After hiking Laurel Falls trail, I truly understand why it’s the most popular hiking trail in all of Great Smoky Mountains national park. Not only is Laurel Falls kid-friendly, but it also offers breathe taking views and natural pools, courtesy of Mother Nature.
(You know your limitations and the limitations of your children and family best. Although this trail was appropriate for my family, it may not be appropriate for you or your family. Please use your best judgement in deciding whether or not to hike this trail. Neither Mom Explores The Smokies nor the blog owner are responsible for any damage, mishaps or injuries (physical, mental or otherwise) that may occur while you and/or your family/children are on this trail or anywhere in the Smoky Mountains. When in doubt, opt out of this trail.)
Laurel Falls Trail, Great Smoky Mountain National Park
This trail does have an official parking lot, with spaces on both sides of the street. Due to the popularity of the trail, it would be a miracle if you managed to get one of these spots. Most likely you will wind up having to park on the side of the road, like we did. But, truly, it was no big deal. There are no restrooms.
Related Read: 15 Best Family Hikes In The Smoky Mountains
Now, I have some good news and some bad news. You’re getting the good news first, which is that this entire trail is paved. Yes, paved. The bad news? It may as well not be. This trail is in no way handicap or stroller accessible, and there are huge signs that warn of this at the trail head. Of course, we still saw at least 3 strollers as we hiked.
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The most glaring reason for the warning is that the path is very narrow and largely in disrepair. It’s a squeeze to fit 2 people side by side on the paved path and large portions are missing, crumbling, or eroding. The erosion makes it easy to slip off the side of the path. The mountain goes up on one side and down on the other. So, be sure to keep your kids close to the sidewall and not the cliff.
For more good news, although it is primarily uphill, the assent is not very strenuous. Although there are a couple benches along the way, we didn’t have to take many breaks at all. I usually take about 20 breaks per trail (I wish that was an exaggeration). Here, we only took 1 or 2.
Along the way, there are gorgeous mountain views that are absolutely picture perfect. In a few sections you will have to dodge family photographers, if you aren’t stopping for a photo yourself.
Once you reach the waterfall, you cross over the sweetest little bridge. Because the waterfall is bi-level, it falls once, flows under the bridge and then falls again.
Related Read: Kid Friendly Smokies: Schoolhouse Gap Trail
The area around the bridge collects the running water into several small pools. This area was extremely popular with kids and adults alike. It seems no one could resist dipping their feet in. In the same upper area, there are also plenty of rocks to sit on, if you’d like to pack a picnic lunch. Access to the lower portion of the falls requires a steep hike down the mountain, which is not, in my opinion, suitable for kids.
As much as I don’t want to be cliche, I have to go with the crowd and say that I absolutely LOVED this trail and can’t wait to go back. Even baby A enjoyed himself, although he didn’t like his feet in the water! Happy hiking!
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