Trillium Gap Trail (Grotto Falls, Mt. LeConte)Difficult

Cherokee Orchard / Gatlinburg, TN

Difficult
Trillium Gap Trail (Grotto Falls, Mt. LeConte)

Distance (One Way)

8.9 miles

Elevation Gain

3,850 feet

Trailhead

Cherokee Orchard

Location

Gatlinburg, TN

Trail Description

Trillium Gap Trail is one of the hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains leading to Mt. LeConte. It is also the trail to Grotto Falls. Starting at the true trailhead in Cherokee Orchard, the trail itself is 8.8 miles long, 3.4 to Grotto Falls, and 8.9 to get all the way to Mt. LeConte. It is the second longest route to reach LeConte Lodge, with the longest being Brushy Mountain Trail (9.1 miles to LeConte).

Most hikers looking to reach the waterfall bypass the first part of the trail and park off Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail in a lot labelled Grotto Falls Parking. From this trailhead you'll reach the waterfall in 1.4 miles and Mount LeConte in 6.7.

Trillium Gap Trail is the longest trail to reach Mount LeConte, and it is probably the least steep of all 6 trails. Most of the hike to the summit is enjoyable for a well seasoned hiker who can handle a steady incline. However, the last couple of miles are fairly strenuous. The trail gets very rocky with several steep switchbacks - especially in the last 3.6 miles to the lodge.

At 5.3 miles you will reach what appears to be a 4 way trail intersection. To the right is the remaining 3.6 miles of Trillium Gap Trail to LeConte Lodge. Straight ahead is the first 4.5 miles of Brushy Mountain Trail. If you continued all the way down in this direction you would find yourself in the first mile of Porters Creek Trail near Greenbrier Cove. To the left is the last 0.4 of a mile of Brushy Mountain Trail, AKA, the spur trail to the summit of Brushy Mountain. If you are up for a quick and steep detour, the small clearing at the summit of Brushy Mountain yields some of the most underrated views in the Smokies.

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Trillium Gap Trail (Grotto Falls, Mt. LeConte) Elevation Profile

Trillium Gap Trail (Grotto Falls, Mt. LeConte) Elevation Profile

Mt. LeConte Trails

Other ways to reach Mt. LeConte: Alum Cave Trail (Mt. LeConte) (5 m) Boulevard Trail (Mt. LeConte) (5.4 m) Brushy Mountain Trail (Mt. LeConte) (4.9 m) Bullhead Trail (Mt. LeConte) (5.9 m) Rainbow Falls Trail (Mt. LeConte) (6.6 m)

Mount LeConte's 6 Trails

Alum Cave

Route Info: 1 trail, 5 miles total

Trailhead: Newfound Gap Road [Map]

Starting Elevation: 3878'

Pros: shortest & easiest route, incredible views throughout including Alum Cave Bluffs, Inspiration Point, and a distant Clingman's Dome on a clear day

Pros: the busiest of all 6 trails and one of the most trekked in the entire park

More Info

The Boulevard

Route Info: 2 trails, 8.1 miles total

Trailhead: Newfound Gap [Map]

Starting Elevation: 5039'

Pros: a high starting point makes for the only LeConte hike that isn't a relentlessly steep climb, incredible views throughout

Pros: first 2.7 miles on the AT can get fairly crowded; elevation changes make it a tougher one to go back down

More Info

Bullhead

Route Info: 3 trails, 6.9 miles total

Trailhead: Cherokee Orchard [Map]

Starting Elevation: 2602'

Pros: potential loop hike, The Pulpit, wide open views for most of the trail after the 2016 Gatlinburg fires, least traveled route

Pros: some of the roughest terrain out of the 6 trails, very steep, many consider it very difficult

More Info

Rainbow Falls

Route Info: 1 trail, 6.5 miles total

Trailhead: Cherokee Orchard [Map]

Starting Elevation: 2602'

Pros: waterfall at the 2.7 mile marker, potential loop hike

Pros: the short waterfall hike makes the first portion of this trail a very crowded spot if you don't start early enough

More Info

Trillium Gap

Route Info: 1 trail, 8.9 miles total

Trailhead: Cherokee Orchard [Map]

Starting Elevation: 2602'

Pros: most gentle incline of the 6, potential loop hike, the LeConte llama train, Grotto Falls early on in the trail

Pros: the longest single trail to LeConte, the last 3.6 miles can feel pretty brutal

More Info

Brushy Mountain

Route Info: 3 trails, 9.1 miles total

Trailhead: Greenbrier Cove [Map]

Starting Elevation: 1696'

Pros: the roundabout way of reaching the lodge makes it an unpopular option, beautiful views of Mt LeConte from the trail & summit of Brushy Mountain

Pros: the longest route possible, includes the last 3.6 miles of Trillium Gap; most of the trail gets overgrown in the spring & summer

More Info
Alum Cave Trail (5 m)Arch Rock (1.4 m)Arch RockAlum Cave Bluffs (2.3 m)Alum Cave Bluffs (4.1 m)Vantage PointInspiration Point (2 m)Inspiration PointAppalachian Trail (2.7 m)Boulevard Trail (5.4 m)The Jumpoff (2.8 m)The JumpoffAnakeesta KnobAnakeesta KnobVantage Point (6.9 m)Vantage PointMyrtle Point (7.4 m)Myrtle PointHigh TopHigh TopOld Sugarlands Trail (0.4 m)Bullhead Trail (5.9 m)Rainbow Falls Trail (0.6 m)The PulpitThe PulpitFire Damage (2.1 m)Fire DamageIntersection with Rainbow FallsIntersection with Rainbow FallsRainbow Falls Trail (6.5 m)Rainbow FallsRainbow FallsFire Damage (3.7 m)Fire DamageTrillium Gap Trail (8.9 m)Grotto FallsGrotto FallsBrushy MountainBrushy MountainPorters Creek Trail (1 m)Brushy Mountain Trail (4.5 m)Trillium Gap Trail (3.6 m)Summit of Brushy MountainSummit of Brushy Mountain12345678925003500450055006500

Trail Difficulty Scales Explained

Elevation Grade

8%

Fairly Steep

Paul Petzoldt Scale

16.6

Strenuous

5

10

15

Shenandoah Scale

262

Very Strenuous

50

100

150

Hiker Tips & Trivia

  • "Don't be surprised if you run into a pack train of llamas along the stretch between Trillium Gap and the summit. This section of trail is traveled three times a week by llama trains as they transport supplies to the LeConte Lodge." - HikingInTheSmokys.com

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Trail Map

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The above list of hiking trails in the Smokies is incomplete and constantly being updated. If you have information or photos you would like to contribute, please contact caroline@pigeonforge.com.

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