Laurel Falls Trail – Hiking in the Smokies

October 24, 2010
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Laurel Falls, Smoky Mountains Trails

Distance: 1.3 Miles (one way) to falls

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

The Laurel Falls hiking trails is one of many beautiful waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains, and the area around it.

The hike to these falls follows along a paved trail, and provides for some beautiful views of the Smoky Mountains, before reaching a 75 foot waterfall.

On really cold days during the winter, the falls can freeze for some very cool (no pun intended) views of a frozen waterfall.

On the last day I hiked this trail, it was 9 degrees Fahrenheit. The frozen falls was magnificent.

Begin this trail at a parking area along Old River Road. Across the street from this area are a series of other trails (the Sugarland Mountain Trails, containing Huskey Gap Trail, Rough Creek Trail, and a 12 mile approach to the Appalachian Trail).

Laurel Falls

Laurel Falls Laurel Falls

From the parking area, a sign indicates the trailhead of the path, and provides a little information about the trail.

The sign indicates that trail’s length and lets hikers know he or she will be ascending around 300 feet in elevation, and that the average walking time is 40 minutes.

The sign also provides a nice picture of the falls prior to the addition of a footbridge crossing over Laurel Branch.

Laurel Falls

Initially, the trail’s ascent climbs slowly upwards while running parallel to Old River Road.

Laurel Falls Laurel Falls Laurel Falls

If hiking this trail in the winter, I have to recommend hiking it in the early morning. if there is any snow on the mountain, the dichotomy between the ridges that the sun has began to bathe versus those remaining in the shadows longer in the day is really interesting to see.

Laurel Falls Laurel Falls Laurel Falls

Once the trail begins to gain elevation and turn back into the ridge, some beautiful, expansive views of the Smoky Mountains can be seen.

Laurel Falls Laurel Falls Laurel Falls

Laurel Falls Laurel Falls

There are also some interesting boulders along the trail, the first of which is just after the above overlooks.

Laurel Falls

Continue deep into the mountain ridge along the paved trail, passing several rock boulders. The vast overlooks of the Smokies gets noticeably farther away, and in many ways more impressive.

Laurel Fall Laurel FallsLaurel Falls

On the trails final ascent, it opens back up to even wider, clearer views.

Laurel Falls

Laurel Falls

Laurel Falls

Laurel Falls

The trail then makes a quick descent down to the waterfall.

Laurel Falls

On the descent, one can see the first views of Laurel Branch.

Laurel Falls

Finally, the falls are reached…

IMG_2246 Laurel Falls Laurel Falls

Laurel Falls Laurel Falls Laurel Falls IMG_2258 Laurel Falls Laurel Falls

Laurel Falls

The trail may be continued for an additional 2. 9 miles on an trail that is no longer paved. This portion of the trail will intersect with Little Greenbrier Trail, and will be addressed in the future on that trail’s article. The trail was a little to icey to  be continued on this particular morning.

Laurel Falls

Nearby Trails:

Huskey Gap Trail – 3.1 miles

Rough Creek Trail – 7.2 miles

Little Greenbrier Trail – 3.1 miles

Cove Mountain Trail – 4.0 miles

Appalachian Trail – 2175 mile

Directions to Laurel Falls:

1. Follow 441 to the Sugarland Visitor Center just outside of Gatlinburg, TN.

2. Turn right at the Visitor Center and continue down Little River Road for 3.9 miles.

3. The parking area is on right.

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One Response to Laurel Falls Trail – Hiking in the Smokies

  1. […] To the right of the falls, a trail continues 8.6 miles to Laurel Falls. […]

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