Summary: This is a great hike along the Laurel Fork of Doe River leading to a beautiful waterfall. It also runs with the AT for part of its length. The trail is in good shape along most of its length, but there are a few rough spots where mountain runoff has cut into the trail. These places can get very muddy if it has rained recently. The trail also has a short section where you have to climb over rocks along the side of the river. The trail will seem to end, but there are two white blazes on a large boulder that show you where to go. The trail over the rocks isn't difficult, but it is along a river, so watch out if you have children or small dogs with you. They may need help climbing up or down some of the rocks. The only down side to this trail is that it can get very crowded. In late spring or during the fall when the leaves change, there can be 30-40 people out on a weekend. If you have a dog that you like to hike with off lead, avoid these crowded times.
Trailhead: This trailhead is in Hampton, TN, which is located a few miles south of Elizabethton TN. Starting from Interstate 81, take exit 57A to Johnson City. This puts you on I-26, formerly I-181. (All of your maps will say I-181, but the road signs changed in August 2003 to I-26.) Take Exit 31 to Elizabethton/Milligan College. This will put you on US Highway 321 N. Continue on this road for about 8.5 miles. After you go through the main part of Elizabethton, you will come to a T-intersection. Turn right onto TN-37/US-321 /VETERANS MEMORIAL PKWY. Continue going south on this road for about 5 miles. On the left, you will see a Shell gas station. Just beyond the station, US-321 will split off from TN-37. Take the left there, following US-321 toward Watauga Lake. The trailhead is about 1.5 miles down this road, on the right, along with the parking area. (As of 3/04, the turn onto 321 by the Shell is blocked by construction. Follow the detour signs to get back onto 321)
Trail Guides for Laurel_Falls:
Wilderness Trails of Tennessee Cherokee National Forest
by William H Skelton (University of Tennessee Press)
Best Seasons: Year-Round
User Groups: Hikers, Dogs,
Ranger Contact: Watauga Ranger District 432-542-2942
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Ashley Blevins, who has posted 2 other hikes on this site
Trail Reviews Page 1 of 2 Submit your own review
Reviewed by Gregory on 7/10/2014
This is one of my favorite places on earth. If u have all day to explore do so u won't regret it.if u r very careful an explore some of the side trails off the main trail u will find many more beautiful waterfalls an lookouts. It's amazing god gave us such beauty in our pun backyard.
Reviewed by MT on 8/4/2013
I absolutely love this hike. The 1st time we took the Hampton side, this is a good hike with lots of beauty. But didn't made it to the falls due to how late we started the hike. On this trail we did come across a baby timber rattler. 2nd time we drove up Dennis Cove. I can't wait to go back. We didn't wanna leave. Words just can't explain how beautiful and peaceful this area is. I highly suggest you check it out for yourself, I don't think you'll regret it. Next hike we want to go to the top of the falls. Everyone we came across were nice, and friendly. The hike itself wasn't bad at all. Some areas are narrow or rough but can be passed. Hope to see ya on the trail!!
Reviewed by DAS on 5/26/2012
Very nice trail...one note it is exit 24 off of I 26 not exit 31.
Reviewed by JL on 5/22/2012
I had a friend take me up there a few weeks ago and loved it. Worth the time to hike it.
Reviewed by Brian on 9/5/2010
Love this hike! I have been from both Dennis Cove and Hampton. I hiked it twice this year with my 7 year old son, camping overnight the last time. We were delighted to see 2 copperheads each time. There is a nest at the fork as you start going down from the high point of the trail. They are 20 feet past the fork on the left side of the trail. There is a small rotten stump with lots of gray rocks around it. This last time we went we ran int yellow jackets at the bottom of that hill. We had a blast as always and plan on going back many many times again. hope to see you there!
Reviewed by Joe on 8/2/2010
Did this trail alot as a teenager. Went today for the first time in 25 years. Took my wife, my 2 children (ages 7 and 9), my neice (14) and nephew (11). We went from the 321 parking area instead of off Dennis Cove Road. (I think its a little longer the way we went.) Trail was in good shape - hasn't change in 25 years. All went well, a great hike, not too difficult unless you decide to go to the top of the falls. We all did. It was a task but the kids did great! I will sleep well tonight!
Reviewed by Bob on 1/16/2010
Went on a cold day in January. Falls almost completely covered with ice. Came in from Hampton trailhead (US-321). Can be a little confusing at first, with several side trails/roads. Just follow the blue blazes until you get to the AT. After you cross the two bridges and start climbing the steep ridge, look for a wooden sign high on a tree pointing down to the right. Follow that trail to get to the falls.
Reviewed by Judy on 1/21/2007
I took this hike on a warm day in January. The trail was in good shape and well-marked. At one point when the trail left the side of the river and headed up the side of the mountain, I questioned whether I had taken a wrong fork, but the trail came back down to the river. Apparently, this was a bypass around a section where there was no trail beside the river. The trail became very narrow at one point, with a rock cliff on one side and the river on the other side, but I passed through that area with little difficulty. The waterfall was one of the nicest I have seen in the local area. The area was very clean. I strongly recommend this hike.
Notice: Traveling in the backcountry can be hazardous. You are responsible for informing yourself about these hazards and taking necessary precautions. Information on this web site comes from volunteer reporters and may contain errors or omissions. A current guidebook and proper equipment are essential for safe enjoyment of the hikes posted on this site.
Keys: Tennessee Hiking, Tennessee Trails, Tennessee Hikes, Carter County Hiking, Carter County Trails, Carter County Hikes