Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

MODERATE 67 reviews

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is a 10.5 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Gatlinburg, Tennessee that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until November.

10.5 miles
2454 feet
Out & Back

kid friendly



mountain biking

nature trips

road biking

scenic driving




wild flowers


no dogs

To access Roaring Fork, turn off the main parkway in Gatlinburg, TN at traffic light #8 and follow Historic Nature Trail Road to the Cherokee Orchard entrance to the national park. Just beyond the Rainbow Falls trailhead you have the option of taking the one-way Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail (clos

scenic driving
5 days ago

My review is from the perspective of an amateur landscape photographer

First I did this as a scenic drive. The Roaring Fork Nature Trail is one of the highlights of the GSMNP. I been at least 4 times. There are abundant wildflowers thru the month of April. There are scenic cabins. There are 4-5 pullouts with scenic creeks/rivers. And there is one scenic view of the mountains.

The only downside is the the road is VERY busy after Memorial Day and it’s also narrow. You can only park at the pull offs and sometimes that means you’ll need to walk back to the photo you want.

19 days ago

Hiked up this road before it was opened for the season. Only saw a few folks. If going from Ely's Mill, the first 2-3 miles can be steep, but it's all paved and you can take a breather at one of the many beautiful falls. At the Thousand Drips waterfall, my young son climbed up into an deep alcove. We really enjoyed this hike.

Note that we did get a report of bears crossing the path ahead of us, but they were gone when we passed by.

3 months ago

Beautiful trail

scenic driving
5 months ago

This really is a great drive for all ages, but especially for those with kids. It's a fun way to see a good portion of the park, with a really nice paved one-way path.

We stopped and did a 3 hour hike on one of the many trailheads that are accessible on the road, and there are also many scenic spots as well as historic houses and farms to stop and get out at. Be sure to keep your eyes open the entire way - we saw a young black bear on a hill right next to the road!

5 months ago

really great. enjoyed every minute of it

5 months ago

This is a great motor trail. Lots of wildlife and places to pull over to take pics.

scenic driving
6 months ago

Very historical drive-cool cabins.

7 months ago

Wonderful motor trail. There are several points that you can stop along the way and explore, and that made it even more worthwhile!

8 months ago

Great trail! You drive this one though, so don't be confused and think it's a hike. You can pull off and do conventional hikes around it if you'd like as well. This is a one way road through a more secluded area of the park. If you go around 6 o'clock, it's a great opportunity to see bears. We saw 5 on our trip. Just drive slow and be on the lookout and you're bound to see something neat! Great for an end of the day activity once you're tired from hiking all day.

scenic driving
8 months ago

Great little loop close to downtown. Saw some deer and 4 bears! Plenty of places to stop and get out and see things.

8 months ago

We actually hiked a bit of the auto trail. Gorgeous. Gorgeous. Gorgeous. Wish we had seen a place to get closer to the creek.

scenic driving
9 months ago

Roaring Fork Auto Tour is a nice one-way drive starting just after the Rainbow Falls trailhead with pullouts to enjoy waterfalls, historic sites, views, rhododendron and other flowers and plants, and places to just chill and get back to nature. We saw evidence of the Gatlinburg fires and saw rejuvenation as well. We visited a roadside tub mill where they used to grind corn into meal, as well as a medium waterfall called the Place of the Thousand Drips. Saw a deer as well as some wild turkeys, and later on some pileated woodpeckers - three of them! Enjoy the ride and don't forget to stop and experience GSMNP.

scenic driving
10 months ago

still lots of fire damage but the cabins and old farm were nice

10 months ago

Many different levels of trails to hike or you can just stay in your car! Many places to park and get out to take pictures. When there are many cars it can take awhile to drive through so keep that in mind and be patient.

11 months ago

Amazing hike! Not an easy hike, did see a snake. But the waterfall at the top is worth it! You can actually walk behind it! Lots of little places to stop and see along the way too. Beautiful ride through the great smokey mountains. A must do for anyone who loves the outdoors!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Beautiful!! a place to come back to over and over indeed. Not easy, but very worth the trek.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

some beautiful waterfalls and scenery

Thursday, January 12, 2017


scenic driving
Thursday, December 01, 2016

A nice driving trail that takes you through some of the wonderful beauty of the smokies!!!

scenic driving
Monday, November 21, 2016

Great scenic family drive!

scenic driving
Monday, November 14, 2016

This is as nice as drive as you will find south of the Kangamangus (spelling) in New Hampshire.

scenic driving
Monday, November 14, 2016

Scott said it beautifully. This is a chance to be out in the woods from your car.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Good drive for family

scenic driving
Saturday, September 10, 2016

Slow going on the ten mile paved one-lane road back into Gatlinburg...but isn't that the point? The forest is so close at times you feel like you can touch it out of both sides of the vehicle. As others have said, there are plenty of places to pull over for exploring. And Roaring Fork is aptly named. Be sure to have the windows down to enjoy the sounds of the mountain woods...particularly the rushing water most of the way back. This was the perfect ending for me after a wonderful warm summer day hiking throughout GSMNP!

off road driving
Friday, August 05, 2016

Very nice except for the truck that broke down ahead of us. There were app 150 cars stuck at the thousand drips waterfall.

scenic driving
Tuesday, July 12, 2016

When it got dark around 9pm, towards the very end we saw a 4 to 5 ft long and about 3 ft tall black bear in the woods right next to us. He then crossed about 5 to 10 ft in front of us. Thankfully we were in our car!

scenic driving
Friday, July 01, 2016

Other than being very crowded and having a difficult time getting around all the parked cars, it was absolutely breath taking. Beautiful scenery plus wildlife and mountain laurels blooming everywhere. God's beautiful creation. He's good all the time and all the time He's good.

Sunday, June 26, 2016


Saturday, June 18, 2016

Although this is a motor trail-there are plenty of pull off points to stop and explore and "free hike". Hardly any traffic and very quiet. Lots of old growth and huge trees. Very pretty and enjoyable.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

It is a driving trail but well worth stopping often and wandering into the woods and exploring. The moss on the rocks are an iridescent green and result in great pictures. Provides an easily available cross section of scenic views, waterfalls, woods and solitude for those that can't or won't hike the mountains.

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