If you’re looking for a nice and easy walk to a beautiful waterfall in the Smoky’s, Laurel Falls is it!
From the Sugarlands Visitor Center you turn toward Cades Cove on Little River Road and drive 3 1/2 miles to the falls trailhead where there is parking on both sides of the rode.
The trail itself is 2.6 miles round-trip and one of only 4 that are paved in the park. Total walking time is approximately 2hrs. The pavement is uneven and rough, but manageable for children though they will need close supervision as you approach the falls where there are steep drop-offs.
The Laurel Falls trail is paved because the trail was originally build to allow fire crews access to the Cove Mountain area in the event of a fire. The trail was completed in 1932 and cost $590 at the time with the fire tower being completed 3 years later. By the 1960s, Laurel Falls become popular as a hiking destination and saw enough traffic that erosion prompted the paving of the trail.
As part of our tour of the Smoky’s, the kids were excited to get in a waterfall hike! We quickly made our way up the paved trail and saw the various wildflowers, and “Fun-Gi(guy)’s” wildlife along the trail.
As you can see, signs are posted when you get closer to the falls giving you a heads up about the drop-offs so if you bring small children, please supervise them closely in this area. The views are beautiful and soon you’ll hear the characteristic sound of moving water….
As you approach the actual falls, you’ll cross a well built bridge with a viewing area. The day that we visited there was a Ranger available who was incredibly friendly and happy to answer questions by each visitor. We spoke with him for a short while and he explained that this was one of the, if not THE most highly trafficked areas in the park.
Laurel Falls Trail is an absolutely fantastic hike for families with small children or just anyone up for an easy and picturesque stroll in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.