Gatlinburg Old Growth Forest Tour

Drive the Roaring Fork Motor Trail

Within a few short minutes of the hustle and bustle, stop and go of the Parkway in Gatlinburg, you can drive through one of the most beautiful areas of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A drive along the Roaring Fork Motor Trail is an absolute must during your vacation at Carr’s Northside Cottages.

Roaring Fork Nature Trail Drive and Hikes

Drive the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

From the downtown Parkway, you will enter the trail from stoplight #8 at Airport Rd. The 5.5-mile one-way road ends less than ½ a mile from Carr’s Northside Cottages. The driving trail is open from May 1 – November 27.

If the weather cooperates, plan to take your drive after a good rain. The streams and waterfalls will be at their best when Gatlinburg has gotten a good soak. Rather than putting a damper on a vacation, this time some rain will greatly enhance the experience!

Take the opportunity to learn a little bit about real mountain culture when you tour the Noah “Bud” Ogle farmstead. This self-guided nature trail will offer a glimpse of two key attributes of the Smokies: the beauty of the developed forest and the simple ingenuity of the Appalachian farmer.

Bud Ogle Log Cabin and Farmstead

Noah “Bud” Ogle Log Cabin

If you’re still in the mood for walking after the nature trail, you can tackle two great hikes along the driving trail. You can stop at the Rainbow Falls trailhead, 5.4-mile moderately strenuous hike. The Grotto Falls hike, further along on the driving trail, is also worth the walk. While easier than the Rainbow Falls trails, you’ll still want to be prepared for this moderate 3 mile round trip hike. If you choose either of the treks, be sure to wear appropriate footgear and take along water and snacks.

Of course, Roaring Fork can also be enjoyed as a quiet, leisurely drive through some old growth forest. You’ll find plenty of opportunities to pull off of the road to admire the scenery and to take lots of photos. You can see log cabins, gristmills, and other historic buildings.

That’s part of the appeal of the Roaring Fork Motor Trail: you can approach in a way that suits your needs. Drive through as much as you want or get out and explore at every opportunity. You can always come back another day to see anything you might have missed the first time through.

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