Waterfalls in the Smokies


Few experiences in nature are more rewarding than taking a beautiful hike knowing there is a majestic waterfall waiting for you at the end. Waterfalls are commonly formed when a river is young at the time when the channel is often narrow and deep. When the river courses over resistant bedrock erosion happens slowly while upstream erosion occurs more quickly. As the water increases its velocity at the edge of the waterfall, it picks up material from the riverbed. The erosion capacity is increased when whirlpools created in the turbulence as well as sand and stones carried by the water stream. These whirlpools cause the waterfall the carve deeper into the into the bed and to recede upstream. Many times over a period of time, the waterfall will recede back to form a canyon or gorge downstream as it recedes upstream and will carve deeper into the ridge above it. The rate of retreat for a waterfall can be as high as one and a half meters per year.

waterfall diagram

Waterfalls normally form in a rocky area due to erosion. There is usually a deep area just below waterfalls because of the kinetic energy hitting the bottom. Often, the rock stratum just below the more resistant shelf will be of a softer type, meaning that undercutting due to splashback will occur here to form a shallow cave-like formation known as a rock shelter under and behind the waterfall. Eventually, the outcropping, more resistant cap rock will collapse under pressure to add blocks of rock to the base of the waterfall. These blocks of rock are then broken down into smaller boulders by attrition as they collide with each other, and they also erode the base of the waterfall by abrasion, creating a deep plunge pool or gorge.

There are many waterfalls that are just a short hike away here in the Smokies, these include:

  • Laurel Falls- This 80 foot high waterfall is one of the most photographed waterfalls in the smokies. Located just a few minutes from downtown Gatlinburg, this trail is paved making it stroller, wheelchair and walker accessible.
  • Grotto Falls- Easily walk behind this 25 foot high waterfall just minutes from Gatlinburg off the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. This trail is 3 miles round trip and should take around 2-3 hours to complete.


    Grotto Falls


Laurel Falls

  • Abrams Falls- This 5 mile roundtrip hike along Abrams Creek is moderate, but worth it. The large amount of water creates a very deep pool, but swimming is not allowed because of the dangerous currents. This hike is in Cades Cove.


    Abrams Falls

Ramsey Cascades- At 100 feet, this is the highest waterfall in the park. The water collects in a small pool where salamanders can be found. This is a strenuous 8 mile trip  will take 5 to 7 hours to complete, but the reward at the end is worth it. To get there drive 5.9 miles from Gatlinburg on 321, then turn right at Greenbrier, at mile 3.2 turn left at the sign for Ramsey Cascades onto the bridge that crosses the Middle Prong and drive 1.5 miles to the parking area.

  • Hen Wallow Falls- At the bottom of the 90 foot high waterfalls you can often find salamanders. During a very cold winter, the falls often freeze to form a beautiful ice formation. At 4.4 miles roundtrip, this hike is moderate in difficulty. Access this hike at the Gabes Mountain Trailhead at the Cosby Picnic area.


    Hen-Wallow Falls

  • Mingo Falls- Just outside of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you can hike this moderate set of wooden stairs .4 of a mile to this waterfall. The access trail is at the Pigeon Creek Trailhead. From the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, drive south toward  Cherokee on US 441 and take the second bridge to the left and drive 4.5 miles to Mingo Falls Campground where the trail begins.


    Mingo Falls

  • Rainbow Falls- A rainbow is visible on a sunny day when the mist creates a canvas. This 80 foot high waterfalls creates an impressive ice formation in the winter .This hike is 5.4 miles roundtrip and moderate in difficulty. The access trail is at the Rainbow Falls trailhead in the Roaring Fork area. From the Gatlinburg parkway, turn at traffic light #8 and follow the Historic Nature Trail into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Continue past Noah “Bud” Ogle cabin to the Rainbow Falls parking area.


    Rainbow Falls

Waterfalls in the Smokies you can drive to:

  • Meigs Falls- The pull off for this waterfall is along Little River Road 13 miles west of the Sugarlands Visitor Center. This waterfall can be easily missed while driving so be sure to watch carefully for it!
  • Place of 1,000 drips- From the parkway in Gatlinburg, turn at traffic light #8 and follow the Historic Nature trail in the park. Take the Roaring Fork Motor Nature trail and continue to stop #15 at the falls.

These waterfalls are breathtaking, but make sure to hike prepared with plenty of water, snacks and hiking essentials in case of emergencies.


Smoky Mountain Must-Sees

Subscribe to A Day In The SmokiesWhenever our guests come to town, they always ask about the best parts of the National Park to visit. Here are some sights accessible from Newfound Gap Rd that the Park recommends.

Newfound GapNewfound Gap
Newfound Gap runs almost exactly through the center of the Park and offers gorgeous views at little pull-offs all along the way! If you don’t have much time or energy, but are eager to experience some great views of the Park, this may be the path for you!

Alum Cave Bluffs
The Alum Cave Bluffs are 100 feet high, and have been in the past, the source of alum, a compound sulfate used in munitions manufacturing, in medicines, and in setting cloth dyes. They were also supposedly a source of saltpeter for Civil War gunpowder. The Alum Cave Bluffs Trail begins at Newfound Gap Rd between the Newfound Gap and Chimney Tops overlooks, and is a popular destination for day hikers. The trail is pretty strenuous at the end. It is 2.5 miles to the Bluffs, and 5 miles to Mount Le Conte.

Andrews Bald
A bald is an open, unforested area on a mountain ridge. Naturalists can’t explain for sure how they happen, but it could be due to overgrazing or repeated fires set by humans. Andrews Bald is the easiest bald to reach in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is located 1.8 miles south of Clingman’s Dome, by hiking trail. It has beautiful view, and the open fields, containing mainly grass and flowering shrubs, make it a nice picnic spot!

Charlies BunionCharlies Bunion
This is one of my husband’s personal favorites! He loves the views and it is the perfect day hike for him. He does it in a morning usually. In 1925, a forest fire swept through this section of the Park and exposed the ridge now know as Charlies Bunion, opening up sweeping views of Mount LeConte and Greenbrier. This trail is 4 miles one way.

Cherokee Orchard Road and Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
These roads include historical sites such as homesteads, cabins and a cemetery from a village that was home to about 24 families about 150 years ago! This is often hailed as a mini-Cades Cove, closer to Gatlinburg, a smaller loop, and usually less crowded, but still great for viewing wildlife and historic buildings! The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is closed in the winter.

Chimney Tops
In addition to the actual Chimney Tops Trail, the Chimney Tops picnic area, nearby, is in my opinion a destination of its own. It spreads along a beautiful mountain creek with tons of rocks to play on, and plenty of shallow spots to wade in! There are, of course, numerous picnic tables at which you can enjoy a meal. I have spent the whole day there before, reading, playing in the creek, and just generally relaxing and enjoying the lovely atmosphere! If you are interested in a little more action, continue down the road to the Chimney Tops Trail, and hike up to the Chimneys themselves on a strenuous four-mile round trip trail. This amazing rock formation is sheer pinnacles, looking somewhat like a couple of chimneys sticking up into the air. They said that when that blue mist rolls through the mountains, some of it goes in a cavity at the bottom of the formation and then rises out the open tops, looking very much like a smoking chimney!

Clingman's DomeClingman’s Dome
Clingman’s Dome is one of the most popular sites in the Smokies, and with good reason! It is the highest peak in the Smokies, at 6,643 feet, and though the top is covered with spruce and fir trees, there is an observation platform from which you can see a spectacular 360 degree view! The path to the observation platform is steep, but only a half-mile. Even the most out-of-shape person can make it! Just take frequent rests and bring plenty of water and a snack!

Mingus Mill
If you are interested in historical buildings, this is a great place to stop! One of two water-powered mills still in operation in the Park, from mid-April through October, a miller grinds corn and wheat to make cornmeal and flour. This attraction is wheelchair accessible.

Mount LeConte
Mount LeConte is considered one of the most beautiful mountain peaks to look at, and one of the most difficult to climb. It is a badge of honor to have climbed LeConte. I have a few friends who climb it at least a few times a year. My husband likes to go up there, and he usually ends up running most of the way down due to the steep grade! This is the third-highest peak in the Smokies, at 6,593 feet. Near the top, is LeConte Lodge, where some opt to stay the night and rest, and others stop for either a cool drink or a cup of hot cocoa or coffee, depending on the season. You will need to make reservations well in advance if you plan to stay at the Lodge overnight. There are no roads up to the Lodge, and all supplies are delivered by llama train! There are 5 different hiking trails on LeConte: Boulevard Trail via the Appalachian Trail starting at Newfound Gap. 16 miles round-trip; Alum Cave Trail at the Alum Cave parking lot on Newfound Gap Rd, 11 miles round-trip; Rainbow Falls Trail or Trillium Gap, each 13.4 miles round-trip; or Bull Head, 14.4 miles round-trip from Cherokee Orchard.

Mountain Farm MuseumMountain Farm Museum
Oconaluftee was settled around 1800, and is now home to Mountain Farm Museum, just a short walk from the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. The Museum replicates a 19th-century farm, including a house, barn, corncrib, sorghum molasses mill and blacksmith shop. From the spring through October, there are costumed interpretive demonstrations.

ERA In The SmokiesThis blog is sponsored in part by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg, TN. For more information on a Gatlinburg Cabin for your Smoky Mountain Vacation or all the reasons to move to the Smokies, call 1-800-309-0277. ERA In The Smokies is a leader in chalet and Log Cabin Rentals and Real Estate Sales in the Gatlinburg area.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Subscribe to A Day In The Smokies!!Well, Thanksgiving is in just a couple days, so we wanted to share some of the things, related to the Smokies, that we are most thankful for!

Rent A Cabin With a Mountain View!!The Great Smoky Mountains!
Who wouldn’t want to be here in the Great Smoky Mountains! It is certainly a joy to live here, and to share them with all of you! Whether you’re driving through Pigeon Forge and seeing them over the next hill, or driving right up in them to spend a day enjoying their beauty first hand, those Great Smoky Mountains hold a piece of our hearts!

Find Summer Activities!!A Great Summer!
We are so thankful for a great summer! Tons of people came to enjoy the mountains and all the wonderful attractions here! Swimming, waterfalls, Splash Country, walking the Parkway, enjoying the ice cream from across the street after a great game of mini-golf! This summer was full of great times and wonderful memories!

Find Fall Activities!!A Gorgeous Fall!
The fall has been another wonderful time of year! Many of you came to enjoy the mountains as they donned their glorious splendor of reds, oranges, and golds! Hiking, Zip-lining, Dollywood, shopping! The fall was full of fun for us all!! Don’t forget to come back next fall!

See some of our favorite bear pictures!The Bears!
We are thankful indeed for the bears! What amazing creatures they are! And so many of you have enjoyed coming and catching those hoped-for glances of bears! The bears have been more active than ever this year, even enjoying the candy shop downtown. They seem to enjoy doing their best to rip up our trash cans! And if that doesn’t work, for some reason they seem to enjoy our hot tubs almost as much as you do!

Read about the elk!Other Wildlife!
The Great Smoky Mountains are home to “some 66 species of mammals, over 200 varieties of birds, 50 native fish species, and more than 80 types of reptiles and amphibians.” Some of our favorites include the elk, the salamanders, and the synchronous fireflies! A couple of the best places to view these include Cades Cove and the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail!

Find Kid-friendly attractions!So Much To Do!
There is so much to do and to enjoy here in the Smokies! When each season comes, I find myself looking forward to that season’s unique benefits, and thinking to myself, this is the BEST time to come to the Smokies!! Whether it’s Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall, NOW is the BEST time to come!

Find pictures from previous tournaments, and information about our next tournament!A Great Golf Benefit!
This year we had a wonderful time at our 13th Annual ERA for MDA Golf Benefit, in which we were able to raise over $12,000 to send local Muscular Dystrophy kids to a camp where they can experience life without limits! We enjoyed two great meals, a wonderful golf game, and a hilarious auction, all of which raised money for MDA!

People here are so friendly! Why not move here!Friendly Neighbors!
One of the things I enjoy most about this area is the people! They are so loving and friendly! You may think that those of us who live here are resentful of tourists, but quite the contrary! It’s because of our honored guests that are we are able to make a living, and enjoy living here in the beautiful Smokies!! So the people are friendly to locals and tourists alike!

Awesome Customers!
We are so thankful for all our awesome customers! It is our joy to help you have the most wonderful experience possible when you come to the Smokies! We are especially thankful for all of you who keep coming back and invite your friends!

Happy Thanksgiving! Don’t forget to count your blessings!

ERA In The SmokiesThis blog is sponsored in part by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg, TN. For more information on a Gatlinburg Cabin for your Smoky Mountain Vacation or all the reasons to move to the Smokies, call 1-800-309-0277. ERA In The Smokies is a leader in chalet and Log Cabin Rentals and Real Estate Sales in the Gatlinburg area.

GATLINBURG: Smoky Mtn Romance

Click Here to Subscribe to our Blog by Email!Looking for a special way to spend Valentine’s with your sweetheart? Come to the Gatlinburg, the Gateway to the Smoky Mountains, and spend a fun-filled romantic week or just the weekend. Whether you are looking to pop the question, get married, or just canoodle, Gatlinburg is bound to have the perfect thing for you to do or see. Here are some of our favorites:

This bed is in "Above the Rest" at Winfield Heights!1. Rent a Cabin. Nothing says romance like a little log cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains. Whether you’re looking for a rustic cabin with a wood-burning fireplace or the lap of luxury with all the amenities, Gatlinburg offers all the options you can imagine.

Want to soak in a hot tub with a view? Try Chipmunk Haven. Want to enjoy a roaring fire while snuggled into your king-size bed? Try the Above the Rest–one of the cabins at Winfield Heights.

Smoky Mountain Winery2. Winery Tours. Wine may not be the first thing that pops to mind when contemplating what to do in Gatlinburg, but Smoky Mountain Winery opened its doors in 1981. Take a free tour of the production facilities then follow it up with a free tasting of more than 20 available award-winning wines. Take a bottle home to remember your honeymoon, anniversary or romantic getaway weekend!

3. Ski Lodge. Love to ski? Ober Gatlinburg is a great destination for your winter skiing. Don’t ski? Give it a try in ski school. Nothing will bond the two of you like learning something new. And, if ski school doesn’t go well…you can always help nurse each other’s wounded pride.

Rent a Cabin with a View!4. Photography. When everyone has a digital camera, it is easy to forget about having professional portraits taken. Take the stress out of trying to find the perfect stranger walking by to take a picture of you and your honey on vacation. Gary Woods Photography offers location shoots. I love the composition in his outdoor portraits. Trust a professional and capture the memory for a lifetime.

Let It Snow!5. Snow Snow Snow! What happens if you were hoping for snow and don’t see any when you get here? Well, you have to find the snow. Snowfalls of an inch or more occur on average only one to five times per year in the valleys of the Great Smoky Mountains although Gatlinburg has already had two of these snowfalls in December alone. In the high country, over five feet of snow falls most years. If the Newfound Gap Road has not been closed because of snow, a trip to Newfound Gap is your best bet for finding snow. Have fun and dress warm!

Have a Take Out picnic from Best Italian!6. Have a Picnic. No–I haven’t lost my mind. I know it is too cold for most of you to be traipsing into the woods with a blanket and picnic basket. I propose you picnic in your cabin. Rent a movie, start a fire, and order take out from one of Gatlinburg’s great eateries. I recommend a big Italian feast from Best Italian (pictured left) or create your own gourmet picnic of hummus, specialty cheeses, olives and breads from our local Food City. Bon appetite!

Take an Auto Tour of Wildflowers all year 'round!7. Auto-Touring. Too cold to hike? Hiking not your idea of romance? Take an auto-tour. Enjoy some of the Smoky Mountains greatest sites from the comfort of your car.

Some of my favorite Auto-Touring trails are the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Newfound Gap Road from Gatlinburg to Cherokee, and any section of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Fill up your tank and hit the open road.

Try out a cabin at Winfield Heights for a spa-like experience!8. Relax. Ready to get away from it all? Try spa services for the ultimate relaxing getaway. Whether you are looking for a pedicure and facial or a joint massage with aroma therapy, About You Salon offers a whole menu of services to suit your fancy.

Try their Signature Mountain Heritage Massage and 10% of the proceeds will go to Friends of the Smokies’ efforts to support the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Try the Pancake Pantry for Breakfast!9. Dining for Two. A romantic meal that you don’t have to shop for or cook is always a welcome relief for the cook in your family. Trust me on this one. Gatlinburg restaurants abound.

Whether you are looking for a great steak like those at the Alamo Steakhouse, a gourmet breakfast from the Pancake Pantry, or a indulgent lunch from the Haufbrau House, there is a little something for everyone. By the way, if you love Italian food, Gatlinburg does it well over and over. Check out our Best Italian Food post!

Going to the Chapel...10. Goin’ to the Chapel. Gatlinburg sees the second most weddings in the country each year (surprisingly just behind Las Vegas).

A simply ceremony at a cabin like Bear’s Den can help create a beautiful memory and a place to return for many years to come.

An elaborate wedding at one of the local chapels is easy to plan from afar. And, of course, you can always get married in the only Hard Rock Cafe in the world with a wedding chapel–the Hard Rock Gatlinburg.

Check out our Smoky Mountain Wedding post for more information.

ERA In The SmokiesThis blog is sponsored by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg. For more info. on a Gatlinburg Cabin for your Smoky Mountain Vacation or all the reasons to move to the Smokies, call 1-800-309-0277. ERA In The Smokies is a leader in chalet and Log Cabin Rentals and Real Estate Sales in the Gatlinburg area.

Spring Awakening

Spring AwakeningThe snow seems to finally be gone, the temperatures are getting just warm enough to be quite lovely, the trees are starting to bud, and the sound of bird song can once again be heard in these hills! Spring is just about to begin! And believe me, we are poised on the edges of our seats just waiting for Spring to burst upon us in all its fullness! In perfect harmony with the awakening of Spring is the Awakening of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!

Smoky Mountain RoadsRoads

Primary Roads, such as US-441 (Newfound Gap Road), Little River Road, and the Cade’s Cove Loop Road are pretty much open year round, weather permitting. Cade’s Cove Loop Road is currently closed due to construction to improve the road, but will be opened again by May 21!
Secondary roads are opened seasonally. Little Greenbrier and Straight Fork/Round Bottom opened March 12! Parson Branch, Rich Mountain, and Forge Creek Roads will open by May 21. The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail and Heintooga Ridge/Balsam Mountain Road openings will be delayed to May 28, and the Clingman’s Dome Road will open on May 29.

Smoky Moutain CampgroundsCamping

The Park has 10 developed campgrounds at different locations throughout the park! The Cade’s Cove Campground is opened year round and is not affected by the Cade’s Cove Loop Road Construction. Abrams Creek, Big Creek, Cataloochee, Cosby, and Elkmont Campgrounds opened March 12. Deep Creek is set to open April 1, and Look Rock will open May 14. Due to some road repair work, Smokemont and Balsam Mountain Campgrounds will delay their opening til May 28.
Several group campsites are also available, and reservations must be made through the National Recreation Reservation Service. Group Camping was made available starting March 12 at Big Creek, Cataloochee, Cosby, and Cade’s Cove. Deep Creek will open on April 1, Elkmont on April 10, and Smokemont on May 28.
Also, of interest to some are horse camps, and opportunities for back country camping!

Smoky Mountain Picnic AreasPicnic Areas

There are 10 different first-come, first-serve picnic areas. Big Creek, Cades Cove, Chimney Tops, Cosby, Greenbrier, Deep Creek, and Metcalf Bottoms are open year-round. Collins Creek Picnic Area opened on March 12, Look Rock will open May 14, and Heintooga will open on May 28. The Park’s largest picnic pavilion at Twin Creeks is scheduled to open April 28. There are five other picnic pavilions that can be reserved in the following picnic areas: Collins Creek, Cosby, Deep Creek, Metcalf Bottoms, and Greenbrier.

Smoky Mountain Horseback RidingHorseback Riding

There are several horseback riding and related activities available in the Great Smoky Mountains! Smoky Mountain Riding Stable opened March 6, the Sugarlands Riding Stable opened March 13, and the Cades Cove Riding Stable will open April 1. Cades Cove offers not only horseback rides, but also carriage rides. The carriage rides, however, will not be available until the Cades Cove Loop Road opens. They will also be offering wheelchair accessible carriage and hay rides.

To find tons of other fun things to do during your stay in the Smokies, just use the Search feature on our website! For other detailed information about the Smoky Mountain National Park, visit their website!

ERA In The Smokies Realty & Rentals!


This blog is sponsored by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg.  For more info. on a Gatlinburg Cabin for your Smoky Mountain Vacation or all the reasons to move to the Smokies, call 1-800-309-0277.  ERA In The Smokies is a leader in chalet and Log Cabin Rentals and Real Estate Sales in the Gatlinburg area.

GATLINBURG: Fall Changing of the Leaves–Coming Soon to a Park near You!

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Hobblebush photo courtesy of Harvard ForestWhy are fall colors so remarkable in the Smokies? One reason is the area’s amazing diversity of trees. Some 100 species of native trees live in the Smokies and the vast majority of these are deciduous.

How do colors change? As summer ends, the green pigments in leaves deteriorate, giving other colors a chance to shine. Carotenoids, the pigment that makes carrots orange and leaves yellow, are exposed as the green fades. Reds and purples come from anthocyanins, a pigment that is formed when sugars in leaves break down in bright autumn sunlight.

Bring the family to see the leaves change!The Great Smoky Mountains National Park usually experiences an autumn leaf season of several weeks as fall colors travel down the mountainsides from high elevation to low. However, the timing of fall color change depends upon so many variables (including rainfall) that the exact dates of peak fall foliage color each year are impossible to predict in advance.

Elevation profoundly affects when fall colors change in the park. Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway!At higher elevations, where the climate is similar to New England’s, leaves begin to change as early as mid-September with the turning of yellow birch, American beech, mountain maple, hobblebush (above right) & pin cherry.

From early to mid-October, fall colors develop above 4,000 feet. To enjoy them, drive the Clingmans Dome Road, the Blue Ridge Parkway (right), or the Foothills ParkwaySupport the Park, buy the Cades Cove Story!The fall color display usually reaches peak at mid and lower elevations between mid-October and early November. This is the park’s most spectacular display as it includes such colorful trees as sugar maple, scarlet oak, sweetgum, red maple, and the hickories.

Autumn is both a beautiful and a busy time in the Great Smoky Mountains. The annual show of fall colors attracts huge numbers of sightseers, especially during the last three weeks of October. Areas in the park which experience the longest traffic delays are Cades Cove (see book pictured left) & Newfound Gap Road. Try some of these less crowded autumn hikes & drives:

  • Check for current discounts!Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, a narrow, steep, but paved one-way road that winds through rich forests and offers glimpses of rollicking Roaring Fork creek. As the name implies, this road is designed for leisurely travel and enjoyment of nature.
  • Blue Ridge Parkway follows the crest of the mountains for 469 miles, all the way to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Frequent auto pullouts along the first few miles provide spectacular views of the Smoky Mountains in all their autumn finery.
  • Balsam Mountain Road offers intimate views of northern hardwood forest at the top, transitioning to cove and southern hardwoods toward the bottom. The road eventually leaves the park and enters the Cherokee Indian Reservation.

There are no rental cabins located within the Great Smoky Mountain National Park; however, take a look at some of these cabins with phenomenal views:

  • Stay a week or Stay a lifetime!Longview is a private, 2 bedroom, 2 bath log cabin with stunning mountain views!  Longview is well-decorated, has  satellite TV with DVD & a pool table.  Longview is located close to downtown Gatlinburg,Pigeon Forge & the National Park.
  • Mountain Overlook – Enjoy the unforgettable mountain views while relaxing in the hot tub.  This 2 bedroom, 1 bath log cabin is only minutes from downtown Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge!
  • A Nice Catch – This new 1 bedroom log cabin is close to downtown Gatlinburg, sleeps up to 5, and has cathedral ceilings, a wooden spiral staircase, and a game room. Lots of glass and decking make this cabin perfect for enjoying the mountain view!
  • Almost Heaven – This 2 bedroom, 2 bath cabin is located minutes from the National Park. You can enjoy the fall color from your hot tub or porch –no hiking necessary.
  • Winfield Heights – From a spa-like couples getaway to a family-fun vacation, the cabins of Winfield Heights offer you and yours deluxe accommodations and amenities–in-room whirlpools, outdoor hot tubs, pool tables & fireplaces.  Enjoy both a mountain view AND a downtown city view!

ERA In The SmokiesSpecial thanks to the Smokies Guide, the official newspaper of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as well as www.nps.gov/grsm for providing the fall color update information.

This blog is sponsored by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg.  For more info. on a Gatlinburg Cabin for your Smoky Mountain Vacation or all the reasons to move to the Smokies, call 1-800-309-0277.  ERA In The Smokies is a leader in chalet and Log Cabin Rentals and Real Estate Sales in the Gatlinburg area.

Fresh Tracks: Hiking the Trillium Gap Trail in Gatlinburg, TN

Trillium Gap Trail taken by Jon Ives

Trillium Gap Trail taken by Jon Ives

The Great Smoky Mountains have finally turned brilliant green, and every local I know has been itching to get outside and enjoy the lushness of it all.  In that spirit, my husband, Jon, decided to spend his day off Tuesday hiking. 

 The Trillium Gap Trail off the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail in downtown Gatlinburg is a natural choice because it is so close to town. Luckily for us, he took along his camera and documented a few of the sites along the way.

Trillium Grandiflorum

 Trillium Gap Trail meanders through an old-growth hemlock forest and actually runs behind the twenty-five foot high Grotto Falls.  For more information on local waterfalls, click here.  

Grotto Falls by Jon Ives

The cool, moist environment near the falls is ideal for salamanders and summer hikers. The hike is 3 miles roundtrip and considered moderate in difficulty. The trail is named for the white trillium flowers (Trillium Grandiflorum pictured right) that bloom in the area.  The first half of the hike is approximately 1.5 miles and takes you to Grotto Falls (pictured left), “and I always enjoy sharing the path with families with kids,” says Jon.   

Path to Grotto Falls by Jon Ives

Ferns by Jon Ives

“The path is wide, smooth and not too steep (pictured right) so I usually see kids of every age on this trail.”  With lots of places to rest and sites to see, this moderate path is a great for families or casual hobbyists.

Moss by Jon Ives

 “I couldn’t believe how beautiful the moss and ferns (pictured left)were there,” said Jon.   “The cool green lushness of the Spring forest was almost bright enough to hurt your eyes.”  

Path past Grotto Falls by Jon Ives“Once I took a few pictures and rested a while, I decide to keep hiking the Trillium Gap Trail for a bit longer,” said Jon.  The path past Grotto Falls gets significantly steeper, narrower, and rougher.  “I realized after just a few minutes that I was on the path completely alone which was refreshing…until I started seeing fresh bear tracks.”  

Pigeon Forge in the Distance by Jon Ives

The steeper rougher trail can be worth the view if you are patient.  Many hikers are startled by how significant the elevation can get in a short period of time.  There are areas where the view extends all the way to Pigeon Forge and beyond (pictured right).

 Jon hiked approximately 1.5 miles past the falls to the next trail intersection.  The trip up (approx. 3 miles) took him 2 hours, and the trip back down took about 1 hour travelling at a fairly brisk pace and stopping to take an occasional picture.  Of course the trail continues thereby allowing you to cater your trip to the amount of time you have and your personal ability.   See the Great Smoky Mountains Trail Map for complete details.
 To get to the Trillium Gap Trailhead from downtown Gatlinburg, turn at traffic light #8 and follow Historic Nature Trail into Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Take Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail (no RVs; closed in winter ) to stop #5. There is a large parking area.






This blog is sponsored in part by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg, TN.  For more information on a Gatlinburg Cabin for your Smoky Mountain Vacation or all the reasons to move to the Smokies, call 1-800-309-0277.  ERA In The Smokies is a leader in chalet and Log Cabin Rentals and Real Estate Sales in the Gatlinburg area.