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Great for fall color

This is a 5.5 mile narrow, one-way road through the Smoky Mountains National Park which goes past... read more

Reviewed 2 days ago
travelerfromsj
,
San Jose, California
Beautiful, as always!!

We go to the area several times a year, and always try to get up to see the nature trail. It's only... read more

Reviewed 4 days ago
markbO6129CG
via mobile
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All reviews grotto falls beautiful drive roaring fork motor nature trail cades cove narrow road downtown gatlinburg beautiful scenery single lane take pictures short drive many places rainy day both sides take your time speed limit pull over
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Reviewed 2 days ago

This is a 5.5 mile narrow, one-way road through the Smoky Mountains National Park which goes past streams, views, historic buildings, and trails. It’s very close to Gatlinburg, and supposedly less crowded than the Cades Cove Motor Trail. There are 15 markers or stops along the road which are described in a booklet you can buy for one dollar at the Sugarlands Visitor Center before you go.

As you drive towards Roaring Fork, the Noah Bud Ogle Place will show up on your right beforehand, and it’s worth a quick stop there to see the old house and barn. This is followed by parking for the Rainbow Falls trailhead, and then the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail itself. We did not stop at all 15 markers, but here are my quick impressions:

-Stops #1 and #3- scenic views of hills covered in colorful red, orange, and gold trees. The best stops for fall color.
- Stop #5- trailhead for Trillium Gap Trail and Grotto Falls
- Stops #10, #11, #12- historic buildings: Jim Bales’ place, Ephraim Bales’ place, and the Reagan Place. The Bales’ cabins were similar to the Ogle cabin; the Reagan house was more updated.
- Stop #15- The Place of a Thousand Drips, a cluster of tiny, pretty waterfalls along a cliff on the left.

Parking can be difficult, and there’s no turning around, but the road is well paved and easy to drive. I didn’t see parking for stops #4 and #6, and missed some markers entirely (#13 and #14).

This drive combined with a hike up to Grotto Falls is a great way to spend a morning in the park.

Thank travelerfromsj
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 4 days ago

Strenuous climb - at best - up 1.8 miles as the crow flies to Grotto Falls. From Gatlinburg there is a 2 mile bumper-to-bumper crawl up the mountain to the main parking area. This means 1st gear only for bikers, stop-and-go. The ride down 2 miles is the same - stuck in 1st gear to save your brakes. We burnt out a clutch plate in this trek. Falls were pretty but expensive in the long run. 1000 Drops falls is gorgeous. Easy to miss, though, if you're not watching closely towards the end.

Thank Tony B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 4 days ago via mobile

We go to the area several times a year, and always try to get up to see the nature trail. It's only about 3 miles from Gatlinburg, and always enjoy going.

There are beautiful trails to hike. Some are for the experienced hiker, some would be suitable for most. If you're not a hiker, but love to see the beauty of nature, they have that also.

They are still working in some of the areas recovering from the fires from 2 years ago. So, many of the trails are closed Monday through Thursday, unless it's a National Holiday.

We have seen several black bears in their natural habitat. We saw a Mona bear and her 2 small cubs this trip.
As a reminder, do not engage the wildlife, and absolutely do not feed them!!

Thank markbO6129CG
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 4 days ago

We saw that this was the #2 thing to do in the Smoky Mountains National Park. So we saved it for a cold fall morning as we were traveling through the area. The leaves were about half fallen when we made our way down this motorized single lane trail. It took us a little over an hour to traverse the winding hilly road. There are points that one wrong turn would be hazardous. But the breathtaking beauty you will find was worth the thrill (especially during the fall). We will make this an annual pilgrimage when we are in the area. Minimal investment in time and resources for an amazing return.

There are a couple of vista vantage points that was amazing. The road following a creek that has waterfalls and lots of white water offers additional picturesque beauty. This is a busy place. The posted speed limit is 10 mph. The traffic dictates you will go slower at times. Do not go here in a hurry. You will be quite frustrated. Take your time and enjoy each new visual stimulant.

This is a must when at Gatlinburg. Just Do It!

Thank wetravelalot007
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 1 week ago

Breathtaking scenery. We visited Nov. 5th and I believe it was PEAK leaf looking. We did not see any bears (although our friends did), but the views were amazing. It was deep in the woods majesty. Loved the sounds of the babbling brooks.

Thank annU9647FG
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 1 week ago

Not as much touristy stuff makes this a nice option to Cades Cove. Lots of good trailheads on this route. Still crowded, but that comes with this area.

Thank Heidelberg_Mike
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 2 weeks ago

After hiking up to one of the waterfalls, we've decided to take something "easy". And it was the right decision. The trail was great. A little bit of driving, getting out, taking pictures and enjoying the area. I recommend this trial for everybody.

RomanP

1  Thank romanpiekosz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 2 weeks ago

We were told about this by the hotel we were staying at when we mentioned wanting to do Cades Cove. She suggested this as a much less crowded adventure.
This is a one way trip and is simply beautiful. We hit the trail around 8 in the morning and there were not many people out yet.
We were only moments into the park and got to see a bear on the side of the road without a care in the world munching on breakfast.
There are spots to pull over and park which I would suggest you stop at each one. We passed several spots that didn't look interesting until we had passed them and there is no going back.
We got out and did a lot of walking and it was so quiet and peaceful. The only downfall was the Rainbow Falls trail was closed for maintenance.
Definitely would suggest this trail if you're up for a slower paced trip through the Smokey Mountains.

5  Thank Amy R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 2 weeks ago

Most people do not know that this beautiful drive is right in the heart of Gatlinburg City, proper. Turn at light 8 ( only one way to turn) and follow the road. Beautiful scenery and many trails to use.

1  Thank DSMLVR
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 2 weeks ago

It's so much fun. Lots of stop offs that are all different so you get to see a variety of things. Don't miss the first stop like we did for the first set of cabins. They looked so cool. But it was too late to stop and turn around by the time we realized that was what the first parking lot was for. But the road becomes one way and no other places to park and walk back so we missed it. I wish the stops were better marked with what they are so you know if you want to park before you pass by. But still..didn't detract from fun. I suggest going in the fall when the leaves at at their peak because it's extraordinary to drive through yellow leaves cascading over the street. So awesome. Nice stop offs for water, small falls, brooks etc. Two mountain vista stops. And then old cabins (we did stop at one set of them. There was no parking avail at the 2nd stop off for cabins so we waited til the 3rd one. The 2nd one looked gorgeous. Oh well. Too bad they don't have more parking.)

I know many say on reviews here they were concerned about driving through here. If you have a car or regular truck you'll be fine. I worry about stuff like that, but this was actually very well laid out. It's wonderfully paved and well kept. Occasionally someone parked badly but designing this as ONE WAY so you don't have to pull aside if someone is coming is brilliant and makes for a much better experience. Only 2 bathrooms at hiking trails earlier on through 1/2 way part. Then a 3rd at the gift shop near the end. I wish they'd put porta johns at some of the bigger stops because as long as we were there (taking our time, the 2 weren't enough.) The 2nd one is at the halfway mark so before we finished we really needed one and had to hurry through some of the rest. But I'd do this again anytime. Such fun, free entertainment.

Thank mikki777
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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