Laurel Falls Trail in Smoky Mountains National Park
Laurel Falls Trail
Before we made the trek up Mt. LeConte, we made sure to hit up a couple of other popular (and far easier) trails in the area. Laurel Falls fit the bill – near our Elkmont campsite, fairly easy and short – perfect for our last hike of the day.
- Scenery: 3.5
- Difficulty: 2.5
- Length: 2.6 miles
- Dog Friendly Factor: 0
- Convenience: 2.0
- Bonus Funtimes: 4.5
Scenery (3.5 out of 5.0): Laurel Falls is a lovely spot at the end of a fairly easy trail and nicely scenic. Since we were on this trail in late June, we lucked into catching the laurels in bloom – the fully blossomed laurels contrasted to the rocky terrain really was a beautiful sight. Unfortunately when we got to the falls, there were dozens of people crowding the very small falls which made it a little less special, but we still got some good pictures.
The hike back down from the falls provides the best chance to catch several nice views of the surrounding Smoky Mountains.
Difficulty (2.0 out of 5.0): The NPS website rates this trail as moderately difficult, which is probably accurate for inexperienced hikers. However, while there is a decent incline the entire way to the falls (350 ft. elevation gain over 1.3 miles), the trail is paved and very easy to maneuver. There were some elderly visitors on the trail who were understandably struggling, but most hikers of all ages and fitness levels managed pretty well.
One note of caution – although the trail is technically paved, it is not well-maintained. The trail book that we read talked about how this would be an easy trail for wheelchair-bound hikers… due to the poor state of the paved trail, this may not be the easiest trail for wheelchair visitors.
Length: 2.6 miles (it took us about an hour)
Dog Friendly Factor (0 out of 5.0): Sorry pups, but dogs are not allowed on hiking trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Convenience (2.0 out of 5.0): While it’s a 4 hour trek from Nashville to the Smokies, the trailhead for Laurel Falls is very easy to access and is located right off one of the main roads in the park.
Bonus Funtimes (4.5 out of 5.0): The Great Smoky Mountains National Park will certainly keep you entertained. There are dozens of campgrounds and seemingly hundreds of trails. If lazing on the river is your preference, there are plenty of tubing outfitters and a few kayaking spots.