Grotto Falls

Gatlinburg, Tennessee 37738

Grotto Falls

Grotto Falls Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"Grotto Falls is appropriately named. Roaring Fork spills from an overhanging ledge some 20 feet into a small pool, creating a dry space behind the falls for the trail to pass.

The waterfall is lovely and makes a terrific photo subject. Postcard racks in Gatlinburg hold many different scenes of the falls. The hike to Grotto Falls is among the most popular in the park. Expect lots of company and get to the trailhead early if you want a parking space."

More Grotto Falls Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Best Easy Day Hikes: Great Smoky Mountains National Park - 2nd Edition (Falcon Guides)
Randy Johnson
View more trails from this guide book
"Grotto Falls is a place where anyone can experience the cinema fantasy of standing behind a waterfall (though don’t expect to be completely hidden back here). Grotto Falls shoots off a semicircular ledge, and the trail artfully swings behind and below the cascade. Leave the lot amid a verdant old- growth forest of towering hemlocks now suffering from the park’s infestation of the hemlock woolly adelgid. Go left (southeast) at the junction on the Trillium Gap Trail, 0.2 mile above the parking area. As the trail winds higher, it rises gradually through mature cove hardwood forest and delves into, then out of, the first stream crossing." Read more

Grotto Falls Reviews

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8/18/2018
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1/27/2018
Enjoyed our hike even in the cold rain. It does add several miles to your hike if you choose to do this one during the parks winter hours when Roaring Fork road is closed. My GPS clocked us at 8 miles round trip from the closed gate at Roaring Fork, onto Trillium Gap trail and on to the Falls and back. Took us longer due to rain and very slick/muddy conditions but we had a good time.
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7/16/2013
amazing little hike, not to hard. Had a great time hiking to the falls. Grotto Falls the only falls in the smoky mountains you can walk behind.....so im told.
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6/17/2009
the was very easy it only toke me 20 minutes to get to the top...th fall was nice but because it was a much esier hike it was packed with people. after you climb the falls you can walk the creek wich was th best part f the whole trip.
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11/21/2008
My wife, my kids (11 & 14) and I hiked during a cold day, 20 degrees at bottom and 5 degress at top. We made good time for the first 3 miles, but really slowed down at the top. It took us 5 hours to get to Leconte Lodge, which is where we spent the night. We're not experienced hikers, so we were pretty wiped out at the end. However, Grotto Falls was nice, and we were able to see the llamas as they were making their way back down. The trail was well marked/traveled, so we were always comfortable we were on the right trek, which was important to us given the cold temperatures. We definitely want to come back and try in the spring or fall.
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11/17/2008
This is the most enjoyable/rewarding hike yet for me. On the day I, my son and a friend went there were 8 - 12 inches of snow on the trail in the higher elevations. This made for some spectacular backdrops while hiking. The trail is wide and easily hiked even with the snow. Take a little extra care and a hiking stick. The grade is gentle and allows for a steady but slower pace than normal. The last mile leading to the Lodge is the steepest but once you've gotten that far there is no thinking of turning back. Be sure to leave early enough to make it back down before the sun drops behind the ridge. Great day hike.
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5/26/2006
This is a great hike for younger children who may tire easily on a longer or more strenuous trail. The key is to get there early before the crowds come. The 3 boys on our trip (ages 6, 8, and 9) enjoyed hunting for salamanders, slugs, centipedes, llama tracks, and bear tracks. Of course, the waterfall is also a great highlight.
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9/25/2005
This review may be inappropriately placed as I only hiked to Grotto Falls but since it's part of a larger trail, it's the only place to mention it! :-) Even if the idea of the entire Mt. LeConte trail intimidates you, at least make the effort to go to Grotto Falls! As far as I know, there are 2 trailheads for it: 1 near the trailhead for Mt LeConte via Rainbow Falls, and a 2nd further down the Roaring Fork Motor Trail. I chose the 2nd as it puts you only 1+ miles out from Grotto and I had a late start. The trail is similar to the almost too-popular Laurel Falls in grade and the fact that it hugs the mountain on one side and drops off sharply on the other. However, for all the cars in the parking area, my trip was mostly quiet and even secluded at times! The forest growth is thicker and lack of paving adds to the feel of being on a normal trail. Weeks of dry weather reduced the flow of the falls, as well as several small cascades that cross the trail but based on other photos I've seen, and my personal enjoyment of this trail, I'll definitely be back.
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Grotto Falls Photos

Trail Information

Gatlinburg
Nearby City
2.6
Distance
Loop/Lollipop
Trail Type
Moderate
Skill Level
2 hours
Duration
The access road (Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail) is closed Dec 1–Mar 31.
Season
Hiking
Additional Use
Waterfalls, Views
Features
Mount LeConte USGS quad; Trails Illustrated #229 Great Smoky Mountains; Trails Illustrated #317 Clingmans Dome Cataloochee
Local Maps