Hiking Laurel Falls in the Smoky Mountains

During May of 2021, Teddy and I took a road trip down to through the southeastern US traveling through 7 states. One of those states was Tennessee where we were both able to visit Smoky Mountains National Park again and hike at Laurel Falls. This is one of our favorite shorter hikes with a beautiful waterfall waiting for you at the top. Here’s some info if you’re considering this hike while in the Smoky Mountain area.

Reservations: When we visited in May, there wasn’t a trail reservation system in place but that has recently changed as parks are seeing record numbers of visitors the last two years. Beginning September 7th, you can go to recreaction.gov to book your spot to park at the trailhead. It’s $12 per person with a $2 service fee. There’s a required parking pass from the hours of 8am-5:30pm. Because of sunrise, and sunset times this fall, you could try to hike prior or after the time slots, but may not have as much lighting on your way up or back. If you can’t get a reservation, there is a Rocky Top Shuttle service you can look into using.

Trail Info:

  • Round trip, the trail is about 2.6 miles
  • It’s kind of paved, but is very broken off in sections, so I wouldn’t consider this fully stroller or wheelchair friendly
  • Dogs aren’t allowed in the trail
  • Near the top by the falls, the rocks are very slippery even though they may not look like it. We saw a few people slide while up there.
  • On the way up, there’s some views about the tree line where you can see some of the other mountains
  • The trail links to the Cove Mountain and the Little Greenbriar Trails if you keep going past the falls

Tips:

  • Go early. We got there by 8 am and in May on a Friday morning and parking was still available.
  • Wear sneakers or hiking boots. While you could do it in sandals, it’s not ideal.
  • There have been blackbear seen in the area so be cautious while hiking.
  • Bring some snacks and water depending on how much time you plan to spend.
  • For kiddos, either have them walk or to the backpack thing as strollers are going to be off-roading on this one.
  • Be prepared to hike uphill. It’s steep.

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