And one of them is Laurel Falls, one of the great waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains!
Laurel Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Its proximity to Gatlinburg likely helps with the popularity.
This waterfall hike will also include scenic views of the Smoky Mountains along the way!
Share the Laurel Falls video with the people you’ll be hiking in the Smoky Mountains with!
More pictures from the hiking trail below, but first…
Basics about the trail to Laurel Falls
You’ll take the Laurel Falls Trail to get to the waterfalls. The hiking trail is an uneven paved trail.
The distance of this hiking trail to Laurel Falls is around 2.6 miles round trip.
It’s officially recommended to give yourself around 2 hours to complete the hike to Laurel Falls and back. How much time you spend on the trail can depend on your fitness level, how many stops you make, and how long you spend at the waterfalls! Bring along a light picnic lunch, and you can find a spot to eat on a rock in front of the waterfalls!
This trailhead is located on the way to the scenic drive on Little River Road. If you’re going to the popular scenic drive of the Cades Cove Loop Road (drive it, bike it, or walk it!), then Laurel Falls is also on the way.
Being popular waterfalls, you may also have to walk extra for parking. (A little bit more on this below.)
Self-guided tour of Laurel Falls Trail
At the trailhead, you’ll find a little tour booklet (nature trail guide) that can give you more info about the plants and landscape you’ll see as you’re walking.
There are sign posts that will correspond with information that you can read aloud to your group along the way!
The tour book at Laurel Falls costs $0.50 so bring along quarters so you can pay for it! You can also find them at a Great Smoky Mountains National Park visitor center. If you still have time before your Smoky Mountains vacation, you can order the Laurel Falls self-guided tour booklet online, along with the Smokies starter kit of tour booklets.
There are these types of booklets you can find at different areas of the park, so if this sort of thing interests you, it’s good to make sure you bring along dollar bills for your trip to the Smoky Mountains!
No dogs on the trail to Laurel Falls
In general, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is not a pet-friendly park when it comes to hiking trails. Pets are not allowed on the vast majority of hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains, and that includes the Laurel Falls Trail.
There are bears in the area around Laurel Falls
According to the National Park Service:
In 2010, a bear bit a visitor on Laurel Falls Trail.
Fortunately, the visitor’s injuries were minor, but sadly the park was forced to euthanize the bear.
The risk that she would attack another visitor was too great.
“A fed bear is a dead bear.” If bears start to recognize human food as bear food, they can become a serious threat to humans – to you! If that happens, a bear may have to be put to rest for good. This is why it’s said to be important that everyone does their part to pick up after themselves.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is bear country! Read more about the possible reason that there was a bear attack on Laurel Falls Trail.
Toilets at Laurel Falls trailhead
There are no bathroom facilities directly at the Laurel Falls trailhead. The nearest bathroom seems to be the Sugarlands Visitor Center, a 10 minute drive away.
Driving to the Laurel Falls trailhead
So again, your destination for google maps can be the Laurel Falls trailhead.
As you’re approaching, you’ll come across signs for Laurel Falls.
There are small parking lots on both sides of the main road. If this is full, you’ll basically just keep driving until you find a spot to park on the gravel shoulder of the road.
Side note! See the more of the Smoky Mountains:
- Best shoes for hiking in the Smoky Mountains
- Best hikes with VIEWS in the Smoky Mountains
- Best scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains
- Driving the scenic route from Gatlinburg to Clingman's Dome
- Driving the slow scenic route from Gatlinburg to Cades Cove
- The big list of things to do in the Smoky Mountains
PHOTOS for a little bit of what to expect when hiking the trail to Laurel Falls!
I hiked to Laurel Falls in late September 2020. Pictures are from that time. There was not as much water flow at the waterfalls!
Laurel Falls Trail to Laurel Falls, 1.3 miles away.
Laurel Falls Trail to Little Greenbrier Trail, 3.1 miles away.
Laurel Falls Trail to Cove Mountain Trail, 4.0 miles away.
As you’re getting closer to the waterfalls, there will also be a spot where you can see scenic views of the Smoky Mountains!
And then the views of the mountains are also an indication that you are almost near the waterfalls! You have maybe less than 10 minutes to go.
And you’ve made it to the waterfalls!
You can enjoy the view from trail, and then you can also climb down (carefully!) for a bit of a resting spot in front of the waterfalls!
If you’re climbing or stepping on any rocks, take care, as rocks can be slippery and/or unstable! It’s best to test out a rock or log to see if it moves before you put your full weight on it.
And then once you’ve spent enough time at the waterfalls… you’ll head back the way you came!
And that’s a bit of what it’s like on the hike to Laurel Falls!
Be sure to see the list of more great waterfall hikes in the Smoky Mountains!
See more great hikes in the Smoky Mountains that come with VIEWS!
See more about stops to make on your drive from Gatlinburg to Cades Cove.
HAPPY HIKING TO SEE LAUREL FALLS!
Best shoes for hiking in the Smoky MountainsYou will want good shoes for hiking in the Smoky Mountains.
In general, the best shoes for hiking in the Smoky Mountains will be hiking boots (more ideal) or trail running shoes (more versatile for everyday activities compared to hiking boots but still will give you advantages compared to regular shoes).
I liked wearing my hiking boots for the thicker soles (good on rocky trails) and the waterproof (water resistant) nature of them.
They were especially helpful on rainy day hikes to keep my shoes (and socks!) dry! They are also better to be walking on mud compared to regular shoes.
On rougher terrain (like the trails that are a bit rougher with more rocks), hiking boots are more ideal so you won't feel it on the bottoms of your feet as much.
If you want shoes that can work out better as everyday "out and about" kind of shoes, then you might like trail running shoes better! Trail running shoes are a little more durable than regular shoes, so they can also work out as good hiking shoes. Trail running shoes are a bit lighter weight and less bulky compared to hiking boots.
Shoe fit is very important for your feet! Be sure to break in your new shoes by walking around the neighborhood and/or at the grocery store before you go on your "big hike" in the Smoky Mountains!