“An excellent trail that cuts through old logging land that follows a creek with many waterfalls.
— Charles Pulse
Cave · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Waterfall
This trail follows a ravine along a creek. The trail is rough and at some points very narrow, so care should be taken, especially with young runners. There are several points of interest such as caves, waterfalls, and a scenic overlook. Summers can be hot but there are caves along the trail that offer a cool down and rest spot. Take plenty of water or a good water filtration system. Consider this a strenuous route.
The trailhead is located on the north end of the parking lot and is clearly designated with signs. The trail cuts across a forest, quickly meeting up with Big Laurel Creek. It then follows and crosses the creek to the first waterfall, Big Branch Falls. After a cable crossing of Big Laurel Creek, the trail narrows and stays high on the ravine for some distance. In this part, the trail crosses a boulder field and eventually meets back up with the creek. As the Big Laurel Creek flows downward, the trail follows the creek and becomes very narrow. During this section, it passes caves, several small rock houses and a junction to a side trail to an overlook and to Martha's Pretty Point.
At about the 2 1/2-mile mark, the trail brings you to the base of Big Laurel Falls. Tent camping is available here, and this is a good place to camp. The trail continues away from Big Laurel Falls on and up the side of the ravine of the Caney Fork River. Continue on, and the trail will pass a couple of small caves and waterfalls.
This trail ends at the Virgin Falls Loop Trail
at the 3.4-mile mark.
Flora & Fauna
You will find a hardwood forest in the fern-dominated upper portion of the trail. In the gorge, the vegetation changes to hemlock, maples, oaks, tulip poplar, hickories, buckeye, basswood, cherry, yellow birch, sycamore, and many more species. Mountain laurel, magnolia, and several other shrubs (such as various wild blueberries) are common along the trail.