Hiking Trillium Gap Trail in the Smoky Mountains

January 09, 2023

Whether you’re wanting to hike to the tallest summit in the Great Smoky Mountains or you want to see one of the most popular waterfalls, Trillium Gap Trail is a great way to get out and explore! There’s so much that this hike offers, and we know you can’t wait to get out there. Learn all about Trillium Gap now:

Round Trip Length 13.9 Miles
Elevation Gain 3,401 Feet
Trail Highlights waterfall, wildflowers, views


trillium gap trail with old forest growth

The trailhead for this hike is off of Roaring Fork Motor Trail. If you’re already in downtown Gatlinburg, turn onto Historic Nature Trail at light #8. You’ll travel along the Historic Nature Trail for 0.6 miles until you reach a fork in the road. You’ll take the road on the right, which is Cherokee Orchard Road, and travel along it for 3 miles. The trailhead for Trillium Gap Trail will be 1.5 miles down this road with a parking area on the left.

Trail Description

As you find the trailhead, you should know that the first 0.15 mile is an access trail. When you come to a junction, you should proceed straight ahead to stay on the right path.

Along the first portion of Trillium Gap, you’ll walk through old forest growth that includes huge hemlock trees. If you happen to be hiking this trail in the spring, you’ll also see several wildflowers along the path, including white violets, squaw corn, and Dutchman’s breeches.

grotto falls in the great smoky mountainsYou’ll come across several footbridges that cross over creeks. There are several rocky areas along the trail as you come up on the first popular sight, Grotto Falls. You’ll come up on the waterfall after about 1.3 miles, and the trail actually continues behind the falls. Be careful as you make your way behind it, because the area is slippery.

Past the falls, you’ll still see old forest growth with huge trees. At 3 miles, you will come to another junction in the trail. If you go left, you will be able to stop at the summit of Brushy Mountain, which has a beautiful view of Mount LeConte and the eastern portion of the Smokies. If you continue right, you’ll stay on Trillium Gap Trail.

After 6.6 miles, you’ll come up on LeConte Lodge. This is where hikers can reserve a small mountain lodge if they want to truly enjoy nature and the Smokies. If you continue on the path, Trillium Gap Trail actually dead ends into Rainbow Falls Trail. Anyone who wishes to reach the summit of Mount LeConte will need to continue left at the junction on Boulevard Trail for another three tenths of a mile.

Things to Know About Trillium Gap Trail

llamas taking supplies up the summit of mount leconteNow you know what to expect when you hike Trillium Gap Trail, but here are more interesting things you should know!

-This is the trail that’s used to get supplies up to LeConte Lodge. And how do they do it, you may be wondering? With llamas of course! If you get to the trail early enough on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, you could be so lucky to see these incredible animals making their way up the trail!

-Grotto Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls in the park. It’s also the only waterfall in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park you can walk behind.

-Trillium Gap Trail is 1 of 6 trails you can use to get to the summit of Mount LeConte.

You’re prepared to hike Trillium Gap Trail the next time you’re in the Smoky Mountains! If you’re using this trail to see Grotto Falls, don’t miss out on these hiking trails with waterfalls in the Smokies either!