“One of the few waterfalls you can hike behind in the Smokies.”
— Michael Flanigan
Roaring Fork Motor Trail is closed during the winter. Check the NPS site for road closures to make sure that the road is open.
A fun and relatively easy hike that can be enjoyed by the entire family.
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.
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.