If you are looking for one of the easier hikes to a waterfall in the Smoky Mountains, this is the one for you. Perfect for all ages this hike is 2.6 miles roundtrip on a paved trail, with a steady climb but never overly steep.
Laurel Falls is very photogenic, especially after a good rain which is why we picked this day to hike it. I have never seen it with this much volume. It was absolutely beautiful!!
The day after we returned from Mt. LeConte it poured! We were very ready for a relaxing day so we spent the morning sitting on the deck with our coffee, watching the rain come down and turn the stream........
which normally looks like this......
Lots of firewood went floating by......
and even a chair. Hope that chair wasn't occupied at the time!
Laurel Falls is located about 3.5 miles west of the Sugarlands Visitor Center on Little River Road.
This is the most popular waterfall in the park and it shows. Parking is limited so it can be very hard to find a place to park unless you get there early. We have hiked this trail several times but avoid it during peak seasons or weekends. One day we counted close to 100 cars in the lot and parked beside the road. No way would I go at a busy time like that.
It is late afternoon by the time we feel the rain has passed and when we get to the trailhead, there are only a few cars left in the parking lot. We met a few people on their way down, and by the time we reached the falls it was deserted. Just the way we like it!
This trail isn't know for it's views which are almost nonexistent except for this one spot. It's fascinating to watch the fog drifting up and down and over the ridges but we don't have time to waste. When we left town the skies were clearing but it looks like it could rain again.
The 80 foot waterfall consists of an upper and a lower section, divided by a walkway which crosses the stream at the base of the upper falls.
Another shot of the upper falls. Laurel Falls gets it's name from the mountain laurel and rhododendron that grows in abundance along the trail and overhang the falls. This hike was in September so of course it's not in bloom but here is a picture of mountain laurel from my archives.
The trails are so pretty when mountain laurel or rhododendron are in bloom.
This is the best picture we could get of the entire waterfall. You can see the walkway that crosses the two sections.
About this time it started raining again. Not a gentle light rain either. I'm talking downpour!! It was a very wet hike back to the car but it was worth the hike to see the falls.