Grotto Falls Great Smoky Mountains National Park
While we were visiting Gatlingburg, TN earlier this month we decided to head out on a hike at Grotto Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This is classified as a “moderate” hike, and it’s about 3 miles round trip. It takes about 2-3 hours to hike to the waterfall and back. Grotto Falls is accessible via Trillium Gap Trail.
Tip: before heading to Grotto Falls check for road closures and current weather conditions over on the National Park Service website.
One of the reasons I suggest checking the trail closures is because the trail is closed at the time of publication, but subject to reopen as soon as the trail conditions improve. When we hiked to Grotto Falls on June 8th, our hike back down from the falls was really scary. It was raining super hard and the mud on trail became extremely slippery. I even shared a photo over on Instagram after I successfully climbed back down. At many parts of the hike down we slid out on our behinds. SO I can definitely understand why the Trillium Gap Trail would currently be closed due to weather and unsafe trail conditions. If you’re reading this long after publication date, you can check the Smokies NPS Twitter account for real time road closure updates.
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I share a LOT of well curated and posed photos here…but this one is different. I am a mess 🤣 but let me tell you one thing, this is the most fun I’ve had in a longggg time. If you’ve never hiked through the Smokies to a waterfall, and back down in the pouring rain, and slid down the mountain mud on your butt….are you even living?? 🤣🏔🤘🏻 this is the “after” – can’t wait to share more when I can! . . . #greatsmokymountains #smokymountains #smokymountainsnationalpark #grottofalls #chasinghappiness #chasingwaterfalls #livingmybestlife #summerbucketlist #summervacation #familyvacation #hotmessexpress #hikingadventures #mountains #mountainlover #hikingday #gatlinburg #gatlinburgtennessee #wildlycharmed #wildlycharmedsummer
The hike itself wasn’t too bad. Our three boys easily made it up to Grotto Falls. It’s mostly easy terrain to hike. This is a good hike for those getting into hiking and for families. However, Trillium Gap Trail is not a paved trail, so is not for larger hiking groups or children in strollers. Kids should be able to walk on their own or you can also wear little ones in a hiking backpack.
There are some streams along the way, some that run across the trail. You can hop over them or walk right through them like our boys did!
Once you make it up to the top of Trillium Gap Trail and reach Grotto Falls you’re actually able to walk behind the waterfall! Fun fact: It’s the only waterfall in Great Smoky Mountains National Park that a person can walk behind. It is very slippery and people have fallen to their deaths by attempting to climb the waterfall. Do not try to climb or jump from the waterfall.
We did wade in the water away from the waterfall, and it was a lot of fun for the kids to cool off after the hike.
I recommend bringing snacks and plenty of drinking water since this is a few hour hike.
You can watch our exciting adventure at Grotto Falls here:
Hiking gear I recommend: