If you live anywhere near East Tennessee and don’t consider yourself an “outdoorsy” person, there’s a good chance you’ve felt left out of activities your more nature loving friends enjoy. Thankfully, we have a solution for you! Laurel Falls Trail is the perfect Smoky Mountains hike if traditional hiking is not your cup of tea. Here’s why:
- The path is paved
Hallelujah – a hike that doesn’t involve mud or dirt! The Laurel Falls trail is 100% paved, so there’s no guessing which way the path continues or stomping through the mud if it rained that week. The path is so well maintained, you could wear brand new tennis shoes without having to worry if they’ll get dirty.
- It’s completely in the shade
This is what really makes Laurel Falls great – no sweating! Even on a hot summer day in Tennessee, it’s totally possible to do this hike without breaking a sweat. This trail is placed so perfectly through the mountains that it is shaded by huge trees the entire way.
- It’s only 2.3 miles roundtrip
Hikers will climb roughly 314 feet in elevation before arriving at the 80-foot waterfall. That means it’s only 1.15 miles to the top of the mountain with a beautiful waterfall view, and the second 1.15 miles is all downhill. It really doesn’t get better than that (especially if hiking is not your first idea of a fun afternoon). The hike is well worth it – especially if you want the perfect picture right in front of a waterfall!
These three reasons are also what makes this trail perfect if you have younger kids you’re looking to introduce to hiking. The path is clearly defined, they won’t get too hot, and it doesn’t take long to complete (1-2 hours depending on pace).
Getting to Laurel Falls Trail
From the Sugarlands Visitor Center in Gatlinburg, drive 3.8 miles to the top of Fighting Creek Gap. The main parking lot for Laurel Falls will be on your right, with the option for additional parking across the street. If you’ve ever been to Cades Cove, it’s right next door! Plan to visit both if you’re looking to make a full day out of it.