Mountain climbing to Laurel Fork Falls on the Appalachian Path in Northeast Tennessee

Hidden in a small gorge an hour from Johnson Metropolis, water crashes over the 40′-tall, 50′-wide Laurel Fork Falls. It’s simple to hike to the waterfall – and you’ve got two choices. The simplest route is the longest, and the shortest route encompasses a rickety footbridge carved from a fallen tree.

Which manner will you go?

Laurel Fork Falls – interchangeably known as Laurel Falls – is a couple of 2-hour day journey tour on the Appalachian Path. However with a close-by shelter, it may simply develop into a weekend getaway and an opportunity to take a seat on the base of a thunderous waterfall. You’ll probably have your complete place to your self.


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Packing Necessities

Earlier than hitting the Appalachian Path to Laurel Fork Falls, think about packing these important objects to benefit from your journey:

Parking on the Laurel Fork Falls Trailhead

Mountain climbing to Laurel Fork Falls is an thrilling day journey journey. However first, you need to discover the waterfall.

The drive begins at Exit 24 on Interstate 26 in Johnson Metropolis. Take U.S. Freeway 321 towards Elizabethton – a small mountain metropolis with roots within the American Revolution because the Overmountain Males marched towards Kings Mountain and probably the most vital battles of the Revolutionary Conflict.

After passing by way of the city – preserve an eye fixed out for the 134-foot Elizabethton Coated Bridge over the Doe River – take U.S. Freeway 321/19E towards Roan Mountain. After a couple of minutes, flip left to proceed on 321 in Hampton.

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Proceed only a few minutes alongside the two-lane street. You’re nearly there as quickly as you see extra bushes alongside the street than homes. The small gravel parking space is splendidly coated in shade, making it simple to overlook. For those who see Watauga Lake on the left – and particularly if you happen to see the Shook Department Picnic Space – you’ve gone too far.

The Laurel Fork Falls Trailhead begins on the fringe of the gravel car parking zone. It’s a brief spur path connecting to the Appalachian Path and persevering with to Laurel Fork Falls. Parking is free and comparatively secure – however don’t depart any valuables in your automotive.

Parking on the Dennis Cove Trailhead

Following the identical route from the interstate to Hampton, flip proper onto Dennis Cove Highway beside a financial institution. The 2-lane street winds and twists alongside the slope of Black Mountain. It is going to take about 10-Quarter-hour to drive the 4 miles to the gravel parking space on the left aspect of the street.

This parking space is way smaller than the one on the Laurel Fork Falls Trailhead. There’s house for possibly 4 vehicles to park directly.

Mountain climbing the Appalachian Path to Laurel Fork Falls

Mountain climbing the Appalachian Path to Laurel Fork Falls is sort of a Select Your Personal Journey youngsters’s e-book: do you hike from the highest or the underside to the waterfall?

The 4.6-mile out-and-back hike from the Laurel Fork Falls Trailhead is the longer possibility but additionally the simplest. The path ascends into the Laurel Gorge from the parking space with about 600′ of elevation change. Essentially the most troublesome a part of the path is a fast one-hundred-foot descent after crossing a knob.

The two.5-mile out-and-back hike from Dennis Cove is generally degree, convincing you it is going to be a straightforward hike, however abruptly you could have a 300-foot descent within the final quarter mile. There’s an previous saying about climbing the Appalachian Path, “What goes down should return up once more.”

READ MORE: 20 Issues to Do in Johnson Metropolis – The Hub of Northeast Tennessee

The hike from Dennis Cowl options one thing – terrifyingly thrilling. The path parallels Laurel Fork Creek a lot of the manner. About two-thirds of the way in which to the waterfall, the Appalachian Path crosses the creek alongside a three-section rickety picket footbridge. The top sections are carved from fallen bushes and sport railings unlikely to assist anybody in the event that they slip. The middle part is milled lumber and is definitely the extra steady. Every part is supported within the center by two towers of river stone and mortar constructed way back by a path crew.

Each routes meet on the Appalachian Path excessive above Laurel Fork Falls. The ultimate descent is alongside a collection of stone steps on the gorge’s wall to the waterfall’s base. The tall, extensive, thundering Laurel Fork Falls. All of a sudden, whichever route you took, the hike didn’t appear all that dangerous.

Simply do not forget that on the way in which again to your automotive.

Spending Time at Laurel Fork Falls

The gravest mistake of many adventurers is just not spending sufficient time at their vacation spot. Appalachian Path thru-hikers have a mission to perform and a set variety of miles to hike earlier than sundown. However if you happen to’re a weekend adventurer out for a day hike, take a while to benefit from the splendor of Laurel Fork Falls.

Take a tenting chair if you happen to dare to hold the additional weight. A Coleman Moveable Tenting Chair can work in a pinch, however you’ll should lug the 8.2 kilos on some steep climbs. The most suitable choice for a chair is the Helinox Ultralight – the chair folds down to only 14 inches tall and weighs only one pound, 2 ounces.

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Even higher – take an ENO SingleNest Hammock. The packable nylon hammock weighs simply 16 ounces and requires about as a lot room in a backpack as a water bottle. There are many bushes to arrange a hammock alongside the sting of the river under the waterfall.

For those who determine to hike with out chairs or a hammock, there are many locations to take a seat and benefit from the waterfall. The river is extensive and shallow on the base of the falls. Mossy areas and clean river stones supply numerous pure seats.

Tenting on the Laurel Fork Shelter

The Laurel Fork Shelter is about three-quarters of a mile north on the Appalachian Path from Laurel Fork Falls. It’s a typical AT lean-to shelter with three stone partitions supporting a sloped metallic roof and one giant sleeping platform.

READ MORE: The Beautiful Magnificence Spot on the Appalachian Path

Round early Might, thru-hikers from Georgia start passing by way of the realm. They get precedence placement within the shelters since many don’t carry a tent, hammock, or sleeping bag on the long-distance hike.

The world across the shelter is okay for small tents – however solely okay. Rocks and bushes don’t depart a lot room for comfortably spreading out on the bottom.

However at the very least you’ll have loads of water close by.

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