Saturday, August 6, 2016

We Finally Hiked Laurel Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains

Laurel Falls waterfall
Laurel Falls
After our hike to Grotto Falls and after we purchased some souvenirs from the Sugarland Visitor Center; I decided to try and hike to Laurel Falls.  I had really wanted to hike these falls the last time we had visited the Smoky Mountains, but every time we tried, it was too crowded and we could not find parking.  I decided if we drove by the trailhead and could not find a parking space then that was our sign, not to stop.  Well, we drove by and I found a front row parking space!  We grabbed our backpacks with our Hydration Packs inside. I was excited that we were going to finally get a chance to hike to Laurel falls, but nervous too.  The good thing is that there were people there; at least I think it was good for our situation.  (Safety in numbers).  It was not bumper-to-bumper crowded with people.  You would just pass some people on the trail every now and then. 

View from the laurel falls trail
View from the Trail
Laurel Falls is an 80-foot high Waterfall.  It has an upper and lower section, which is divided by a wooden walkway, which crosses the stream at the upper falls.  The trail is narrow, steep and paved.  Keep your children on the inside of the trail because on your left it drops off.  It was not a hard trail to hike, it was just kind of steep.  The trail is rated moderate in difficulty and is 2.6 miles round-trip. (About 2 hours) There were some really pretty views of the mountains a long the trail.  The camera did not do them justice.

Just a couple of words of advice.  It is not a good idea at all to hike to Laurel Falls during rain,  especially a rainstorm.  First the rocks are very slippery and people have slipped and died on sunny days.  This can happen at any water fall.  Always be cautious, do not go close to the edge and do not go off the wooden bridge if it is or has been raining.  On a different trip to the Smokies, Stupid Me, did walk off the bridge after it had been raining and I slipped and fell, thankfully in a small puddle of water right near the bridge.  I was not near the edge at all, I just took a few steps off the bridge to take a picture and the next thing I knew I was laying in a puddle of water on my back.  I did not go off the Waterfall, but my sister and Nadia thought I was.  We all hugged after, but I was so embarrassed and felt like a real fool.  I knew better!  I was not hurt, just had a banged up elbow and unfortunately I did come home with a bacterial infection where I had some stitches. (which I had to get right before we left for our trip).  They were on my stomach and when I fell in the puddle the water splashed over my stomach.  Also, never drink the water in the rivers and creeks on the trails, you need to treat it first.

Look at the pictures below to see what a difference rain:

Now on with the story...As we hiked up the trail, we did not see any bear, but there was a rattlesnake.

The good news is Nadia and I did not see it.  There was a crowd of people staring at something on the side of the mountain on the left.  When I heard it was a rattlesnake.  I told Nadia to “Come on, where not sticking around to see that.” 

Looking down the falls from the hiking trail
Looking Down the Falls from the Trail
We were starting to hear the roar of running water.  I love that sound. There it finally was, Laurel Falls.  We took some pictures. Now in the beginning of the trail, there are signs posted for waterfall safety.  I do not suggest you climb the rocks like the people above.

Here I go again, but please please please follow all warning signs!!

Waterfall Danger
The following is off the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Web Site:

Do not climb on rocks around the waterfall. Over the years, several people have fallen to their deaths and many others have suffered serious injuries from climbing on rocks near waterfalls or along the riverbanks. These rocks are slippery due to mist and algae.

Can you believe there were people on the rocks?  I know it is a beautiful place, but why risk it?  Nadia was upset because I would not let her climb on the rocks.  I just replied, “I am sorry but I love you too much. The rocks are very slippery and rushing water is very strong.”  I let her put her hand in a pool of water and that was it.

We started back down the trail.  It was so much easier going DOWN the trail.  Nadia and I were having a good time.  Then guess whom we ran into?  One of the Rangers from the Grotto Falls hike!  She said “Hey! You braved the trail!” I replied, “Yes I did and I loved it.”  We laughed and continued on.

view from laurel falls hiking trail.
View from Trail
Nadia and I arrived at our car and drove back to the Cabin in Townsend.  I took Nadia over to the pool for a little while.  She swam and I read my book.  Afterwards I started getting dinner ready.  I did better with the campfire this time.  I had dinner cooked in an hour.  Nadia played in the calm part of the water by the Cabin for a little while (the water was only up to her ankles and she had on water shoes) and I sat by and watched.  We then made some s'mores. Since there were no TV’s, I was prepared.  I had brought two books for Nadia to read and a Cross-Stitch Kit for Kids.  Nadia opted for the cross-stitch.  So we sat on the swing and I taught her how to cross-stitch.  We watched the lightning bugs and I got to read some more of my book. What a great day we had together in the Smoky Mountains it was good family bonding. 

Below is my newest book that is available on Amazon that was written about this road trip along with some added bonuses

Below is my first travel guide