sunrise over Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Top 4 Things to See Along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

Rushing water along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail in Gatlinburg TN.
September 20, 2016

The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is one of the most popular scenic drives in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. This 5.5 mile one-way loop road offers beautiful natural scenery, historic buildings, and the trailheads for some of the best hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. When you stay at Sidney James Mountain Lodge, you will be just a few minutes away from this excellent drive. Here are the top four things to see along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail during your next vacation in Gatlinburg:

1. The Noah “Bud” Ogle Place

Before you enter the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail you will find the Noah “Bud” Ogle Place, an historic homestead built in the late 1800s. Noah was the great-grandson of William Ogle and Martha Huskey, the first white settlers in the Gatlinburg area. The Noah Ogle Place includes a cabin, barn, and tub mill (used for grinding grain into flour). Guests at the Noah Ogle Place will enjoy a self guided nature trail through the beautifully preserved homestead.

2. Beautiful Fall Colors

Breathtaking views of the fall foliage in the mountains from the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.

In the autumn, the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is one of the best places in Gatlinburg for viewing the fall colors. The road is surrounded by trees, so visitors are treated to vibrant displays of red, yellow, and orange leaves in every shade and hue. If you can’t make it to Gatlinburg during the fall, the road’s green springtime and summertime leaves are also very beautiful.

(See Also: What to Do on Your Gatlinburg Vacation)

3. Wildlife

If you’re lucky, you’ll see some of the area’s signature wildlife during your drive along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. Black bears are sometimes seen crossing the road so they can sink their teeth into some of the area’s abundant acorns, nuts, and berries. Wild turkeys are also frequently spotted along the Motor Nature Trail. Some of these turkeys are so used to having humans drive by that they don’t even react when you pull up next to them in your car!

4. Beautiful Waterfalls

Tourists on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail will have the chance to see three stunning waterfalls! The trailhead for the hike to Rainbow Falls is located soon after the Noah Ogle Place. The hike to the waterfall is 5.4 miles round trip and is considered moderately difficult.

Rainbow Falls near Gatlinburg TN.

The Motor Nature Trail is also home to the trailhead for Grotto Falls. This unique waterfall has the distinction of being the only waterfall you can actually walk behind in the Smokies. Grotto Falls is also famous for having a herd of llamas pass through on many Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings! These beautiful animals are used to deliver supplies to the top of Mount LeConte.

Finally, towards the end of the Motor Nature Trail, you will see the “Place of a Thousand Drips”, a wet weather waterfall that you can see right from your car. No hiking required!

Guests at Sidney James Mountain Lodge will love being right next to the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail! With an indoor pool, two outdoor pools, a sauna, an onsite restaurant, and more great amenities, our hotel has everything you need for an unforgettable vacation. To start planning your getaway, browse our selection of Gatlinburg hotel rooms!