Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail - A scenic drive in the Smokies

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While many visitors to the Smoky Mountains know and love driving the Cades Cove loop, there’s another motor nature trail that’s worth exploring, the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. Located just minutes from Gatlinburg, this beautiful scenic drive is full of history and exciting sights to see!


About the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.


From Downtown Gatlinburg, turn off the main Parkway in Gatlinburg at traffic light #8. Follow Historic Nature Trail Road to the Cherokee Orchard entrance to the Smoky Mountains national park to reach Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. 



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.


Noah “Bud” Ogle’s cabin.



Before the official start of the Roaring Fork motor nature trail, you will pass by Noah “Bud” Ogle’s cabin. The cabin is a part of the original mountain farm. A self-guiding trail here takes visitors on a walking tour of the old homestead. You will find the cabin, a tubmill, and a handcrafted wooden flume system.




Past 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. When sunlight hits the water just right you can see the misty rainbow that bounces from the cascading water.  


Along the Trail.


After turning onto the Roaring Fork Trail you will have opportunities to explore. The trail has two pull-offs that show off views of the Smoky Mountains. Other pull-offs provide areas to access the river or 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. 


If hiking is not your thing, you can visit the Place of a Thousand Drips. Heavy rains cause this waterfall to split into multiple channels creating an incredibly mesmerizing look. 

Along the motor trail, you will see and can explore old homesites, a watermill, and other historic areas.


And at last, you may see some wildlife like bears and deer! This beautiful natural area is well worth the time to enjoy the Smokies!


You have many lodging choices while staying in the Smoky Mountains, but we think that nothing is better than staying at Blue Mountain Cabins. Our cabins provide your own personal space, the comforts of home, and gathering areas for your family or group. Come back to the cabin to relax after a day in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park or keep the fun going with a game at the cabin. Or, gather around the fire pit and see the stars above.