Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Roaring Fork Motor Trail

Welcome back to National Parks and other public lands with T!

Great Smoky Mountains National Park has a few scenic drives from which you can explore the park. The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is  approximately 6 miles of narrow, winding road. It is one-way, just outside Gatlinburg.


The trail-head for the popular Rainbow Falls hike is at the beginning of this road. We stopped there, but saw that the hike was over five miles. It was a hot, humid afternoon and we weren’t really up to that challenge.


A little further along the loop, we parked at the Trillium Gap trail-head to take the shorter hike to Grotto Falls. It is 1.5 miles from the trail-head to the falls. It is steep and rocky in places.


At the top of the Grotto Falls hike, the falls cascade over a rock shelf.  This creates a ledge behind the waterfall. We walked behind the falls and cooled off in the spray.

Great Smoky Mountain Posts

Location: Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Designation: National Park
Date designated/established: September 2, 1940
Date of my visit: August 2013