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Grotto Falls

Intermediate
 4.5 (80)

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

  4.5 from 80 votes

#1

in Roaring Fork

#76

Overall
  4.5 from 80 votes
5 Star
59%
4 Star
31%
3 Star
9%
2 Star
1%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#1

in Roaring Fork

#76

Overall
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4,376 Since Sep 4, 2017
Intermediate

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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
View from the trail
May 28, 2022 near Gatlinburg, TN
View from the trail.
May 28, 2022 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

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Check-Ins

Nov 19, 2022
Kaylee Wong
Aug 31, 2022
Nick Bartlebaugh
Aug 29, 2022
B Palm
3.2mi
Aug 10, 2022
Lori Brown-Simmons
Jul 27, 2022
Brianna Coughlin
hiked grotto falls, it was absolutely beautiful and the water was so refreshing 2.6mi — 12h 00m
Jul 25, 2022
Megan Hermansen
Cool morning
Jul 21, 2022
Emily Utt
Jul 16, 2022
Nathalie Mejia
2.8mi — 1h 24m