Thursday, January 25, 2007

Laurel Falls


 When asked about how to get to Laurel Falls (a.k.a. Laurel Fork Falls), I always recommend starting from the Dennis Cove side (described here) and hiking down to the falls. That's still not bad advice -- the Dennis Cove trail is level most of the way in and very pretty (however, the last 1/4 mile is very steep!). Today, I thought I would try something different -- I hadn't taken the trail to Laurel Falls from the Hampton side for many years. It was a much more beautiful hike than I ever remembered. Now that could be because it's winter and the views of the creek were better, or maybe it's because it was late afternoon and the light was great. Yes, it is a longer hike to the falls from the Hampton side -- however, this trail is much easier to get to (you don't have to drive over the mountain to Dennis Cove) and it's still a fairly easy trail (besides being muddy in places).

Directions: From 19E, turn on 321/67 (the main road through Hampton) drive 1.5 miles to the trailhead/parking area on the right. Follow the trail into the woods. The trail will soon split, but it doesn't matter which way you go, they meet up again in a little bit. If you're wondering, no, I didn't make it to the falls today -- I ran out of light. Here's a picture from May 2005.  Click here for map

9 comments:

  1. I hiked that this past weekend, and it is Amazing!! I actually took the same pic of the river where the bridge is. Thats pretty cool. Lots of great views, im def. planning to go back

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  2. If I were coming from the boone side what would the best way to get to this? Thanks for the info already and in advance.

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  3. Hi Caleb, You can either take 321 all the way to Hampton. It's a curvey road, but pretty views. Or you can take 105 around Grandfather to 181 (which takes you to Newland) and then turn right onto 194 which becomes 19E which will take you past Roan Mountain and then on to Hampton. I'm not sure which is the faster way to Boone -- I'd say mileage-wise 321 is shorter, but the other way might be a bit quicker (but that depends on traffic, too). Hope this helps.
    Mark

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  4. Go through Mountain City TN. Take W. King St./Hwy. 421 west then north to Mountain City (23 mi.). Turn LEFT at the Riteaid and Exxon onto Hwy. 67. You will pass parts of Watauga Lake on the right and the turn off to (very curving ) 321 on your left. AFTER the Cherokee Forest swimming area and some houses look for the Laurel Creek trail head on the left. This is an easy road, no horrible curves and speeds up to 50-55 mph. About 45 min. travel time.

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  5. Unfortunately, the TVA has been clear-cutting around the power lines along the beginning of the trail from the downstream side. As we walked today there were ATV tracks in the mud, then the sound of chain saws, then when the trail goes up to the left you're in full sun and as we walk a tree comes down ACROSS the trail. Went back a bit to where the ATV and hikers had made a mudslide out of the only other passable way up. Gave up. As we walked back to the car the guy who was cutting trees came down the trail on his ATV and I told him about the tree he dropped across the trail. "We're with the TVA. We don't mess with trail stuff." Um... you're DRIVING on the trail dude! He proceeded to load the ATV on his trailer and took off. Calling the parks service tomorrow. In lieu of a waterfall we went to Roan Mountain and had a nice hike with amazing views!

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  6. The first time I hiked to the falls we didn't realize there were 2 entances/parking lots. We hiked in the long way and out the Dennis cove way. I thought my friend was playing a bad joke on me when she said our car wasnt there. We couldnt feel our legs anymore as we had already walked 10 miles. Ended up having to get a ride to our car, but it was an awesome experience. I took my son back a few weeks later and we prefer the longer Hampton side trail. We logged 9 miles that day and didn't get lost. Takes about 2.5 hours. We are going again soon.

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  7. How many miles round trip is the hike from the Hampton side?

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  8. I've never measured the distance going to the falls from the Hampton side. Thought I'd quickly find an official mileage online, but didn't. It is longer a longer hike going from the Hampton side than the Dennis Cove side. Using the mileage estimator on Google Maps it says it's 2.5 miles (one way) from the Hampton side, and only 1.1 miles one way from Dennis Cove.

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  9. I've never measured the distance going to the falls from the Hampton side. Thought I'd quickly find an official mileage online, but didn't. It is longer a longer hike going from the Hampton side than the Dennis Cove side. Using the mileage estimator on Google Maps it says it's 2.5 miles (one way) from the Hampton side, and only 1.1 miles one way from Dennis Cove.

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