Trillium Gap Trail to Grotto Falls

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Trillium Gap Trail to Grotto Falls is a 6.8 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 accessible year-round. Horses are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 6.8 miles Elevation Gain: 1,243 feet Route Type: Out & Back

kid friendly

hiking

horseback riding

nature trips

bird watching

running

forest

waterfall

wild flowers

muddy

rocky

no dogs

Note: Trillium Gap is only open Fri-Sun due to ongoing construction on the trail. Combined hiking and horseback riding trail leading to Mt. LeConte. Access to the trailhead is along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. This is a one-way loop road. Large vehicles (motor homes) and trailers are prohibited. Trillium Gap trail is rocky and has lots of tree roots in the trail. Grotto Falls is easier and more scenic. It's all uphill but worth the effort.

hiking
1 day ago

This trail merges with the much shorter Grotto Falls trail. If you do not want the extra 5 miles or so of forest hiking then just use the shorter trail directly there. This trail is well demarcated varying width with multiple stretches of root and rock path. Well shaded. Several navigable muddy areas. Several stream crossings. Unfortunately it runs along a road however the road noise was only intermittently intrusive. Limited distant views. The views coming back down to the trailhead seemed much more interesting than the way up.

hiking
rocky
18 days ago

The falls are really nice and you can walk behind them. Went on a Friday late morning and was one of the few people there. The trail in and out is just ok, lots of rocks and tree roots on the trail so watch your step.

hiking
blowdown
4 months ago

I wasn’t able to finish this trail. I started out and the weather was in the low 50s and rainy. However once I was a quarter of a mile in, the winds picked up to 40-50mph! trees were creaking and blowing so hard I got nervous one may crack and fall. The higher elevation I got, the worse the winds got. I decided to turn around but am anxious to go back to do the whole trail on a nicer day. They’re currently doing work during the week on the trail because there’s so many down trees. There’s quite a few you have to step over on the trail. However the trail is beautifully wooded and you feel completely in nature. I recommend this trail on a nicer less windy day for sure!

hiking
8 months ago

Absolutely love these falls!! Possibly my favorite in the Smokies. The trail is nice with a decent incline. There are smaller falls along the way. Beautiful place to spend some quiet time but it does get crowded at times.

Uphill almost the whole way, but not overly strenuous. Terrain is definitely uneven, have to pay attention to where you are stepping.

hiking
muddy
9 months ago

I would recommend this trail to anyone who is adventurous. Most of this trail is muddy and full of tree roots and that I love!! If you are trying to reach the Grotto Falls then take the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail and then follow the Trillium Gap trailhead to reach Grotto Falls. A round trip hike to Grotto Falls measures 2.6 miles and generally takes the average hiker about 2-3 hours. Enjoy the beautiful nature and the scenic landscape. Always wear the right shoes and gear. Always take a sweater or rain jacket simply because once you reach the top it is cooler. Awesome hike!

hiking
9 months ago

We took this trail down from Mt. Le Conte. There was not much to see and all the loose rock made it a little slower of a hike. We did pass the llama train, which was kind of neat to see. Grotto Falls is a nice area where you walk behind the falls. It was nice to do once, but I wouldn't take this trail again.

hiking
muddy
rocky
9 months ago

Trail was fun and scenic. First couple miles was nice and quiet. Last mile+ was overly crowded. Falls was so crowded it was not very enjoyable. Had a bear encounter on way back near the parking lot. That was exciting.

hiking
10 months ago

Made this trip with family, kids, grandchildren, and in-laws. Great hike. Love the area. Always beautiful did see a black bear sow with cub.

hiking
11 months ago

hiked with family. 6 of us. took 13 hrs but we did it. even saw the lama train

hiking
bugs
Sun May 26 2019

GREAT little trail! The falls were a bit "slow" compared to pics from other times of the year, but it was still WELL worth the hike. Moderately easy trail, mostly gradual incline the entire 1,200+ elevation gain. Only drawback to this trail is the sections with exposed roots in the path...for those of us who habitually drag their feet a little. I stumbled about a dozen times! Didn't see any wildlife except for a single chipmunk....and a fairly large ironworm! LOTS of people on the trail but it IS a holiday weekend...didn't distract from the beauty of the place at all. I had wanted to get to Grotto for years and just never made it over there. Go! You won't be disappointed.

hiking
Fri May 10 2019

The falls and trail is pretty, but the the traffic noise from the parallel road is distracting from the beauty. We saw several deers and even a wild turkey.

Mon Apr 29 2019

Stunning! Well worth the leg workout! Got some good pictures!

hiking
Sat Mar 30 2019

Nice moderate trail Took this to grotto falls. Took a couple hours

hiking
Wed Jan 02 2019

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
Mon Nov 05 2018

Fun trail that adds some length and has beautiful fall leaf colors! Only real downfall is that it winds along with the road so most of the trail you see vehicles.

hiking
Fri Aug 24 2018

I'd rate this trail as very easy, slight uphill and very few obstacles. My family took this trail from the Rainbow Falls entrance up to Grotto Falls and then back. The trail follows the road for quite a while which was disappointing and fairly loud. The better part of the hike was the last 1.5 miles past the Grotto Falls parking lot, where you get away from car traffic (but expect to encounter much more family traffic). Rainbow Falls was closed, otherwise we would have continued along the Mt LeConte path and would have enjoyed something more challenging. This hike, as my family is calling it, is basically a nice long walk. If you're set on seeing Grotto and enjoy a good hike I'd recommend taking the shorter hike over following the full trail. I wore La Sportiva mountain shoes, which made crossing mini-creeks and walking along the falls very easy.

hiking
Thu Aug 16 2018

An easy hike. A lot of tree roots stick above the ground.

hiking
Thu May 31 2018

This trail is not easy, but it was lovely! We took it all the way to Mount LeConte to stay the night at the top, and it was a wonderful experience. If you’re going all the way to the top, we heard that it rained often, and when we went in July last year, it rained about 80% of our hike! Be sure to wear good hiking boots (with extra socks!) and bring a hiking pole, as the majority of the hike is uphill. This is the trail the llamas take to/from Mount LeConte, so you might pass some on your way up/down :) there was also a small waterfall about 1.5 miles in that was a nice resting stop! Overall, a beautiful hike and an AMAZING view at the top, if you choose to go the full 6.7 miles :)

hiking
Wed May 16 2018

I started at the Rainbow Falls Trailhead and took the Trillium Gap Trail almost all the way to Mt LeConte before making the trek back to my car. This trail will definitely get your heart rate up! It is uphill 90-95% of the time. Starts out with just some small tree roots as obstacles, but you definitely have to work your way around/over large rocks and larger roots as you get closer to Grotto Falls. A walking stick (or two) is a must, as are good hiking shoes. There are a few small creeks to cross, but nothing deep or difficult. I was the only one on the trail from the trailhead until about a mile before the Falls, where there was a steady stream of people going to and from the Falls from a nearby parking lot. I did see two black bears and a handful of wild turkeys within the first two miles on the TG trail. Very little wildlife otherwise (besides tons of flies & mosquitos - bring bug repellant for sure!). It was my first time hiking, and even though I had physically prepared for it, I was definitely very sore the next day.

hiking
Tue Apr 17 2018

Moderate may be a conservative classification of this trail, but a great trail nonetheless. The trail is well marked. Between the trailhead and the Grotto Falls Trail, the trail is lightly trafficked. The Grotto Falls portion of the trail is highly trafficked. We were fortunate to arrive at the end of a cold snap, so there was still a lot of snow on our trail. It was a beautiful reminder of what nature offers.

Sun Apr 15 2018

Trail was pretty with blooming trillium. However, this trail runs along with the road which made it very noisy.

Mon Apr 02 2018

Very pretty trail! We found the Grotto Falls hike to be very heavily trafficked and often had to wait a few minutes to cross small puddles or streams. We came in a bit late on Trillium Gap so we ended up doing 6.2 miles total. It took us 3.5 hours. We had 2-6 year olds and a 9-year old and they did just fine...sans falling on a couple of roots!! Overall it was great and I would def recommend it!

hiking
Fri Mar 09 2018

Definitely more than a moderate trail in my opinion. Trillium Gap was easy enough but Grotto Falls was a HIKE. It was definitely worth it and I got some amazing photos and being able to go behind a waterfall and look in all those perfectly clear pools is incredible but just be prepared for lots and lots of uphill climbs, lots of water over the paths (lots of muck too), and lots of shade in the afternoons which makes the temperature drop REAL quick so layer accordingly. We did see 4 deer just chilling on the trillium gap trail and we got pretty dang close for some awesome photos. All in all it was great, and I would do it again but with a lighter pack, more food/Gatorade, and more layers.

Sat Jan 20 2018

Nigga

Fri Dec 22 2017

It took us to get use to the altitude, this was our first mountain hike. It was beautiful, not to hard to hike. Took us about 5 hours; we took our time. The path crosses several streams and creeks; might need waterproof shoes. Grotto Falls is beautiful! It was worth the trip; you can walk behind the waterfall!

hiking
Mon Sep 18 2017

My husband and I started the Trillium Gap Trail at the Rainbow Falls trailhead. It is possible to get to Grotto Falls by accessing Trillium Gap at different points along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail that are much closer to the Falls. If your plan is only to see Grotto Falls and not spend a long time hiking, follow the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail until you see a sign indicating parking for Grotto Falls. It's a breeze from there. If you start the trail where it meets the Rainbow Falls trailhead, it is near 8 miles. Our hike time was about 5 1/2 hours. The trail is moderate with moments that are more strenuous due to tricky tree roots, some pretty steep inclines, and wet stones especially near the Falls; bring good hiking shoes. Keep in mind, the trail it is not marked save a couple of trailhead markers (e.g. Baskin's Creek), but none along the trail. Once you near the Falls, you begin to hear the power of the water. You can go behind the Falls and feel the water rush over boulders. We had lunch on the rocks while watching the water. If you plan on resting there for a while or going behind the Falls, I suggest bringing a rain jacket; the temperature drop is significant. While Grotto Falls is not a very large waterfall, it is gorgeous and well worth the long trek.

hiking
Mon Jul 24 2017

We hiked this trail to return to our car at the Rainbow Falls parking area after a great hike and evening atop Mt. LeConte. The section between the Grotto Falls parking area and Grotto Falls was a zoo, even on a Monday. But once we got on the trail that parallels the one-way Roaring Fork Motor tour, it was pretty much just us. The falls were absolutely beautiful and the quieter section with some gentle ups and downs between the parking areas featured some deer and pileated woodpeckers! The Rainbow to LeConte to Trillium back to the Rainbow parking area is a great loop.

Thu Apr 13 2017

good hike, nice falls, keep going to next set of falls about 2 miles past grotto falls. recommend this hike, and nice drive to get to from trailhead

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