Laurel Falls is the most photographed place in the Smokies for a good reason. They are absolutely beautiful, with a paved trail from the parking lot to the waterfalls. Perhaps the hardest part of a Laurel Falls hike is finding a parking spot. However, with two lots on either side of the road, you should be able to find a spot without waiting too long. However, like so many hikes in Great Smoky National Park, it’s better in the morning when the weather is cool, and you have an excellent chance of seeing bears.
The hike is 1.3 miles out-and-back (2.6 miles round trip) with 350′ of gain. Even though the path is paved, it’s not recommended for wheelchairs. However, it’s an excellent option for a rainy day hike, so you don’t have to fight your way through the muck.
Once you reach Laurel Falls, you’re rewarded with an 80′ waterfall right off the trail. The cool mists blow onto the path, but you don’t have those awkward moments of kids splashing in the pool while you’re trying to take your photo. There’s little opportunity to enter the water from Laurel Falls and always excellent photographs, even when the trail is busy.
Pro Tip- If you want the earliest breakfast in Gatlinburg or to grab a sandwich for lunch on the trail, Old Dad’s General Store’s full service deli opens at 7:00.