The 80 feet high Laurel Falls and the Laurel Branch were named for mountain Laurel which is an evergreen shrub that blooms near the falls and along the trail in the month of May. The waterfall is divided into two sections, the lower and the upper section by a walkway that crosses the stream at the base of the upper falls. Laurel Falls is one of the most popular destinations in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. And the parking at the trailhead is limited. This place is busy during weekends and year-round, especially in summer.
Hike to the Laurel Falls Trail
Laurel Falls Trail was built in 1932 to offer fire crews access to the Cove Mountain area in the forest fire event. Laurel Falls has become a famous hiking destination for visitors.
You will have to start from Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg and turn towards the Cades Cove on Little River Road. Then you will have to take a drive for about 3.5 miles to the trailhead where there are parking places on both sides of the road.
The distance to the waterfall is about 2.6 miles and going for a hike takes about 2 hours to the waterfalls and to get back. But the hike is worth and the falls are considered to be the best waterfall hikes in the Smoky Mountains. You will have to carry plenty of water. Bicycles and pets are not allowed on the trailhead.
You can see the trail which is paved but the pavement is uneven and rough. The trail is short and has steep sections which are slippery during wet seasons. Few portions of the trail have steep drop-offs. If you are taking your children, you will have to be careful and the trail is not suitable for wheelchairs and strollers because of the roughness of the pavement. Bears are often active in this area.
If you wish to take amazing photographs of the waterfall, you will have to plan your hike in the early morning or late in the evening.
Check out the other popular places to visit in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park