Trillium Gap Trail

 2 votes
Building Map
Loading Map Data
Map Settings
Featured Hike

9.0 Miles 14.4 Kilometers


3,802' 1,159 m


-7' -2 m


6,374' 1,943 m


2,578' 786 m



Avg Grade (5°)


Max Grade (12°)



A popular, scenic hike that passes Grotto Falls on the way to Mt. Leconte.

Max Willner


Great Smoky Mountain National Park closes secondary roads on a seasonal schedule due to snow. Schedules can be found here.

All campsites must be registered with the park. Backcountry rules and regulations can be found here.
Features: Birding — Fall Colors — River/Creek — Spring — Views — Waterfall — Wildflowers — Wildlife
Dogs: No Dogs


The Trillium Gap Trail is one of several trails that lead to Mt. Le Conte. This trail can be reached by the Roaring Fork Motor Trail, but it's important to note that this road (among several others) closes every year during the winter season.

While the entire trail is technically nine miles, most hikers choose to drive roughly two miles in and park at the Grotto Falls parking area. The trailhead can be found just shortly in on the Rainbow Falls Trailhead. This is a wonderful hike that is lush with plant life and gradually offers amazing views on the way up to Mt. Le Conte.

About 3.5 miles into the route, visitors will pass Grotto Falls. This dramatic waterfall offers a great view, a perfect place to have a picnic, or just a spot to catch your breath.

Climbing to Trillium Gap is fairly easy to pull off, and the journey is sprinkled with a couple of stream crossings (including the Roaring Fork). The going gets a bit more challenging once hikers begin their way up towards the Mt. Le Conte lodge. Be sure to notice the abundance of milky quartz on the way to the top - one of the hardest and most common varieties of crystalline quartz on the planet. The last section of this trail is perhaps the rockiest, so it's good to exercise caution on your way to the top.

Once you reach the summit of Mt. Le Conte, you'll have a variety of options. Continue on to reach the summits of Cliff Top or of High Top if you're looking for more incredible views.

If the 9-mile return journey is too much to contemplate for one day, there are various overnight options available. Stay at the Le Conte Lodge, or camp out at the Mt. Le Conte shelter. No matter what you choose, your return journey will follow the same gentle and scenic trail that you took on the ascent.

Flora & Fauna

The Smokies are home to more than 1,600 species of plants, most of which produce an abundance of flowers in the spring. These species include mountain laurel, rhododendron, azalea, and many others. Spring wildflowers peak from early April through late May. To learn more about the plants of the Smokies and even get a trees and shrubs checklist, visit the park's website.

As for local fauna, black bears are common in the area, along with white-tailed deer and 31 species of salamanders. Birdwatchers can spot a variety of species, notably the northern flicker (Colaptes auratus) and red-eyed vireo (Vireo olivaceus). For more information on black bears, refer to this webpage.


Rate Trail


3.5 from 2 votes

Get On-Trail Navigation

Send to Phone
Your Check-Ins


Apr 11, 2017
Paul Vincent
Nice hike. Waterfalls were pretty 3.5mi
Oct 17, 2016
James King
Sep 25, 2016
Amber Hardy
Sep 20, 2016
Jason Vontsolos
In my opinion the best way to the top of LeConte. Least rocky trail saves the feet. More gradual than Rainbow or Bullhead. Up in 3h10m Down in 2h23m
Sep 3, 2016
Nick Warner
14mi — 8h 00m
Aug 28, 2016
Katie Burns
Aug 17, 2016
Jocelyn Nelson
Hard. Also miscalculated the mileage so that didn't help. Definitely wished we would have stayed at the top and not gone back down in the same day. 9mi — 6h 30m

Trail Ratings

  3.5 from 2 votes


in Roaring Fork


  3.5 from 2 votes
1 Star
2 Star
3 Star
4 Star
5 Star


in Roaring Fork


35 Views Last Month
163 Since Aug 5, 2016
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult



Getting forecast...


Hiking Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Hiking