Laurel Falls is a very popular tourist destination, so plan to go early if you want to avoid the crowds. The moderate hike is 2.5 miles round trip and the trail is paved for most of the way, but I'm not sure why. It's OK for kids, but parents need to keep a very close watch on the younger ones. There are several steep drop offs along the trail and at the waterfall. The upper section of Laurel Falls (above image) is about 20' high.
Directions: From the Sugarlands Visitor Center, drive west on Little River Rd (TN73) for 3.8 miles and look for the parking areas on both sides of the road. The trail begins on the right side of the road. Parking spaces are limited, so you may not find one if you go mid day during tourist season. You can also pull off and park along the road unless signs indicate otherwise.
The trail begins with a gradual ascent, and at 1/2 a mile from the parking area it crosses Pine Knot Branch. In a short distance after the crossing, the trail levels out and takes a big turn to the right (north). From here, the left side of the trail drops very steeply down towards Laurel Branch while the right side of the trail is lined with beautiful rock outcroppings. The trail splits the waterfall in half and crosses Laurel Branch on a concrete bridge. The more adventurous hiker will begin wondering how to get down to the base of the lower section. Just before the waterfall is a steep non-official trail that heads down. That's one way, but you can also go past the waterfall and around to another steep non-official trail that will get you to the same place.
lower section of Laurel Falls
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