Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail Review




Ephraim Bales Cabin - Historic Motor Nature Trail


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Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail 

Ephraim Bales Cabin - Historic Motor Nature Trail
Photo by Eric is licensed under CC

Gatlinburg has really built themselves and the community around the mountains and the history of the mountains. It is very easy to see why when you see some of the buildings that are around here and the history that is present in the park and how well preserved the park has kept the buildings. With that being the case, we are going to cover more about Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. This is definitely going to be something you are going to enjoy because it is an area that you can enjoy from the comfort of your car if you want, but I would recommend taking some time and making a day of it and spending the day here just stopping at some of the trailheads, buildings, and even the creeks that you can walk down to if you are able to safely pull off the road.

Location Of Historic Nature Trail

Well, I will tell you that this is one place that does have a lot of signs that will help you find the trail. However, if you are not familiar with the area, you will want to go up the same road that Park Vista is off of. This road is going to be the one that you will find the Sidney James on as well. You will actually go past the entrance of both of these hotels and follow the road for a little ways. This road, once you get on the one way turns into the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail and you will just be able to follow this trail along and be able to see quite a bit and be able to enjoy the trail quite a bit more than what you imagined.

What Historic Properties Are On The Trail

As with most of the places that are special in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park you will find it does have a lot of historic buildings you can enjoy visiting. All of these places have some type of significance to the area as well. Since that is the case, we are going to have a list of the buildings that you can check out here so you know where you should be going or what you are going to have a chance to see when you are on the trail.

  • Noah Ogle Farmstead – This is a farmstead and one of the first in the area here. However, what you will find is this is a place that did have some unique ways to survive and if you are like most of us, well at least me, when you see the land that was here you will start to wonder just how hard life had to be settling the land as it is not the nicest of terrain.
  • Jim Bales Barn & Home – These two buildings are part of a farm and it will provide you some perspective in how harsh life could be in the region during the settlement time and allow you to really start to appreciate the changes we have in our modern life.
  • Ephraim Bales Barn & Pigpen – While a barn and a pigpen may not seem like they would be that interesting to look at, you need to realize the pig was the lifeblood of a farm back in the 1800’s. This is definitely an interesting stop because it really lets you see more about the way the animals were treated and protected in the early farmsteads.
  • Alfred Reagan House & Tub Mill – The house is small and the mill you will find is small as well. However, it is a place that really shows just how much people will struggle to get the chance to live in what I would consider paradise, but also lets you see how much people really loved the area to get the chance to live here.

What Kind Of Trailheads Are Present

If you are a hiker you will love the fact that you can find the Rainbow Falls Trailhead is here. This is a trail that is going to be about 5.4 miles long, but it is worth going on if you are going to do quite a bit of hiking and want to see some amazing waterfalls. I will warn you that you are going to need to bring along some strong hiking shoes with you and potentially a walking stick as well. Something else you will want to bring with you is going to be some type of food and water as the trail is one that can be hot during the summer days and you will not find a store anywhere nearby to give you water.

How Long Is The Trail/How Long Does It Take? 

The answer is going to be fairly tricky as the time it is going to take because it really depends on the traffic that is present on the trail. It also will depend on how long you spend stopping at various pull-offs, trails, or even the different places that you could check out when it comes to the buildings. So the time frame really is going to depend on some variables that you cannot really predict. As far as the distance, I will be honest I never really looked at my odometer before I went on the trail or when I got off of the trail, but I can tell you it is well worth the time it takes to cover the distance.

Is The Trail Kid Friendly?

I have to say this is a trail that kids may find enjoyable. If your kids love history and being in nature then they will like this trail. However, if your kids do not like being out and about then you will find the trail is one that can be difficult for you to keep up with at times with your kids. Also if you have a toddler that is potty training or a potty training youngster in general, then the trail will be one that can be a challenge as you will not find a restroom very easily for them to use. The good news is, though, the trail overall is one that your kids will enjoy because they are able to see quite a bit and do quite a bit and I think and know most kids will love this place.

What I Like About The Trail

I have to say I love the fact this is a trail you can enjoy in your car. This is very nice if you have some trouble walking, but also if you want to do something that is close to town and wants to kill some time while waiting for your restaurant to open, the museum you want to check out, or even getting a chance to go out and see some of the beautiful views you can get from the trail.

The historic buildings are definitely something that I really love. I know that for me I like to see these buildings and the care they are given, but it also helps keep my life in perspective and shows me that we are very blessed to have everything we have now. So that is definitely a major plus when you are looking at some of these buildings and compare what they considered a nice life to what we would think of as being a hard life.

Finally, I love the chance to just pull off at different places and just walk. Yes, this can be a challenge at times and if you are at the trailhead you will find nearly impossible to find a parking space. However, I love the fact that you can pull off at different places and just walk. I know that in one spot I would just pull off and walk down some rocks towards the water just to see what kind of wildlife I could find in the creek and it is pretty amazing what you can see.

What I Dislike With The Trail

As much as I love being able to drive on the trail I hate the fact that it can be so crowded at times. The problem is you will find it hard to find a parking space at the trailheads, but also find yourself totally missing the trail if you do not get in early enough. However, the best part is if you get up early it can be easy for you to find the trail empty, but you need to get up when the sun is just coming up as I went about 10 in the morning one day and it was already full!

My Final Thoughts On Historic Motor Nature Trail

I will say this is one trail that I do like in the park and it is one that is easy to access from Gatlinburg. With that being said, I do find this trail to be one that is starting to grow in popularity as well. However, I do love the fact that you can get to the trail quickly and easily and even get back to town without having to drive forever. Overall, I think the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is one you will enjoy and I would highly recommend this trail when you travel to Gatlinburg.

For more information check out Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail NPS Site.


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