The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States! It has some of the best hiking, fishing and wildlife viewing you'll find in the U.S. We're sharing the inside scoop with you so you can plan your next trip to the Smokies.
What to Expect Along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
- September 18, 2018
While many visitors to the Smoky Mountains know about visit the Cades Cove loop, there’s another motor nature trail that’s worth exploring, the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. This beautiful trail is located just minutes from Gatlinburg! Plus, it’s full of history and exciting sights to see! Keep reading to learn about what you can expect to come across on this motor trail:
About the Trail
To reach the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, turn off the main parkway in Gatlinburg at traffic light #8. Follow Historic Nature Trail Road to the Cherokee Orchard entrance to the national park. Just beyond the Rainbow Falls trailhead you will follow the one-way sign for Roaring Fork. From there the trail is 5.5 miles long one-way. The motor nature trail got its name from the river it follows. This is one of the largest and fastest rivers in the park. After a hard rain, if you visit the area, you will quickly see how the Roaring Fork got its name.
Before the Trail Starts
Before the official motor nature trail starts you will pass by Noah “Bud” Ogle’s cabin. A self-guiding nature trail here takes visitors on a walking tour of the old homestead. You will find Bud Ogle’s cabin, a tubmill, and a handcrafted wooden flume plumbing system. Beyond the cabin and up the road you will pass by the trailhead for Rainbow Falls. The hike to the waterfall is 5.4 miles round trip. The waterfall is 80 foot tall and when sunlight hits the water just right you can see the misty rainbow that bounces of the cascading water.
During the Trail
Once you turn on to the Roaring Fork Trail you have many opportunities to explore the area. The trail has two large pull offs that show off views of the Smoky Mountains. Moreover, other pull-offs offer visitors the chance to enjoy the river or to explore hiking trails.
- You will pass by Grotto Falls. This trail is 2.6 miles round trip. Grotto Falls is the only waterfall in the Smokies that you can walk behind!
- Later you will come by Baskins Creek Falls. This trail is 3.0 miles round trip. This is a beautiful 40 foot tall two-tiered waterfall.
- Finally, if you don’t like hiking, after heavy rains you can visit the Place of a Thousand Drips. Heavy rains cause this waterfall to split into multiple channels creating an incredibly mesmerizing look.
- Other features along this motor trail include old homesites, a watermill, and other historic areas.
Last but certainly not least to mention! You may get lucky while cruising around the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail and see some wildlife like bears and deer! This beautiful and magical area is well worth the gas and your time to enjoy the Smokies! If hiking isn’t your thing check out the other scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains you have to visit!