Sunday, February 3, 2008

Little Laurel Branch Falls

I originally had this labeled "Big Laurel Branch Falls", but with the advice of Randy Gardner and looking more closely at my own map, I realized that this is really "Little Laurel Branch Falls." Both of the Laurel Branches spill into Wilber Lake, but I don't believe the "Big" branch has a waterfall (maybe someone who's explored in this area will leave a comment and confirm this). Located on Wilbur Lake, you can almost drive directly to Little Laurel Branch Falls. It's directly across the lake from the picnic area (which lies between Wilbur Dam and Watauga Dam). It was too sunny when I visited to get a really good shot (click here to read the waterfall photography advice I didn't heed), but what I like about this scene was that the waterfall was completely covered with ice. I could hear the water rushing down from behind a shield of ice. Click here to see a photo of this 50' waterfall at high flow.

Directions to Wilbur Dam: There are different ways to get to Wilbur and Watauga Dams from Elizabethton, TN. I think the easiest way is to take Highway 19E toward Blountville and take the Stoney Creek Road exit (Hwy 91) and travel approximately three miles. You'll come to a red light with a BP on the corner, turn right onto Blue Spring Road -- After one mile, you'll want to bear right onto Steel Bridge Road. Take this for 3/4 mile, and you'll cross a very unique one lane bridge. After crossing the bridge, the road is called Wilbur Dam Road (aka Horseshoe Dam Road, Lookout Road). Follow this road for two miles, you will come to Wilbur Dam and Wilbur Lake. The picnic area described above will be on your left side. Continue on for three miles further and you'll arrive at Watauga Dam Overlook. Click here for map.


  1. Mark, I'm working on a page for this waterfall at and it seems like there may be some false information on the waterfall. Please confirm my recollection.

    When arriving at the picnic area the waterfall is directly across the lake, or the bend in the lake if you will.

    According to topo maps and google terrain maps this is actually Little Laurel Branch and not Big Laurel Branch. Dunigan's site has the same waterfall listed as Big Laurel Branch with the GPS coordinates for Big Laurel Branch. However, Big Laurel enters the lake several hundred feet downstream, if you will, of the picnic area. I don't even recall seeing another waterfall in that direction. You can reply with the email "Randy at my website address".

    Love your website.

  2. Thanks Randy for the correction. I agree with you -- this should be labeled Little Laurel Creek Falls. I'll make the changes to the post and my map. I appreciate your website and all your advice and directions (not to mention great photography).
    Thanks again!


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