© 1999 Jon Binder
Ratings (ratings explained)
Ease of Access: 10/10
This is a five mile one-way road loop that is referred to as a "motorized nature trail." It is a unique and easy way to get up close to some beautiful cascades and waterfalls.
Cascade on Roaring Fork Creek
The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is located in the Tennessee portion of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. From U.S. route 441 in Gatlinburg, turn onto Airport Road at traffic light number 8. This road soon turns into Cherokee Orchard road. It is then three miles to the start of the motor trail. The trail (road) makes the five mile loop back to Gatlinburg and ends at route 321.
A drive along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is truly a wonderful experience. It's a great way to experience some of nature's best sights, sounds, and smells without having to hike. It would make a great outing for anyone with physical limitations.
The road is quite narrow and curvy, so don't plan on rushing through this area. You won't want to anyway. Think twice, though, before driving a big RV along the trail. In fact, I'm not even sure that it is allowed. Regular cars have no problem on the road, however, just be sure to take it slow. Again, you won't want to drive too fast, or you might miss one of the countless beautiful scenes. The road provides access to the Rainbow Falls (6.6 miles) and Grotto Falls (1.2 miles) trails, and also passes the "Place of a Thousand Drips," a pretty but low-volume falls found at the roadside near the trail's end. In addition, most of the route is along Roaring Fork Creek. Essentially, the whole stream is a series of amazing cascades. The cascade pictured on this page is found right along the trail at about the halfway point. Many other points of interest, cascades and otherwise, are also passed along the route, so be sure to make frequent stops. While the road itself is too narrow to stop or turn around, there are many areas to park along the trail that allow you to get out and enjoy this area's incredible beauty. Allow at least two hours for this excursion, in order to provide enough time to take full advantage of all it has to offer.
Pick up a brochure of the motor trail, describing several points of interest along the route, at the Great Smoky Mountain National Park Sugarlands visitor center, located two miles south of Gatlinburg on US 441. You might want to also check out Laurel Falls while you are in the area.
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Page Last Revised: April 2, 2002