Hiking the Laurel Falls Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains

July 09, 2018

The Laurel Falls Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most popular trails to explore! No matter the season it’s possible to make the trek up this trail and the waterfall at the end will be worth it! Keep reading to learn more about this popular hike!


Round Trip Length 2.3 Miles
Elevation Gain 314 Feet
Trail Highlights Waterfall


From the Sugarlands Visitor Center turn towards Cades Cove on Little River Road. Drive on this road for 3.5 miles to the trailhead. Parking will be on both sides of the road for the Laurel Falls trail.

Trail Description:laurel Falls

The hike to Laurel Falls is 2.3 miles round trip. The trail is paved, making it much easier to navigate than many other trails in the park. The elevation gain of the trail is about 314 feet. The low elevation gain makes this hike a steady, but slow and manageable climb to the waterfall. Beware of some edges along the hiking path that have very steep drop-offs!

Laurel Falls itself is an 80 foot tall waterfall! It is made up of an upper and lower section making it a two-tiered waterfall. Once you reach the falls from the hike up you will get to pass over a small foot bridge that crosses to the other side of the waterfall. On the bridge or on this opposite side are perfect opportunities to take some amazing pictures! In the upper section of the falls you can even dip your toes in the water to feel how cool the water is.

Trail Map:

Use the map below to find your way to the Laurel Falls Trail for a hike that’s fun for everyone!

Get our downloadable Laurel Falls Trail map here!

Trail History

The Laurel Falls Trail was built in 1932. The trail was used by fire crews heading to a fire tower on Cove Mountain. Later, in the 60s the Laurel Falls Trail became increasingly popular among visitors. In order to keep the trail better maintained, accessible, and to fight against erosion the trail was paved.

Tips for Visiting:
– This is an active bear inhabited area. Stay alert to your surroundings, and do not approach any wildlife that you come across.

– Close-toed shoes are recommended for any hike in the national park.

– Always carry enough drinking water with you. Staying hydrated is very important!

– This a very popular trail in the national park. If you want to avoid crowds arrive very early or later in the evenings.

Laurel Falls Trail is a beautiful destination hike in the Great Smoky Mountains. This hike is great for an easy stroll or to bring kids along to! If you would like to see more picturesque waterfalls in the national park check our list of 6 best hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains National Park with waterfalls!