Dogs No Dogs
Birding · Fall Colors · Geological Significance · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Short, mellow, and rewarding, this trail is a perfect outing for families—just know that there are some steeper drop offs so keep an eye on your little ones! Not stroller accessible.
At 2.5 miles round-trip, this trail provides easy access to one of the best waterfalls in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. With 350ft of ascent, it is a little bit of a climb to the falls, but it's entirely manageable—even for kids—and the effort rewards hikers with excellent views.
If you are looking for trail running, keep in mind the first half of this trail is a paved/gravel trail, not dirt.
Need to Know
This is a very popular trail and parking can be limited, especially on weekends and peak summer weekdays.
Please stay on the trail and don't climb the rocks at and around the waterfall! This is a highly trafficked area, so try to minimize your impact. Climbing the rocks is dangerous and has resulted in serious injuries.
Black bears live in the park and visitors have encountered them before! Check with the NPS for further info and tips on how to behave if you do encounter a bear: nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/b…
Turn off Highway #441 S at the Sugarlands Visitor Center onto Fighting Creek Gap Road. Continue along the road for about 3.5 miles and look for the obvious trailheads (there are two and the Laurel Falls Trail
is on the right side of the road). The beginning of the trail is well-signed.
From the parking lot, begin hiking up the Laurel Falls Trail
which gently winds its way along the mountainside. You'll pass through typical, lush Great Smoky Mountains foliage and cross a couple of creeks before reaching the falls. The falls have two parts, and a bridge crosses between them, offering a very close-up waterfall experience. Once you've had your fill at the falls, head back down to the trailhead. Or, if you'd like more of a hike, continue up the Laurel Falls Trail
to the Cove Mountain Fire Tower
This trail is usable year-round, but the pavement is pretty rough in places and can be very slippery if it's wet, icy, or snow covered.
Flora & Fauna
You can find mountain laurel blooming along the trail during May, hence the name of the falls and the trail.
History & Background
This trail was originally paved in the 1930s for a project that aimed to pave routes all the way to the summit of Cove Mountain to provide access in the case of a fire. The project was never completed, and the trail is now paved to increase its durability given the popularity of Laurel Falls
and the high visitation it receives.
Shared By: Amber Scott