We get out about once a week to hike usually in central to western North Carolina. We hike slowly and stop often to enjoy the views and the little treasures that nature offers. We enjoy waterfall, river, and mountain hikes frequently visiting The Blue Ridge Parkway, the Great Smoky Moutains National Park, and Pisgah National Forest.
We hiked this trail on a weekday and felt lucky to see someone backing out of a parking space in the main parking area. There are chemical toilets at the parking and more parking spaces on down the road. This very popular trail head is located on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail accessed from Gatlinburg, TN. The hike to the falls is 2.6 miles round trip.
The trail is wide enough to walk side by side and only had short sections with rocks and roots to step over. It is not steep but gradually climbs around the sides of the hills. There are steep drop offs beside the trail in places We crossed four small streams with no bridges but we did not get our feet wet. There was some very fresh bear scat in the trail.
This trail doesn't have any wide open vistas but the woods are pretty and there were lots of wildflowers along both sides of the trail. On the right were lots of little flowers mixed in the mossy areas on the uphill slope. On the left were lots of trillium on the downhill slope. No one seemed to be in a rush to complete this trail.
It seems like there is no indication of being near a creek or waterfall when the trail rounds a corner and you are beside and above the creek. There are a series of pretty cascades almost directly below us. The falls can be seen in the distance only slightly above us. The last hundred feet of so to the falls are the most difficult of this easy hike. There are some wet slippery rocks to negotiate.
There were lots of people playing and relaxing at the falls. This is not a place to go for solitude. The trail passes behind the falls in a sort of cave where you can feel the mist from the falls. We found a nice rock on the far side of the falls to enjoy our picnic while watching children climb around the rocks and water. This is the trail that the llama train takes to the Lodge on LeConte twice a week carrying supplies.