During our family #LateSummerVacay trip to Pigeon Forge, we ventured out into the Great Smoky Mountains. We are not the outdoorsy type, but thankfully the Roaring Fork Nature Motor Trail helped ease our introduction into mountain hiking. And off the driving trail is the start of Trillium Gap Trail. This novice to medium difficulty trail leads to an easily accessible waterfall.

This is the story of how I convinced my family to hike to Grotto Falls.

They were already in a good mood and having a great time from our other activities. On this trip, we also visited Dolly Parton’s Stampede and Dollywood. They were looking forward to another awesome activity on the last day of our vacation.

Prepare Mentally

I knew I had to get them in the right mindset for the hike. So, I didn’t tell them it was 1.4 miles one way and all uphill. That might seem a little deceptive. And it is. But if I told them, “Hey, guys, we’re going to walk uphill for 45 minutes to see some water, and possibly run into a black bear on the way,” mutiny was certain.

The complaints began about 25 minutes into the hike when we ran into other hikers on their way back down the mountain. I expected a few. But while they fussed about the hike to Grotto Falls, once they got there the complaints ended. Seeing an actual waterfall up close and in person is an awesome experience. It was worth it.

Use The Bathroom

Roaring Fork Nature Motor Trial is a 6 mile one way loop into a historic section of the Great Smoky Mountains. The last thing we did before we drove the 20 minutes through Pigeon Forge was use the bathroom.

Once on the trail we made a few other stops to take photos and watch for black bears before we headed to Grotto Falls. At the start of Trillium Gap Trail is a rest area with “bathrooms.” We braved the port-o-potty style facilities to ensure we didn’t have to squat on the trail. 😳

Bring Food and Water

It’s the mountains and the trail 1.4 miles one way. Even for most ourdoorsy family that’s going to take a while. I was sure to pack food and water. Especially snacks that can be consumed on the move.

Dress Comfortably

I didn’t adequately prepare us for hiking in the attire arena. This was partly by design – remember I had to convince them we we’re going to have a great time.

Sturdier shoes shoes, sweat towels, absorbent layers and a walking stick for the uphill climb would have been super helpful. But we’re amateur hikers. Denim isn’t a bad choice – it’s sturdy, durable and won’t catch or snag. But it’s heavy, holds heat and miserable when wet. Next time we’ll do better.

I caught Harold enjoying his walk behind the waterfall. #winning

Take Breaks

I’m not going on lie – I underestimated the effort it would take to hike 1.4 miles on an incline. I was so pumped by the idea of getting to walk behind a live waterfall I did not process the uphill climb aspect of the hike. It’s uphill. Did I mention it’s 1.4 miles uphill? We took breaks when we needed them.

Take Pictures

When we finally got close to the waterfall and could hear the rush of the water the girls got really excited. It was more than they expected it to be.

Want instant Instagram cred? Post a picture of you drinking a waterfall. LOL Even if you’re not looking for social media fame, capturing the moment you crested a mountain and walked behind a waterfall goes a long way in the memory making department.

Even though it was a trek to get there, and not an easy one, my entire family loved it hike to Grotto Falls. Now I’ve got to find something else to trick them into. 😃

What’s the best thing you ever made your family do that they didn’t want to do?