Grotto Falls
June 26, 2023

The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is an exciting destination that features the stunning natural beauty of the Smokies, including some spectacular waterfalls! This popular one way loop road runs for 5.5 miles and offers several waterfalls hikes through the forest, as well as one waterfall where you don’t even need to get out of your car! Here are 4 beautiful waterfalls along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.

1. Rainbow Falls

rainbow falls

The Rainbow Falls Trail is situated near the start after the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail and you’ll find the trailhead just beyond Noah “Bud” Ogle’s cabin. The hike to the falls is 5.4 miles roundtrip and is considered moderately strenuous, as you’ll gain about 1,500 feet in elevation on the way to the falls. The awesome news is that you’ll be well rewarded once you see Rainbow Falls in person! The 80 foot tall waterfall gets its name from a rainbow that is produced through the mist on sunny afternoons, but you can rest assured that it’s a magnificent sight on cloudy days too!

2. Grotto Falls

Grotto Falls is the only waterfall in Great Smoky Mountains National Park that you can actually walk behind, so you won’t want to miss this 2.6 round trip hike! The Trillium Gap Trail leading to Grotto Falls meanders through an old-growth hemlock forest, where you’ll experience views of vibrant foliage such as large hemlock trees and a variety of wildflowers. Before long, you’ll hear the soothing sounds of the falling water in the distance to beckon you forward! While at Grotto Falls, take a stroll behind the thunderous power of the waterfall and keep your eyes open for a salamander or two!

3. Baskin Creek Falls

A beautiful waterfall flows over rocks on a scenic hiking trail.

Another one of the beautiful waterfalls along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is Baskin Creek Falls, which requires a 3 mile round trip hike from the trailhead. The trail is mostly downhill on the way to the falls, but remember that you’ll want to save some energy for hiking back uphill to your car! Baskin Falls is a lovely two-tiered, 40-foot tall waterfall that cascades down the rock face, so it is well worth the challenge of the return hike! While it is not the largest or most powerful waterfall in the Smokies, it’s a delightful place for a snack or a picnic!

4. Place of a Thousand Drips

For those not into hiking, you’ll be happy to know that there is a waterfall right along Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail called the Place of a Thousand Drips! This is a low flow waterfall that can be seen right from your vehicle and provides the perfect finale to your drive along the loop road! The waterfall comes out of high rocks and a small cave before it cascades down about 20 to 30 feet. Due to the small amount of water that flows over the falls, you’ll find that the Place of a Thousand Drips is quite a fitting name!

As you can see, the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail features some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Great Smoky Mountains National Park! If you enjoyed the easy roadside access to a Place of a Thousand Drips, learn about some of the other roadside waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains that you can’t miss!