I love our family times in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is so serene and peaceful, not to mention majestic and absolutely breathtaking. We like to just leisurely drive or walk around and let nature be our tour guide for the day. When we are together in the mountains, I like to say……Life doesn’t get much better than this!!
One hike that our little divas allowed us to fully complete was a hike up to Laurel Falls. I think the word “waterfall” intrigued them enough that they were willing to take an extended walk/hike. It is rated as one of the less difficult trails in the park which made it family friendly in our books.
The actual hike itself is just under 2.5 miles roundtrip and took us about 3 hours to complete. We visited during the summer season so we headed out early in the day before it got too hot. The trail was paved and fairly easy to maneuver. However, we did have lots of complaining from our littlest diva who chose to wear high heeled sandals that day and needless to say, her feet started hurting! We tried to make plenty of stops along the route to just catch our breath, grab a sip of water and take in all the beauty that surrounded us.
The trees provided great shade which was a very welcomed bonus but also made the hike feel more like an adventure. There were lots of oohs and ahhs from the girls as we walked along and plenty of questions like, “Are we gonna see a bear?” I think the sign at the beginning of the trail that warned of bears had them a little worried!! Fortunately, we didn’t see any bears; however, we did see a deer making its way through the trees and lots of millipedes crawling along the trail.
The trail is a great place for photos. The girls posed on many of the rocks and stumps along the way, and we took several family pics which became our Christmas card photos. Pictures in natural settings are the best!!
Once we reached the point where we could hear running water, the excitement began to build. We kept anticipating that the waterfall would be right around the next curve in the road but it still took us 15-20 minutes to reach the waterfall itself. It was worth the hike… impressive and beautiful. We even took our shoes off and put our feet in the refreshing water…..it is not an everyday occurrence that we have the opportunity to be in the presence of a real life waterfall!!
After hanging out for a while, we started our way back down the trail. It actually seemed to go a little faster than our journey up the mountain, maybe because we all knew there were snacks waiting in the car!!
Overall, the hike to Laurel Falls was the perfect family adventure…..not too long and not too difficult. Our family hike made for some great memories. Don’t miss out on these adventures with your family too!!