Grotto Falls

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

A short hike to a picturesque 25' waterfall that you can walk behind!

Hiking Moderate

Distance
4.1 km
Ascent
197 m
Descent
196 m
Duration
1-2 hrs
Low Point
970 m
High Point
1.1 km
Gradient
VIEW ON MAP
Grotto Falls Map

Description

Located near Gatlinburg, Grotto Falls is a 2.6-mile round trip hike to a stunning 25' waterfall that you can walk behind! According to the NPS, "the cool, moist environment near the falls is ideal for salamanders," and it makes an excellent summer hike for the entire family!

This out-and-back hike begins at stop #5 on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. There is a large parking area, though buses, RVs, trailers, and larger vehicles are prohibited on the road. It's also closed during the winter months, so plan this adventure during the summer heat so that you can cool off its refreshing water.

From the trailhead, look for the spur that leads to Trillium Gap Trail. At the junction, keep left, following the trail in a southeasterly direction. The trail actually runs behind the waterfall, making it difficult to get lost.

If you're planning a longer backpacking trip up to Mount LeConte, this is an excellent alternative to the popular Alum Cave Trail. After camping at the summit, you can return via Rainbow Falls Trail, another trail aptly named for the beautiful waterfall you'll visit along the way.

Source: https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/grotto-falls.htm

Difficulty

Moderate

Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.

Remoteness

2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

April, May, June, July, August, September, October

Features

  • Wildlife
  • Picturesque
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Family friendly
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area