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  • Writer's pictureBrian Childress

Cherokee National Forest - Laurel Falls - Carter County, Tennessee

The Cherokee National Forest is a United States National Forest located in Tennessee and North Carolina that was created on June 14, 1920. The forest is maintained and managed by the United States Forest Service. It encompasses an estimated area of 655,598 acres.

Located in the Congressional designated Pond Mountain Wilderness, Laurel Falls is a popular destination for hikers due to its immense size (40’ high & 50’ wide) and picturesque setting. The hike to the falls can be challenging and requires good footwear and physical ability.

There are two preferred routes for reaching the falls: either by way of the nearly 5.5 mile Hampton Blue-line/Laurel Falls Trail (#501) combined with a hike along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (#1), or the more moderate route along the Appalachian Trail from Dennis Cove (approximately 2.6 miles round-trip).

This hiking trail does not offer any bathrooms at the entrance nor throughout the 5.5 mile Hampton Blue-line. There were camping sites which have spectacular views and are in close proximity of the trail and river. There will also be two well-maintained bridges which are gorgeous and you must cross before you arrive at the falls.

Wildlife or sites to expect include black bear, raccoon, coyote, skunk, opossum, beaver, two species of squirrel, bobcat, chipmunk, river otter, two species of fox, woodchuck, and white-tailed deer.

Our experience: This hike is moderately tough and we highly recommend hiking sticks. As some of the photos reflect, you must navigate through some semi-tough rock trails and cliffs which hug the river. Most hikers should make it to the falls in approximately 3 hours, assuming you take your time, enjoy the scenery, and take plenty of photos. Overall - the falls are a must-see and this trail is a hiker's dream.

Park location and contact:

Directions: from Hampton follow TN-67 E/US- 321 S to Laurel Falls trail-head on right.

2800 Ocoee Street N

Cleveland TN  37312

(423) 476-9700


Laurel Falls


Appalachian Trail

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