Hiking to Grotto Falls is a unique experience as it’s the only waterfall in the Smokies you can stand behind. Plus, the location of Grotto Falls trail is minutes out of Gatlinburg off the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, so make it the first stop on a day trip into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Ready to learn more about hiking to Grotto Falls? Read on.
To access the trailhead for the Grotto Falls trail, turn onto Historic Nature Trail/Airport Road at Traffic Light #8 in downtown Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Make your way to Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. The parking lot for the trail is located on the left-hand side of the road, about 5 miles from Traffic Light #8.
The length of the hike is relatively short–2.6 miles roundtrip–and is considered an easy one as the elevations gains are minimal. To reach Grotto Falls you’ll follow the Trillium Gap Trail for most of the way. Many large hemlock trees can be seen during this hike, which meanders through a beautiful old-growth forest. Well-worn and easy to follow, the trail to the falls crosses four small streams (without any foot bridges) so be sure to wear waterproof shoes. Around mile 1.2 hikers will notice a small cascade, with Grotto Falls coming into view just beyond this point.
Once you reach Grotto Falls, climb behind the waterfall and bask in the shady and cool retreat the waterfall provides. Tumbling 25-feet, the falls are an enjoyable place to visit not only for the views but for the exploration available. Where else can you walk behind a waterfall and enjoy the perspective from the other side? It truly is a unique experience and well worth the short hike.
If you visit in May, you’re in for a real treat. A variety of wildflowers will be in bloom, including white violets, yellow trillium and Dutchman’s breeches.
Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Gatlinburg to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.