Laurel Falls & Trail

Categories: Play, Kid-Friendly, Hiking & Backpacking, Waterfalls, Hikes to waterfalls, Dog Friendly Hiking Trails, Outdoor Fun, Swimming Holes, Adventure Waterfalls


The Local Scoop

Laurel Falls offer an excellent place to chill out and relax in the cool mountain air of the Standing Indian Area. Like the nearby Mooney Falls, I would pair this waterfall hike with one or more of the other outdoor activities close by. However, unlike Mooney Falls, plan to take a dip in one of two swimming holes located here. The first swimming hole will be rather obvious, due to it being at the base of the main, two tier falls. I would say that it's at least 5 ft. deep at the deepest point. Please pay close attention to smaller children, this is nature, and anything could happen. The more secluded and secret swimming hole, I would only recommend to the adventurous type. It will take a bit of a climb up the Left hand side of the falls, where the trail seems to end. If you pay close attention, you will notice a faint trail or possibly even a run-off area caused by heavy rain that resembles a trail. Take this up the Left side (scrambling and climbing a bit) of the Branch until you hear another set of falls. The falls aren't really listed anywhere I can find, so I'll call them Upper Laurel Falls. The falls are much taller than the lower section by twenty feet or so and at the bottom is a calm pool that looks to be about 4 to 5 ft deep. This water is very cold but so refreshing on a hot summer's day. So, pack a couple of towels, river shoes and a change of clothes to enjoy Laurel Falls to the fullest. Enjoy the seclusion and privacy of these falls with family and friends, but always remember to pick up after yourself and try to leave the area in better condition than you found it. We recommend this trail to the entire family, including Grandma and Grandpa.

The Local Directions

From intersection of U.S. Hwy-64 W and U.S. Hwy-23/441 North in Franklin take Hwy-64 W towards Murphy, NC for 12 miles. At just before the 12th mile you should see a Brown sign for "Wallace Gap", "Appalachian Trail" & "Standing Indian Campground" with arrows pointing you towards West Old Murphy Road(SR 1448) on your left. Stay on W.Old Murphy Rd. for 2 miles. You'll pass a Nantahala National Forest Sign for the campground saying "500 Ft Ahead", and at 2 miles you'll be at FR (Forest Road) #67 to your Right (indicated by a small, skinny Brown sign at the beginning of the road). Continue 1.8 miles on FR 67 until you come to a fork in the road. To your Right will be the entrance to "Standing Indian Campground", avoid the Right and continue on FR 67 to the Left. In about 0.3 miles the road will turn to gravel at the Backcounrty Info Kiosk. Continue on for 5.1 miles until you reach the "Big Laurel Falls" & "Timber Ridge" sign and parking pull-out. Parking is limited, but hopefully you'll have it to yourself. Once you park, pick up the trail heading down towards the creek. You'll notice a "T" in the trail, take a right on down to the creek and a footbridge over Mooney Creek. After you reach the other side you'll be at another "T" in the trail. To the Left is "Timber Ridge Trail" and to the Right is "Big Laurel Falls Trail", take the RIGHT and you'll be on your way to a very cool waterfall area.

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Difficulty Levels

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  • Hike4What's this?
Trailhead:  35.022039,-83.503625
Waterfall:  35.018355,-83.506694
Hike Distance
0.5 mile (one-way)
Moderate via Forest Road 67
Nearest City
Macon County
Distance From
Franklin, 21.2 miles