I have always wanted to see the Great Smokey Mountains National park. Since Sam had moved near there last spring for work it seemed like the time was coming that I should go and take a look. It is a national treasure after all. Me being and avid hiker, we agreed before hand that I would need to consider what small hike we could do. That way the trip wouldn't feel like it was lacking. With my knee injuries still being worked through, we chose the easy Laurel Falls Trail to give a taste of the park.
The first day we traveled around Smokey Mountain National park we made several stops at famous areas. Unbeknownst to us, the trail head for Laurel Falls gets very crowded. By the time we arrived at around noon the parking stretched a mile or more down the road in both directions. Dismayed at the sight, we chose to come back the following day nice and early. That way we could avoid both the crowd and having to park along the shoulder.
The next day we came back around 9 am and the trail head was still very full. This time though, we found parking in the overflow area across the street from the trail head.
The Laurel Falls Trail starts off nice and easy winding along through the forest. The trail is well cut and even paved for the most part. The one thing I found myself wishing was that I had been here a month or two prior. All around are deciduous trees and I kept imagining how colorful this place must be during the fall.
As a a resident of the PNW, I am an avid Seahawks fan. Due to the raging pandemic I knew I needed to wear my mask while on the trail. Trying to be a good citizen. At the same time I knew the hike is in Tennessee. So I had to taunt a few people and try to get a rise out of them for a little extra fun by wearing my Seahawks mask. To my delighted surprise, no one heckled me. Instead I had several people proudly yell out "GO HAWKS!" as they walked past me. Not important to the hike at all...
The Laurel Falls hike is very easy to follow. There is little elevation gain and I saw many children as young as 5 taking it on with ease. Despite the hoards of people, there is plenty of space to spread out and I never felt crowded.
I couldn't resist the urge to follow others and scramble down below the lower falls. The scramble down was not difficult and it had far less people than the upper part where most were taking photos.
All in all the Laurel Falls trail was a great way to experience what Smokey Mountain National Park has to offer. I have heard that the backpacking here is to die for. One day when my knees heal and I have more time, I can't wait to come back and see for myself.