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Grotto Falls

Intermediate
 4.4 (72) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

One of the few waterfalls you can hike behind in the Smokies.


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Map Key

2.6

Miles

4.2

KM

Out and Back

3,690' 1,125 m

High

3,174' 968 m

Low

515' 157 m

Up

516' 157 m

Down

7%

Avg Grade (4°)

20%

Max Grade (11°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall

Family Friendly Not too steep or too long. We did Grotto Falls as a family hike with my 6 year old son. My son loved going under/behind the waterfall.

Roaring Fork Motor Trail is closed during the winter. Check the NPS site for road closures to make sure that the road is open.

Overview

A fun and relatively easy hike that can be enjoyed by the entire family.

Description

The trail is not too steep and is in pretty good shape. There are spots that have a lot of roots or are pretty rocky, but most of the trail is dirt until the last 150 ft or so around the waterfall. There are a few places where shallow (< 2 inches deep) streams run across the trail. Most of these you can get through without getting wet.

Along the trail, there are several places that you give you a good view of the area. We also saw several different insect species (butterflies, millipedes, and caterpillars) on or near the trail. My son loved looking for these insects which kept him interested as we were hiking.

The hike took us a little over 2 hours, but we also stopped and had snacks at the waterfall and took several pictures. Going to the falls, the trail is all uphill even though it is not very steep. But what goes up, must come down! When hiking with a small child, it's nice to be able to say "it's all downhill from here".

The only drawback to this trail is that parking can be difficult. It is a pretty popular trail being so close to Gatlinburg. The actual parking for this trail is a fairly small lot, and there are lots of cars on the side of the road. We ended up parking about half a mile from the actual trail on a gravel shoulder.

Other than the parking, this was a fun hike with our family.

Flora & Fauna

Salamanders and varying insects that my 6 year old liked.

Contacts

Shared By:

Michael Flanigan with improvements by Tim Beckers

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 72 votes

#1

in Roaring Fork

#103

Overall
  4.4 from 72 votes
5 Star
56%
4 Star
33%
3 Star
10%
2 Star
1%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#1

in Roaring Fork

#103

Overall
55 Views Last Month
4,113 Since Sep 4, 2017
Intermediate

3%
9%
68%
12%
8%
0%

Photos

Leave Only Your Footprints. The scene from Grotto Falls after a February morning snow fall in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. From Dec. to mid-March, the trail begins at the Rainbow Falls Trailhead (6 miles r/t). Rest of the year, you can begin at Trillium Gap Trailhead for a 2.6-mile hike.
Apr 7, 2016 near Gatlinburg, TN
Grotto Falls
Sep 4, 2015 near Gatlinburg, TN
Pack Llamas
Mar 2, 2020 near Gatlinburg, TN
Grotto Falls in background with rock path on the right. Taken November 2018 on a rainy/snowy ascent of Mt. Laconte. A little rain makes the creek crossings swollen. Socks were damp to say the least even with Gortex leather mid-hiking boots.
Nov 11, 2019 near Gatlinburg, TN
Standing behind Grotto Falls with my son.
Sep 6, 2017 near Gatlinburg, TN

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Check-Ins

Mar 25, 2022
Maria Gula
2.5mi
Nov 23, 2021
Jolie Thomas
Absolutely worth the hike! Beautiful
Oct 27, 2021
Bethany Pagel
Oct 23, 2021
Maribeth McCormack
Oct 20, 2021
stephen jackson
3.7mi — 2h 20m
Oct 14, 2021
Nick DiFranco
Beautiful out-and-back and hiking behind the waterfall is cool!
Oct 6, 2021
Vicki Emanuel
Oct 5, 2021
Teresa Herndon