TO THE TRAILHEAD: From Gatlinburg, turn onto Airport Road (Light #8) and follow this to an intersection just past Sidney James Motor Lodge. You will stay to the right to go onto Cherokee Orchard Rd. After 3 miles you will see Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail (one way) on your right. Take this one-way road 1.7 miles. You will see the parking area for Grotto falls on your left and the trailhead will be on the right.
THE HIKE: Grotto Falls is a fairly easy hike with the most unique waterfall in the park. You actually have the chance to walk behind a moving waterfall. Literally, you get to see the backside of water. Jokes aside, this is truly a great experience that everyone should do.
You will begin the hike on a well worn and non-distinctive path. You will take the Trillium Gap Trail just after you begin at .1 mile. The remainder of the hike is otherwise unimpressive or noteworthy as you move along a well-used and graded trail. You will literally walk into the falls at 1.3 miles.
The falls are great way to finish the hike. A 2o foot waterfall plunges to the pool below while you stand in the trail behind the falls completely dry (well, almost). As you might expect, the trail and surrounding rocks are very slick, so you will need to watch your footing. If you are lucky, you may see a pack of llamas hauling supplies to LeConte Lodge. They make this journey frequently and can be found on various days of the week on the Trillium Gap Trail.
You can continue this hike to go to Trillium Gap, Brushy Mountain, and of course the summit of Mount LeConte or simply turn around for a total of 2.6miles. As you might expect this hike is very popular and the parking area fills up very quickly. As with many of the other popular hikes in the area, your best bet is to arrive at the trailhead by 9am and try to avoid weekends and peak summer months. Do keep in mind that Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail road is closed from December 1 – March 31. Also, the road does not loop around and drop you off where you started. Instead, when you continue to the end of the one way road you will find yourself on highway 321. Take a left onto the highway to get back into Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge or a right to head towards Cosby.