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Laurel Falls

Intermediate
 4.2 (6) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A mellow run along a paved path to the 80ft Laurel Falls—perhaps the most scenic waterfall in the Great Smokies!


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Map Key

2.5

Miles

4.1

KM

94%

Runnable

2,629' 801 m

High

2,290' 698 m

Low

351' 107 m

Up

351' 107 m

Down

5%

Avg Grade (3°)

9%

Max Grade (5°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Geological Significance · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Overview

At 2.5 miles round-trip, this trail provides easy access to one of the best waterfalls in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. With 350ft of ascent, it is a little bit of a climb to the falls, but it's entirely manageable—even for kids—and the effort rewards runners with excellent views.

If you are looking for trail running, keep in mind the first half of this trail is a paved/gravel trail, not dirt.

Need to Know

This is a very popular trail and parking can be limited, especially on weekends and peak summer weekdays.

Please stay on the trail and don't climb the rocks at and around the waterfall! This is a highly trafficked area, so try to minimize your impact. Climbing the rocks is dangerous and has resulted in serious injuries.

Black bears live in the park and visitors have encountered them before! Check with the NPS for further info and tips on how to behave if you do encounter a bear: nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/b…

Description

Turn off Highway #441 S at the Sugarlands Visitor Center onto Fighting Creek Gap Road. Continue along the road for about 3.5 miles and look for the obvious trailheads (there are two and the Laurel Falls Trail is on the right side of the road). The beginning of the trail is well-signed.

From the parking lot, begin running up the Laurel Falls Trail which gently winds its way along the mountainside. You'll pass through typical, lush Great Smoky Mountains foliage and cross a couple of creeks before reaching the falls. The falls have two parts, and a bridge crosses between them, offering a very close-up waterfall experience. Once you've had your fill at the falls, head back down to the trailhead. Or, if you'd like more of a run, continue up the Laurel Falls Trail to the Cove Mountain Fire Tower.

This trail is usable year-round, but the pavement is pretty rough in places and can be very slippery if it's wet, icy, or snow covered.

Flora & Fauna

You can find mountain laurel blooming along the trail during May, hence the name of the falls and the trail.

History & Background

This trail was originally paved in the 1930s for a project that aimed to pave routes all the way to the summit of Cove Mountain to provide access in the case of a fire. The project was never completed, and the trail is now paved to increase its durability given the popularity of Laurel Falls and the high visitation it receives.

Contacts

Shared By:

Amber Scott with improvements by Jonny Wayburn

Trail Ratings

  4.2 from 6 votes

#4

in Elkmont

#2889

Overall
  4.2 from 6 votes
5 Star
33%
4 Star
50%
3 Star
17%
2 Star
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1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#4

in Elkmont

#2,889

Overall
21 Views Last Month
572 Since Mar 2, 2020
Intermediate

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Photos

Laurel Falls by Smoky Moments Photography. Please don't attempt to climb on and around the falls. Several people have been seriously hurt falling on the slippery surfaces.
Oct 5, 2017 near Gatlinburg, TN
Great Smoky Mountains National Park - Laurel Falls
Jan 21, 2016 near Gatlinburg, TN
Laurel Falls Trail.
Nov 22, 2015 near Gatlinburg, TN
Great Smoky Mountains National Park - Laurel Falls.
Aug 4, 2016 near Gatlinburg, TN
Foliage along Laurel Falls Trail. with permission from Justin P
Aug 4, 2016 near Gatlinburg, TN
Laurel Falls as seen from it's namesake trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Nov 22, 2015 near Gatlinburg, TN

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