with man made steps. This made the trail one of the easier hikes we’ve done this year.
With that being said though, there are definitely some elevation changes that had me breaking into a sweat. Every time the trail descended I would think to myself, “Ugh, dreading the climb back up.” Not saying this to sound self-loathing in the least, but I am definitely the laziest hiker I know lol.
When we hit the first tiny waterfall we decided to stop. There seemed to be plenty of people at the main waterfall so we enjoyed this one on our own for a while.
Tony saw this area as his personal adult sized jungle gym. I enjoyed watching him trying to figure out how not to fall into the water!
When we considered enough people had left the main Grotto Falls area we went and took our pictures. This is my favorite one from that trip. So us 🙂
The trail continues after you walk behind the falls all the way to Mt Le Conte. We turned around and went back to the car. We wanted to see the rest of the motor trail and buy some souvenirs at the visitor center…
The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.John Muir
Great Smoky Mountains hiking national park Tennessee travel bear cherokee orchard road great smoky mountains national park grotto falls mount le conte national park nps smoky mountains Tennessee trillium gap trailhead waterfall
I'm a Salvadorean adventurer simply having fun outdoors!