Tuesday, June 18, 2013


When hiking in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which spans parts of North Carolina and Tennessee, one will encounter a trail with old-growth forest that runs behind a small waterfall. This beautiful area is called Grotto Falls. Grotto Falls are accessible on Trillium Gap Trail. The waterfall may be smaller than most, but it is beautiful nonetheless. I hiked this trail this past November, and found it exhilarating to be able to hide behind the falls and look through the rushing waters to the other side. This was especially refreshing after an uphill hike through uneven terrain! This is the only set of waterfalls in Great Smoky Mountains National Park that you are able to walk behind.

The falls are approximately 7.6 meters (25 feet) high, and the water drops 4.5 meters (15 feet) into a small pool below the rocky overhang of the falls. Waterfalls such as Grotto Falls are prevalent in the Smokies due to the high elevation of the land and plentiful rainfall in the area. The average rainfall in the entire elevated region amounts to approximately 216 centimeters (85 inches) per year. Specifically, the peaks of the Smoky Mountains, including Clingmans Dome, which is the highest point in the park, record over 2.4 meters (8 feet) of rain annually during wetter years. All of this water flows down the steep land gradient, and this downward flow results in the many large and small waterfalls in the mountainous region. There are at least ten very popular waterfalls in the park, including Grotto Falls, that are frequented by thousands of tourists annually; however, every river and stream has its own set of smaller waterfalls.

Photo courtesy of hickory hardscrabble via Flickr Creative Commons.





For more information on the geology of The Great Smoky Mountains, please see:https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=496176767110039&set=pb.352857924775258.-2207520000.1370293839.&type=3&theater

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