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blue Grotto Falls

  4.5 ( 31 ) Favorite

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2.6 mile 4.2 kilometer loop


Ascent: 515' 157 m
Descent: -516' -157 m
High: 3,690' 1,125 m
Low: 3,174' 968 m


Avg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 20% (11°)


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Trail shared by Michael Flanigan

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

Michael Flanigan

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.


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


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.


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May 25, 2019
David Pierson
Crowded today but a nice way to beat the heat.
May 18, 2019
Michael Ridener
12h 00m
Apr 25, 2019
Kim Scalamandre-Lee
Mar 12, 2019
Mar 12, 2019
Shane Autrey
Parked at Rainbow falls trail lot. Had 8yr old and a not feeling so well 4 yr old. We had to take shifts carrying the 4 yr old. Made it though! 8mi — 5h 20m
Feb 26, 2019
Brenda Navarro
Motor Trail was closed. Walk to the trail is 3 miles or so. The walk on the trail from the trailhead is 1.4 miles. Downed trees but totally worth it.
Jan 27, 2019
Brayden Wilkerson
Went with Jada and Mikiah, really cold but fun to see all the ice and snow.
Jan 7, 2019
Thomas Mcadorey
started off from rainbow falls trailhead 2.6mi

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 31 votes


in Roaring Fork


  4.5 from 31 votes
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