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the place of a thousand drips waterfall along roaring fork motor trail

6 Things to See Along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail


No doubt, the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is one of the best scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains. Why? It’s only 5.5 miles long, so it doesn’t take all day, but you can take extra time to get out and explore one of the many historic sites, trails, and overlooks. Read on to discover some of the things you’ll come across while driving along this peaceful road in the national park. 

1. Noah “Bud” Ogle Place

noah bud ogle cabinJust before you turn onto the motor trail, you’ll find the self-guided trail to the Noah “Bud” Ogle Cabin. You can easily walk the .7-mile loop to the cabin and back and admire the peaceful stream and wildflowers along the way. The homestead also features a “drive-through” barn, animal pens, and a unique tub mill beside the stream. 

2. Jim Bales Place (Alex Cole Cabin)

Jim Bales lived in the Roaring Fork Community until the national park was established in the 1930s. The cabin he built has been torn down, but in its place along the Roaring Fork Motor Trail sits the Alex Cole Cabin, which was moved from the Sugarlands area. 

3. Ephraim Bales Cabin

ephraim bales cabin The brother to Jim, Ephraim Bales built 2 cabins and connected them with 1 roof, where he lived with his wife and 9 children. This homestead still stands and is one of the more unique historic constructions in the Smoky Mountains.

4. Alfred Reagan Place & Tub Mill

Another location along the Roaring Fork Trail with some interesting Smoky Mountain history is the Alfred Reagan Place and the neighboring tub mill. Reagan was a “Jack of all trades”, as he was a farmer, carpenter, and blacksmith and also ran a local store and mill. The cabin stands out since it’s the only painted house along this nature trail.

5. Place of a Thousand Drips

One of the best things about this nature trail is the ability to enjoy the sights and sounds of rushing water over the rocks without getting out of your car! A particularly spectacular cascading waterfall on the side of the road is the Place of a Thousand Drips. After a heavy rain, the trickles of water turn into steady gushes, providing the best experience. 

6. Scenic Overlooks & Trailheads

As you drive, you’ll notice several pull-off areas to explore the surrounding area, and there are a couple of scenic overlooks in particular that make the perfect backdrop for photos! You can also find trailheads for the following trails along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail:

Where To Stay

You can find a place to stay close to all the attractions and restaurants in town, as well as all the exciting activities in the national park like the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. Browse our cabin rentals in Gatlinburg, with options from charming 1-bedroom cabins to large group cabin rentals with private indoor pools!