Laurel Falls at Laurel Snow Pocket Wilderness

November 28, 2011 in Tennessee Hiking Trails by amylaree

Laurel Snow Pocket Wilderness Trail Signs

Laurel Snow: Pick your waterfall.

Thanksgiving weekend took us to spend a few days with good friends in Chattanooga… along with 3 turkeys, 3 pies, and a smorgasbord  of potatoes, stuffing & gravy and more.   With our bellies overly-stuffed from Thanksgiving dinner , we waddled our way up to Laurel Snow Pocket Wilderness just outside of Dayton, TN to work off the feast.

  1. Scenery:  3.5
  2. Difficulty:  3.0
  3. Length:  ~6 miles
  4. Dog Friendly Factor: 3.5
  5. Convenience:  1.5
  6. Bonus Funtimes: 3.5
Laurel Falls at Laurel Snow Pocket Wilderness

Laurel Creek tumbling from Laurel Falls

Scenery (3.5 out of 5.0):  As the term implies, this Pocket Wilderness is tucked away from just about everything else outside of Dayton, TN.  Starting in the parking lot, you’re met with a beautiful boulder-strewn river.  Replenished from rains earlier in the week, the creek was moderately full on the day we hiked, making for plenty of rapids and scenic spots.

Laurel Snow Pocket Wilderness offers a couple of options for catching waterfalls in action.  This time out, we chose the path to Laurel Falls, an 80-foot waterfall 2.4 miles into the wilderness.  The path up to the falls alternates between smooth and rocky-strewn paths that cross over a variety of streams and small boulder’ish fields.

Once we made it up to Laurel Falls, there are several large boulders that are perfect for resting and taking in the view and mist of the waterfall.  These spots were already occupied by other hikers (Laurel Falls was VERY popular this day), so we climbed over some boulders and made it to the base of the falls where we got a great view of the water tumbling down from Laurel Creek.

Laurel Snow Pocket Wilderness

Crawling up to the falls.

After the falls, we headed up to the ridge toward Bryan Overlook.  While we couldn’t make it all the way to Bryan Overlook, we did get a great view of the canyon.

Difficulty (3.0 out of 5.0):  The path up to Laurel Falls is very well marked and while it’s a pretty consistent climb, it’s never very difficult.  There were people of all ages and abilities on the trail up to Laurel Falls when we were there.  However, if you are planning to go up to the ridge and out to Bryan Overlook, your legs will get more of a workout.

The trail up to the ridge top definitely got our blood pumping with a fairly steep ascent and a few boulders to crawl over.  I was thankful for the gripping capability of my hiking shoes – if it’s been raining or snowing, this trail could be a bit more difficult from slippery rocks or wet leaves.

Once on the ridge top, our path up to Bryan Overlook was cut short since Laurel Creek was running on this day (hence the great view of the falls).   The creek wasn’t roaring and we could’ve crossed it to get to the overlook, but neither Nate nor I wanted to listen to me complain about sopping wet shoes during the descent back to the parking lot.

Laurel Snow Pocket Wilderness

Overlook of Laurel Snow Pocket Wilderness

Length: ~6 miles (it took us about 2.5 – 3.0 hours w/plenty of stops for exploring)

Dog Friendly Factor (3.5 out of 5.0):  Ezra and Coltrane were hanging out in Nashville, so we hit this trail sans dogs, but there were plenty of pooches hiking that day — including quite a few small dogs.

The path to Laurel Falls includes a 50-foot metal bridge that’s slotted/see-through design might have bothered bridge-adverse Ezra the Dog.  However, even if the bridge had been an issue for Ezra, the water levels on the creek were low enough (and boulders big enough) that we could have found ways to scurry across the creek without too much trouble.

Getting up to the ridge top would’ve been another issue, though.  The climb can be fairly steep at times and lacks very many options for dogs to get any footing to maneuver their way up the boulders.  55 lb Coltrane may have been able to do it, but 100 lb Ezra wouldn’t have been able to make his way up to the top of the ridge.

Laurel Snow Pocket Wilderness

Making our descent

Aside from getting up to the overlooks, this trail is very dog friendly with plenty of spots for the dogs to get water and cool down.

Convenience (1.5 out of 5.0):  Directions to the Pocket Wilderness are pretty straight forward, but from Nashville it would take a couple of hours to get to the trail head.  From Chattanooga it’s about a 45 minute drive.

Bonus Funtimes (3.5 out of 5.0):  This tucked away spot offers plenty of options for outdoor fun. There are plenty of calm pools in the river to take a dip on a hot summer day.   These trails make a good place for a short backpacking outing and there’s also camping spots at the top of the ridge.  If you can find them, there are also rock climbing spots near Snow Falls.   We packed a lunch (leftover turkey sandwiches) and picnicked by the river on this sunny November day.


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