I recently had an opportunity to hike the trail to Laurel Falls, an 80-foot tall waterfall on the Cumberland Plateau, near Dayton, Tennessee.
It’s 6.1 miles out and back, most of which parallels either Richland Creek or Laurel Creek. Hence, the sound of running water permeates both gorges and forest landscape. By contrast with hikes at many different locations, the size and frequency of massive boulders strewn along both creeks – some as tall as 50-feet – is stunning.
I arrived early, on the trial at 7:19 a.m. and with a 32-degree fahrenheit temperature. To stay warm, I walked without stopping until I reached Laurel Falls. Alone at the waterfall for the entirety of my visit, I would later spend a good deal of time traversing Laurel Creek down the mountain, over and around large rocks, where I discovered some wonderful smaller falls and cascades.
If you’re considering a hike to the Laurel-Snow State Natural Area, I can recommend it as being one of my favorites – no matter ones age or conditioning, there’s so much to enjoy!
If you’d like to accent a wall in your home or office with a print featuring my photography, you can visit my gallery at Fine Art America to select the print type which best suits your interests – framed, canvas, art, poster, metal, wood, acrylic and tapestry.
More Views From Laurel Creek
With some exceptions, hikers can expect mostly hard pack soil and generally small rocks along the trail for the initial two miles. After crossing what appears to be a new aluminum bridge, the trail becomes much rockier on an inclined surface for the remaining mile.
The drive into the park is somewhat challenging, with deep crevasses from erosion, and a sign reminding visitors that the road is “unimproved”. Proceed with caution at a slow speed. There are no restrooms. The park closes at 7:00 p.m.. Permits are required for camping.
It’s an easy 2.6 mile out and back hike along a paved trail, though the pavement it quite eroded. Measuring both upper and lower sections of Laurel Falls – which are divided by a railed pathway – the waterfall stands 80-feet tall and provides several scenic viewpoints, if one is willing to climb to the base.
On my visit, I was the first car parked in the lot…by 3 minutes. Capturing photographs without people in the picture requires one to arrive early, so I showed up 1/2 hour before sunrise. Bears are common in this area, though less so once a steady stream of hikers are present. No water. No restrooms.
The trail was completed in 1932 at a cost of $590, providing fire crews access to the Cove Mountain area. Three years later, a fire tower was completed. By 1960, frequent trail use and erosion were problematic, and, as part of the 1963 Accelerated Works Projects grant to the Department of Interior, the trail was paved. Today, with over 800 miles of trails within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, only four trails are paved for a total of three miles.
If you’d like to accent a wall in your home or office with a print featuring my photography, you can visit my gallery at Fine Art America to select the print type which best suits your interests. Many selections available – I hope that you find something to purchase & enjoy!
Laurel Falls stands 25-feet tall and is a short hike along a trail which begins behind the Stone Door Ranger Station…
This is a scenic hike suitable for all ages, with a small observation platform and easy access to the top of the falls. I couldn’t find an obvious path to the base of the falls, however, and there aren’t any safety rails – so, children and pets should be monitored closely.
Parking is close with handicap spaces available. There is a restroom and information billboard, also. If interested in a somewhat longer hike, you might consider an adjoining trailhead to The Stone Door.
If you’d be interested in a print of any kind, visit my shop at Pixels.
Wow! I’ve hiked many areas in the state, but so far none can compare to the plethora of waterfalls as found along the Laurel-Snow Trail To Laurel Falls, located near Dayton, TN.
From the moment I stepped out my vehicle and on to the trail, the sound of running water was loud, present throughout my hike. Though alltrails.com lists the hike at 6.1 miles out and back, a placard at the trailhead cites the total distance as 5 miles. Whatever the case, I definitely added another mile or two exploring off trail – there were photography opportunities around every corner!
The road into the park is filled (no pun intended) with potholes – it’s somewhat of an obstacles course. Thus, drive slowly with caution around sharp turns near steep hills.
Richland Creek was full, with a wonderful blue-green coloration in deeper pools and dozens of small-to-medium size waterfalls visible from the trail. Other water sources – including Paine Creek – were flowing with waterfalls to enjoy while hiking. Also, huge boulders – some 30 feet tall – periodically peppered the waterside.
The trail, formerly a railroad bed of The Dayton Coal & Iron Company, Limited, was mostly hard-pack dirt and flat, though muddy in areas. Though the trail splits (a white blaze leads left along the creek, and, orange ribbons around trees mark a route into the forest, leading to the right), both trails soon reconnect before reaching a new, aluminum bridge. Thereafter, the trail becomes quite rocky, and signs are posted for Snow Falls (left) and the 80-foot Laurel Falls (right).
If you’d be interested in a print for your home, office, or in the lobby or cafeteria of your business, academic facility or hospital, then please visit my shop at Pixels. Thanks!
Not far from the Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, Tennessee, hikers can enjoy the 1.3 mile trek to Laurel Falls, one of the most popular destinations in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. At 80′ tall, a railed-walkway divides the upper and lower sections of the waterfall.
The trail at Laurel Falls was completed in 1932 at a cost of $590, providing fire crews access to the Cove Mountain area in the event of a fire. Three years later, a fire tower was completed. By 1960, frequent trail use and erosion were problematic, and, as part of the 1963 Accelerated Works Projects grant to the Department of Interior, the trail was paved. Today, with over 800 miles of trails within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, only four trails are paved for a total of three miles.
Prints are available for sale in my gallery at Pixels – check it out.