I used to go to school in Dayton and went hiking out here all the time. This is one of my favorite places to hike. Took the pup out there today for the first time. She had a blast. The weather was perfect for taking pictures of the waterfalls. I didn't go all the way up to Laurel or Snow with her. The bridge is out and you can either be creative trying to cross it or just cross the creek and didn't feel like dealing with it with Silver. They have water again now that it has rained some and was flowing pretty nice. Still down enough that getting to some places was really easy. Also they just added gravel to the drive in, which flattened out the potholes and made it a much better drive in than just a month ago.
The trail is gorgeous. My friend and I talked to a park ranger who knew the history of the area. He told us about the mine, which was closed down in 1920. He talked about the remains of the train track that runs through the park, which was used to haul the coal out. He talked about how Dayton used to get its water from the stream up there and that is why you'll see a large pipe in the ground on the trail. He also warned us of the snakes, cugars, bears, and mine ventilation shafts that would drop a hundred feet. But then he got to the real danger... Big Foot roams these trails. Yes, he really did warn us about Big Foot. It was enough to make my day.
The trail is definitely worth visiting. You'll probably get lost a few times, but it's worth it.
I got to the area just after sun up with the intention of hiking to both falls and all of the overlooks before sundown, which I accomplished in a little less than 6 1/2 hours. The trail is marked moderate which I would have to say is accurate, the first 1.5 mile stretch running along the creek is easy, flat and peaceful, once past the old broken bridge things start going up toward laurel falls, and there are a series of ever increasing switchbacks to navigate. Laurel falls was a trickle when I went, but it was still a beautiful sight, the real gem is the overlook above it. The snow falls trail is much longer, and has its own set of switchbacks to navigate, once on top of the ridge you run into a dirt road which can be walked in either direction, one to the overlook one to the falls, I saw only 5 other people on the fall trails while I was out on Sunday (sunny, high of 70, with a breeze) so it was quite peaceful. On the hike out I saw about 20 people with kids in the creek swimming. I am 24, in decent shape, and I had no problem hiking the entire area in a day's time, I also carried a backpack and DSLR camera the entire time. The best hike I have been on in TN so far.
To get the most out of this trail, research before going on this trail!!! Read all the user comments, especially the man who was generous enough to give the correct coordinates- and go to this website listed ( http://cumberlandtrail.org/maps-and-guides/trail-segments/laurel-snow/laurel-snow-sna-section/ ) to see the map and point by point descriptions. The first part is simple to understand, but then you hit a place that the trail seems to vanish. This is where the trail marker is on the BACK of the tree. We did not see this, kept going, and saw a pretty dam with rushing water over it. Came back, then saw the trail blaze. When we were on the correct path, we came across a makeshift camp set-up with rocks that said "Smoke room". We lost the trail again!!! Almost gave up, and then finally we spotted a trail marker across the way, behind the graffiti rocks. We climbed over them and continued on. We finally came to the massive 80 foot Laurel falls. SO WORTH IT. We were so thankful we had not given up. On the way back, take the short cuts, which are directly downward slope trails. Makes it much faster of a return. All in all, this trail reminds you of a magical fairy tale. You are taken in by the marvelous second to none views within a couple of minutes starting on the trail. And it just gets better and better, finally peaking at Laurel falls. However, there are two overlooks beyond the falls (the link I enclosed has a youtube video of them) and those look even more incredible!! We did not make it to them this time, but definitely coming back soon to see them next time. My favorite hike ever.
Michael H. on Laurel-Snow Trail to Laurel Falls
This trail can be tricky. They are not marked the best so you have to be prepared to back track. But the hike to Snow Falls was worth it. I was amazed at the scenery the old coal mines and the list goes on. I do plan on going back and hiking the short hike to Laurel Falls. By the way the trail marked on this app is to Laurel Falls.