Friday, July 23, 2010

In the Smokies: Laurel Falls (and why we don't go there)

Laurel Falls is one of the most visited spots in the Smokies. It's close to Sugarlands Visitor Center, which is close to Gatlinburg. And it's paved, so it's wheelchair and stroller accessible.

When we first moved here, we took a picture of Laurel and Jesse in front of this sign (Duncan wasn't yet born) and swore we'd return every year to take their picture by the sign. (Laurel, by the way, was not named for these Laurel Falls but for the laurels in upper East Tennessee where we went to college.)

The thing is, we really don't like to go to Laurel Falls. In fact, this was the first time we have been in about seven years. Randy needed to drop his car off at the Sugarlands so that he could hike from Laurel Falls back to the Sugarlands, so Duncan and I decided to hike the first portion (just up to the falls) with him. (You can read about the rest of Randy's hike on 900-Miles.)

It's not that the trail, being in the Smokies, isn't pretty. I don't think there is any spot in the park that isn't beautiful.

There are a few nice views along the way.

And trail-side treasures.

And hiking in general is just a good thing to do on a summer day.

What I don't like about Laurel Falls is that this is what you see at the end of the trail:

All these people, and many, many more to come (a bus was just letting off as we returned to the parking lot), taking pictures of this:

It's probably about the least impressive falls in the Smokies. I felt sorry for the people hiking up with such great anticipation. I felt like apologizing. One lady was huffing and puffing on her way up and said, "There had better be something amazing at the end of this trail! It had better be a pot of gold!" ("Or," her husband replied, "a bar!") I hope she found this to be worth her efforts. I suppose that if you don't know some of the other beautiful spots that the Smokies has to offer, you could be thrilled with the pot of gold at the end of this 1.3 mile trail.

Dear Tourists,
I am happy that you are here exploring our beautiful park, and I'm glad you are getting exercise and fresh air, but please don't wear high heels when you hike. It's just silly.

Linked up on Outdoor Wednesday at A Southern Daydreamer


  1. I'm guessing you didn't get any stealth pictures of the person wearing high heels? ;)

  2. I had to laugh at your P.S. I can't tell you how many times we have hiked and seen people walking in high heels. It just amazes me!

  3. i wanted to do laurel falls when we were in the smokies. my 23-y/o, who has done a fair amount of hiking in the smokies, had recommended rainbow falls & ramsey cascades as his personal favorites, but given that we'd only managed 2.5-ish miles on the appalachian trail the day before, my family didn't even want to attempt those. i'd suggested laurel falls as a compromise; it sounded like a reasonable length for our non-hiking family, and at least there would be a waterfall at the end. but no. they did not want to do ANY more hikes. party poopers.

    (at least when we did hike, we wore good sturdy athletic shoes and get-em-dirty clothing and carried our snacks & water in a backpack. i didn't notice anyone in high heels, but i did see some who definitely were not dressed for the trail, including one woman in an all-white outfit with flat dressy sandals and a purse.)

  4. please don't wear high heels when you hike

    Or flip-flops - my own pet peeve.

    Great post.

  5. My husband and I honeymooned in the Catskills and saw someone hiking BAREFOOT.

  6. Bahaha! Heels hiking? That made me FALL OUT OF MY CHAIR! =) Laurel is impressive I guess if you're impressed easily. Grotto Falls is my favorite!!! (Rainbow falls runs a close second...) I'm DYING to see Abram falls. We're taking a family hike there before fall. Can't WAIT!!! =) Great post!

  7. This is so funny to me. I'm from Va. Beach and there's a locals' beach and then the tourists' beach. I suspect every touristy area is like this... It always pays to ask the locals!

  8. We have beaches like that - overcrowded... we always head away from the popular spots to the more or less unknown ones.

    I can't say I've seen anyone hiking in high heels, but definately in flip-flops.

  9. What a funny story! I saw people hiking in all sorts of things on Maui. Hubby once saw a group of people hiking into Haleakala crater dragging an igloo cooler behind them! Good luck with that on the lava!

    Thanks for the encouragement about Sonlight. I am excited about it- can't wait to order!

  10. Thanks for taking us on the hike with you! Very fun!

  11. Very pretty falls, and the little pink mushrooms are very unusual!
    We tourists are funny creatures sometimes. . .love that shot!

  12. I am embarrassed to say that I live in this area (for only a couple years) and I have no clue where this is. Looks like a nice newbie trail to try with little kids.


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