Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is a narrow one-way road that is open to vehicular traffic (cars and small pickup trucks only) in Spring, Summer, and Fall. Along with the historic district, the road passes by two overlooks and a forest that is representative of mid-level elevations in the Smokies.

The trail begins just past the Rainbow Falls Trailhead on Cherokee Orchard Road, and slowly ascends Piney Mountain, topping out at an overlook on the mountain's northern slopes (the overlook's elevation is roughly 3,000 feet/914 meters). Just past the overlook, the road passes numerous large chestnut tree blowdowns. These trees, which often grew to 5–6 feet in diameter, were killed off by a blight in the 1930s.

As the road descends Piney Mountain, it passes a parking lot at the Trillium Gap Trailhead. This hiking trail leads past Grotto Falls and Trillium Gap en route to the summit of Mount Le Conte. Trillium Gap — the gap between Brushy Mountain and the main Le Conte massif — was named by Horace Albright, who observed the trillium-filled area in the 1920s.

Past the Trillium Gap Trailhead, the road steadies as it enters the upper reaches of the Roaring Fork hollow. Patches of young tulip trees mark the former location of the Clabo and Ogle farms. Immediately after the road crosses Roaring Fork, the Jim Bales Place is visible on the right (east). The Grapeyard Ridge Trail, which connects Roaring Fork to Greenbrier, begins just behind the barn. Past the Jim Bales Place are the Ephraim Bales Place and Alfred Reagan Place.

The road continues to descend past the historic district, passing along the way a parking lot that allows for an upclose view of Roaring Fork. A thin waterfall known as "The Place of a Thousand Drips" is the last stop along the motor trail before it re-enters Gatlinburg.

View Gatlinburg Cabin Rentals