About Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
Roaring Fork is one of the most popular driving tours in the Smoky Mountains. It gets its name from the large, fast stream that flows next to the trail — “Roaring Fork.” The motor nature trail is popular because you get to experience the wooded forestry views as well as some of the history of the national park.
The loop road driving trail is a little over 5 miles long, and you can make the adventure last as long as you want. You can take a fairly quick drive along the trail or you can spend time pulling off the trail to take photos and enjoy the mountain scenery. You should expect to spend at least 2 hours on the tour. If you plan to go hiking in the mountains, of course, expect to spend more time.
For the best experience along the Roaring Fork trail in the Smoky Mountains, stop by one of the national park visitor centers before you start your trip. At the visitor center, pick up one of the $1 guide books for the nature trail. It will guide you through the trail, explaining historic areas and parts of the forestry that you may not have noticed on a drive alone.
Keep in mind that Roaring Fork is closed in the winter months due to the ice and snow that cause dangerous driving conditions. In addition, no trucks, RVs or trailers are allowed along the motor nature trail because the road is extremely narrow.
Directions to the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
From the main Gatlinburg Parkway (Hwy 441), make a turn at stoplight #8. You will follow Historic Nature Trail Road to the Cherokee Orchard entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You will come upon signs to follow for the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. The motor trail makes a loop and ends in Gatlinburg. At the stop light, turn left onto Hwy 321 and you will return to the Gatlinburg Parkway.
Features to See on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
- Noah “Bud” Ogle cabin
- Steamside tubmill
- Preserved log cabins
- Historic buildings
- Diverse forestry
When the water is up in the spring, Roaring Fork Creek, which parallels the road much of the way, is definitely a sight to see. After a heavy rain, if you take the driving tour, you will truly see why the creek got its name.