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Laurel Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in a photo by Richard WeisserLaurel Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

One of the most popular hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the 2.6 mile round-trip trek to Laurel Falls.

Many park visitors visit Laurel Falls on a regular basis. The trailhead is conveniently located on the Little River Road between the Sugarlands Visitors Center and Elkmont.

The easy-walking paved trail offers a gentle ascent though second growth that occasionally allow nice views of the surrounding mountains. And although you may be focused on getting to the falls, I can assure you that  every twist and turn along the trail offers something new to see or experience.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is designated as an International Biosphere Reserve. It possesses an amazing diversity of plant and animal life in a variety of habitats unlike any other on Earth.

As a result, nearly any excursion into the woods may result in any number of surprises. Pause for a moment and take a deep breath. Listen to the sounds of nature. Take it all in and enjoy every moment of your walk.

The Laurel Falls Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National ParkWhen you get to the Falls, there is a footbridge across Laurel Creek that puts you at the midpoint of the cataract Although there is no direct access to the base of the falls, one can carefully enjoy the cool magnificence of this impressive natural phenomenon from trail level.

Do not expect solitude when you get there, as many visitors tend to linger dip their hands or feet into the cool water and to take many photos.

When you can finally manage to pull yourself away, it's an easy return back to the parking area, gently downhill all the way. 

A word of caution: There are sheer drop-offs along the trail and especially near the falls. Children should be kept in hand-control at all times. It is also very dangerous to climb over wet and slippery rocks. Please exercise extreme caution and there have been many serious injuries as a result of reckless or thoughtless behavior,

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