At the time I’m writing this, Laurel Falls is actually ranked #12 out of 28 attractions in Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Trip Advisor. Lynn and I decided to go to Laurel Falls after reading about some of the things to see in the national park. We were looking for a nice hike that wasn’t too long because we only had a couple days to do some sight seeing. We wanted to make sure we did as much as we possibly could, so a short hike to a waterfall sounded perfect.
We were visiting the Smoky Mountains in late September (just before the leaves changed color), but it was still pretty busy. There were a lot of cars at the little parking area for Laurel Falls and even some cars parked along the side of the road. I got lucky when we arrived and just happened to see a spot open up right next to the start of the trail. I swooped in and took it as fast as I could, beating out a group of tourists in a minivan that were coming from the other direction. Below is a pretty dumb photo of me showing off my prime parking spot.
The Hike to Laurel Falls
The hike to Laurel Falls is actually just a little over a mile, but the majority of the hike is uphill. The trail is paved, but if you read any other reviews online you’ll see a lot of people talking about the deteriorating condition of the trail. It wasn’t terrible (I’ve definitely seen worse) but there were some rough patches that could cause issues for some people.
The hike is fairly scenic although we didn’t see any wildlife during our hike to the falls. It really is a nice quiet hike through the woods and as you climb higher there are some nice views of the nature surrounding you.
I’m not going to say that I was disappointed, but I remember when we got to Laurel Falls I was wondering if it was the actual falls or if there was more to see beyond that. It seemed smaller than I thought it would be and I think a lot of that had to do with the amount of water that was running over the falls. I’m pretty sure it was sort of weak when we were there because I’ve seen some other pictures where the water flow is a lot stronger. It makes the falls seem a lot more powerful.
Either way, it was still a nice waterfall. We spent a few minutes looking around and asked someone to take a picture of us in front of the falls. After that we were on our way back down the trail, which took us a lot less time considering it was almost all downhill to get back to the parking area.
Overall, I think Laurel Falls is a nice little hike that is good for families with kids or people that are looking for a short relaxing hike. I can’t really compare it to any other waterfalls in the area because this was the only one we actually hiked to. This road trip to the Smoky Mountains was just the start of our fascination with waterfalls. We usually try to find at least one waterfall on trips that we take… some of our favorites are in the Michigan Upper Peninsula and just outside of Portland, Oregon. I’m sure we’ll be adding to that list soon though…