Grotto Falls trail is a family friendly hike in Great Smoky Mountains National Park that is under 3 miles round trip. The views are gorgeous, with at least 3 stream crossings along the way. The end point is the fabulous Grotto Falls which has the unique distinction of being the only waterfall in the Smokies that you are able to walk behind. It really doesn’t get cooler than that!
Of course, each family has its own unique needs. You know your family best, and are ultimately responsible for discerning the safety and appropriateness this hike. Please read our full disclaimer here.
Grotto Falls Hiking Trail in The Smoky Mountains
The trail is located along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, just outside of Gatlinburg. After you enter the driving trail, continue around the loop until you see the directional signs for Grotto Falls. Follow the signs to the designated parking area. Although there is no official picnic area, there are public restrooms, equip with hand sanitizer, in the parking lot.
For the majority of the trail, the ground is fairly level which makes the hike pleasant for both kids and adults. If your’re looking to work the glutes, this hike is not for you. When there is an incline, it tends to be gradual and relatively brief. If you do get tired, there are plenty of fallen trees along the path for resting. My soon-to-be-sister-in-law had my son in the carrier and only stopped a couple times.
Related Read: 15 Family Friendly Hikes In The Smoky Mountains
Throughout the trail, you will need to tread carefully, due to these really awesome blocks of tree roots that appear often. To date, I have never seen such large groupings of roots anywhere else, even in other states. They were truly visually stunning.
3 times during your travels, you will cross over a small stream. The level of difficulty varies at each location due to the variation in size and steadiness of the rocks. It will definitely be wise to more closely supervise your younger kids during these crossings and perhaps lend a helping hand.
As you approach the grand waterfall, you will pass a couple smaller cascades on the left. At this point, it starts to get a little rocky and the wet rocks are pretty slippery. Once you make it up to the main waterfall, you will notice that you can follow the rocky path all the way behind the falls. This is an excellent picture opportunity. It’s a popular trail, so there will always be someone around to take a family shot for you! We didn’t take the baby behind the falls, because it was cold and the waterfall splashes.
Related Read: Kid Friendly Smokies: Clingman’s Dome Summit Hike
PS Here is the bear we saw while driving to the hiking location! If you want to see a bear, always be on the lookout, no matter where you are! Happy hiking!
Be sure to check out all of our fun Smoky Mountain adventures!