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Grotto Falls Trail

MODERATE 685 reviews

Grotto Falls Trail is a 2.6 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Gatlinburg, Tennessee that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until November. Horses are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
2.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
534 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

kid friendly

hiking

horseback riding

nature trips

walking

bird watching

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

muddy

over grown

rocky

washed out

no dogs

Note: In winter, the road to the trailhead can be closed due to weather. In those cases, use this route: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/tennessee/trillium-gap-trail-to-grotto-falls An easy to moderate hike that is popular with families. The highlight is Grotto Falls, under which the trail continues. Accessed via the Trillium Gap Trailhead, this is a cool, well-shaded hike with gentle elevation gains. The only difficulties are numerous rocks and roots that just require you to watch your step.

hiking
2 days ago

Love, love this trail! It is rocky, but beautiful!

hiking
3 days ago

Really fun trail. We did this April 2018. This was my husband’s favorite hike in the park. It’s fun to go behind the waterfall and just sit on the rocks and enjoy the views. A lot of people reporting seeing bears in the morning the day that we hiked, but we didn’t see any this time!

7 days ago

The actual trail would be 5 stars but getting there was the unfun part. The road to trail was closed. Hiked up the paved road to trailhead. Something about being on the road makes it seem longer but the scenery is beautiful. Trail had lots of roots exposed and a few down trees that you have to go over and under. This makes it a fun trail. Water level was perfect (still pretty falls from recent rains but rescended enough for the crossings). Managed to not get feet wet at all. On the hike back to the road I saw the connecting trail that would go back down but I was fighting daylight because of the extra 2 mile walk and back so I took paved road back down. My knees didn't like the pounding on the pavement at the steep downhill inclines. Overall it was worth it but next time I will research connecting trails and give myself more time or just wait until the road is open!

hiking
muddy
rocky
8 days ago

Amazing trip! The roadway was closed when I went, but I was able to walk from the main lot and get to the waterfall in 90 minutes. It only added about 4 miles in all. Definitely will come back!

hiking
muddy
1 month ago

If you have not done this one, you should do it as soon as possible. We did it on a wet day with the clouds covering the mountain. Looked mystical the entire day. A lot of rain recently, so the waterfall was amazing. The road up to the parking area is closed in winter, so you either have to take the Trillium Gap trail up from Rainbow parking area, or walk the road up to the Grotto Falls trailhead. We walked the road up and took the trail back down. Adds a couple miles to the hike. Trail was a bit soaked in places, but passable.

hiking
1 month ago

Trail was in decent shape when we visited. Be prepared to get wet. My husband and I had no problems hiking this one but my mother who had knee surgery 2 months prior could not do it.

hiking
1 month ago

This was a nice hike. Nothing too spectacular but still worth it!

hiking
1 month ago

Nice hike through some really nice woods. Overall the trail is probably easy-moderately difficult. The waterfall activity before the top keeps you going and the big waterfall at the top is really nice. Trail had a few trees down that will need to be cleared and there were a few water crossings when we did the hike. We had light snowfall and some of the trail was snow covered. Overall we enjoyed the trail.

2 months ago

2/3 of the way is pretty basic. The last 1/3 was more fun. Stepping through and over more creeks, trees, rocks. The terrain became more intense. Once I reached the waterfall, the temperature had dropped and the rocks were iced over. It was beautiful, very private and reclusive.

hiking
2 months ago

Did this hike on the way to Mt LeConte. Falls were gorgeous and you're able to walk behind them. Went on a Monday in December so there were no worries of crowds whatsoever.

hiking
3 months ago

The road to the trailhead was closed when we attempted on 12/15/18.
I believe you can get to this trail by starting on the Rainbow Falls trailhead and branching off to the left for the Grotto Falls trail, but it’ll tack on another couple miles to your hike.
We ended up taking the Rainbow Falls trail instead since it was the same distance.

hiking
3 months ago

Wife & I did this hike after a day of heavy rain, and the falls were really pouring! Much heavier than in any of the photos we’d seen.
Also due to the rain, the several side stream crossings weren’t the easy rock hop they probably are under normal conditions. A couple of strategically placed footlogs – so common on other trails throughout the park – would be welcome here.
The trail was extremely muddy because of all the rain; even without the mud, this trail definitely shows signs of heavy use.
Encountered a young couple on the trail with their dog, and had to politely let them know that dogs aren’t allowed on most hiking trails within the park.
We were hoping to cross paths with the llama train, but no such luck.
As always, carry – and drink – plenty of water, and take some energy snacks (or lunch) to enjoy at the falls before heading back to the trailhead or on up to Le Conte Lodge. Even though much of this trail is shaded, sunscreen is never a bad idea. And bug spray is probably advisable during the warmer months.
Parking lot isn’t terribly large, so plan to arrive early or be prepared for a walk to the trailhead.

walking
3 months ago

We just hiked this trail on 11/23. There were 7 of us, 4 adults and 3 kids. It was definitely a fun trail. The falls were gorgeous. Lots of places for the kids to explore and climb. We turned back after the falls (the kids couldn't handle another 5 miles to LeConte).
Lots of roots and rocks but overall an easy hike. It was VERY muddy in some areas but nothing that a good pair of waterproof hiking boots couldn't handle.
The only thing was, with it being Thanksgiving week it was VERY crowded. Way too many people to the point where it was difficult to maneuver around everyone at the falls. I highly recommend this trail, just not during a heavy tourist season.

3 months ago

Easy and pretty

hiking
3 months ago

We loved this hike and you can walk behind the falls! We hiked it the day after Thanksgiving with our 8/11 yr old boys. We got there about 9:30 and it wasn’t too busy until we made our our way down, it took us just over two hours including time at the falls. You cross several small streams on the way up and the falls are gorgeous. There are numerous spots you have to walk over areas of roots which could be challenging for some but the trail has some great views of ridges and areas that are dense with rhododendrons along the sides of the path and hills which I’m sure are even more amazing when in bloom. We saw people of all ages on the hike so I’d rate it as easy but do recommend hiking boots as it can be muddy and wet. The drive out of the park was stunning and is worth the drive even if you don’t do the hike. You pass many smaller falls, cross single track bridges and pass Cade’s Cove I believe (we didn’t have time for this). We did Rainbow Falls a few days before which is about 5.6 miles in and out but the scenery on this hike is on par with Rainbow and shorter if pressed for time or not up for the longer uphill hike.

hiking
3 months ago

Easy trail filled with families and presumably first time hikers, AKA no hiking etiquette what so ever. Quick and easy to get to the waterfall, keep following the trail past the waterfall for peaceful hiking. I suggest doing this early am or before sunset to beat the crowds and ease of parking. Would not do again or recommend to friends

3 months ago

Very beautiful, not difficult, and good for kids. Bring extra socks and shoes as it gets muddy and slippery and your socks will get soaked. At least one bottle of water per person. Get there early like 7-8am or you won’t find parking.

hiking
3 months ago

great trail, a lot slippery though from the little river but the views and the end are well worth it

hiking
4 months ago

Nice hike. It was the only blue sky day of the week. We got to the parking area about 10:00 am and did find a parking spot. There is a bath room at the trail head. It was fairly busy to the falls. Easy to moderate. The falls is beautiful and it’s cool that the Trillium trail passes behind it. We had a snack there and continued up the trail another mile or so towards LeConte. Here, we were wonderfully alone. This trail is much less traveled. Only saw a group of 6 people coming down from the Lodge. The snow line started around 4000 ft. I found some neat ice needles forming in the mud at the base of some of the fallen tree roots. We turned around at a river crossing around 4500 ft. There are several turn of the century log homesteads on the motor trail that are interesting history to spend time at on your return to Gatlinburg.

4 months ago

What a wonderful trail A+++++

hiking
4 months ago

Beautiful hike, 10 mile round trip from Rainbow falls parking lot.

hiking
4 months ago

Beautiful hike this time of year! The GOLDEN canopy of fall foliage was.breathtaking.
The Gift at the end of the climb is walking behind the Falls. I captured some mesmerizing photos on the way back down at sunset looking over the mountains.
Great hike for ALL.

hiking
4 months ago

Easy hike, but really touristy. Perfect for kids and new hikers though! The falls are beautiful and you can go under them. I recommend continuing to Brushy Mtn (2mi further).

4 months ago

This is a moderate difficulty hike. Trail is well kept and beautiful at the top.

hiking
4 months ago

Went while raining which made streams and waterfall cool. Still there were a lot of people, it was a nice mix of rocks and trees on the path.

hiking
4 months ago

Definitely do on a weekday, no super crowded. Trekking poles are a good idea, slippery when wet. Waterfall was worth the trip. Parking limited

4 months ago

Beautiful hike that took about 3 hours total there and back with two young kids. The falls were pretty full bc of the recent rain but we were still able to walk behind the falls. The kiddos enjoyed hopping from rock to rock and jumping over roots.

4 months ago

This was a beautiful hike, we had our 2.5 yr old and 1 yr old and they loved it. The falls were amazing, the trail was a bit crowded and parking was the biggest challenge. At the top by the falls it was quite slippery which made wearing the kids a bit more difficult but worth it!

4 months ago

Hiked this with our three kids (8, 7, and 3 ( in a backpack carrier)). The kids absolutely loved the waterfall area. The trail was a moderate climb for our family with just a few spots that were challenging for the kids due to slippery conditions.

5 months ago

Loved this trail! Highly recommend for everyone :)

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