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A King's Lodge

  /  Uncategorized   /  Why Cove Mountain’s Trail is the Smokies’ Most Spectacular Hike?

Fall in Love with Cove Mountains:

If you love scenic hikes and amazing waterfalls, you’ve got to check out the Laurel Falls Trail up to Cove Mountain. It’s right in the heart of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and super popular because of the gorgeous 80-foot Laurel Falls. But here’s the thing: it’s so popular that parking can be a real hassle during peak season. If you’re not into big crowds, try to start your hike early in the morning, early evening, on weekdays, or even better, during the off-season.

Historical Background:

The Laurel Falls Trail has an interesting history that dates back to 1932. It wasn’t originally intended for hiking enthusiasts. Instead, it was built to provide fire crews with quick access to the Cove Mountain area in case of forest fires. Fast forward to the early 1960s, and the trail had become a hotspot for hikers, leading to significant erosion issues.

To address these problems, the trail was paved in 1963 under the Accelerated Works Projects grant to the Department of Interior. The paving helped to halt the erosion and preserved the trail for future generations to enjoy.

Trail Description:

The trail to Laurel Falls is just over 1.1 miles long and involves a climb of about 315 feet. It’s a relatively easy hike, making it accessible for most people. As you trek along, the sound of water flowing becomes your companion, and before you know it, you’re greeted by the spectacular sight of Laurel Falls. Standing at 80 feet tall, the waterfall is a sight to behold and a favorite photo spot for many.

It’s easy to see why this trail is so popular. The combination of a relatively short hike and the reward of a beautiful waterfall makes it an attractive option for visitors of all ages. If you’ve never had the chance to see Laurel Falls, you’re in for a treat.

Post-Laurel Falls Section:

Once you leave the paved section behind, you also leave most of the crowds. The trail continues to ascend through a lush canopy of rhododendron for the next half-mile or so. The tranquility of this section is enhanced by the hum of Laurel Branch Creek cascading down the valley on your right. It’s one of those experiences that make you feel truly immersed in nature.

As you walk through this part of the trail, you’ll occasionally get some decent views of the mountains to the south. If you’re hiking during the spring or fall, you might even catch a glimpse of Mount LeConte towards the southeast. However, during the summer, the thick foliage tends to obstruct most of these views.

One of the highlights of this section is the old growth forest. You’ll notice some impressively large trees along the trail, which add to the sense of walking through an ancient and untouched part of the forest.

Trail Junctions and Directions:

At around 2.8 miles into your hike, you’ll come across a junction where the Little Greenbrier Trail branches off to the left. To continue towards the summit of Cove Mountain, make sure to proceed straight ahead. This junction is a good spot to take a break and enjoy the surroundings before pushing on to the summit.

The trail eventually dead ends into the Cove Mountain Trail at the 3.7-mile mark. Here, you’ll need to turn left and walk for another tenth-of-a-mile to reach the old fire tower that sits atop the summit of Cove Mountain.

Cove Mountain Summit:

The fire tower at the summit has its own story. Built in 1935, it’s one of only four remaining towers in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. While it was originally used to monitor forest fires, the tower has since been repurposed by the National Park Service as an air quality monitoring station. Unfortunately, this means that hikers are not allowed access to the tower itself.

Even though there isn’t much of a view from the summit, the hike up to Cove Mountain is still very pleasant. The journey through the diverse landscapes, from lush rhododendron canopies to ancient forests, makes it a rewarding experience.

Celebrate the Beauty of Cove Mountain With A King’s Lodge:

The Laurel Falls Trail to Cove Mountain offers a mix of history, natural beauty, and a relatively easy hiking experience. From the stunning Laurel Falls to the peaceful old-growth forest and the historical fire tower at the summit, there’s plenty to see and enjoy along the way.

While the lack of a panoramic view from the summit might be a letdown for some, the overall hike more than makes up for it. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just looking for a pleasant day hike, the trail to Cove Mountain is definitely worth checking out. Just remember to plan your visit during off-peak times to avoid the crowds and make the most of this beautiful trail.

And after your hike, why not unwind at A King’s Lodge, a private resort located at the base of Cove Mountain? Our Main Lodge sits on seven beautiful acres, offering breathtaking mountain views and a tranquil atmosphere. If you’re looking for a more secluded stay, the Cherokee Hill cabin is a brand-new, authentic Appalachian log cabin located on a private ranch in pristine Wears Valley.

Experience the peace and tranquility of a true Smoky Mountain farmhouse perched on a hill overlooking beautiful Wears Valley and our private farm. Watch horses play in the pastures at the base of Cove Mountain. Originally spanning 300 acres, our property now covers 23 acres on either side of Clabo Rd.

Guests love to stroll around, take in the stunning views, and meet our friendly animals. Enjoy horseback riding, farm experiences, and fresh egg collecting during your stay. We hope you will take advantage of all we have to offer and make your visit to Cove Mountain even more memorable! Book Now!


1. What makes the Laurel Falls Trail to Cove Mountain so popular?

A: The Laurel Falls Trail is popular for its stunning 80-foot waterfall, relatively easy hike, and beautiful natural scenery. Located in the heart of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the trail offers a mix of historical significance and breathtaking views, making it a favorite among hikers.

2. When is the best time to hike the Laurel Falls Trail to avoid crowds?

A: To avoid crowds, it’s best to hike the Laurel Falls Trail early in the morning, during the early evening, on weekdays, or during the off-season. These times generally offer a more peaceful and enjoyable hiking experience.

3. How difficult is the hike to Laurel Falls and Cove Mountain?

A: The hike to Laurel Falls is relatively easy, with a distance of just over 1.1 miles and an elevation gain of about 315 feet. The trail continues to Cove Mountain, passing through diverse landscapes, and while it becomes more challenging, it remains manageable for most hikers.

4. What can I expect to see along the Laurel Falls Trail to Cove Mountain?

A: Along the trail, you’ll encounter the stunning Laurel Falls, a canopy of rhododendron, the peaceful hum of Laurel Branch Creek, views of mountains to the south, glimpses of Mount LeConte, and an old-growth forest with impressively large trees. The summit features a historical fire tower, now an air quality monitoring station.

5. Is there a view from the summit of Cove Mountain?

A: While there isn’t much of a panoramic view from the summit of Cove Mountain, the journey to the top is filled with natural beauty and interesting sights. The overall hiking experience, including the historical fire tower, makes the trip worthwhile despite the limited summit view.

6. What accommodations does A Kings Lodge offer?

A: A Kings Lodge offers a variety of accommodations, including the Main Lodge, which sits on seven beautiful acres with breathtaking mountain views, and the Cherokee Hill cabin, an authentic Appalachian log cabin located on a private ranch in Wears Valley. Both options provide a tranquil and scenic retreat for guests.

7. What activities and amenities are available at A Kings Lodge?

A: Guests at A Kings Lodge can enjoy a range of activities and amenities, including horseback riding, farm experiences, fresh egg collecting, and exploring the beautiful property. The Main Lodge also features a large covered pavilion ideal for weddings, family reunions, and other events. The property’s friendly animals and picturesque surroundings add to the charm and appeal of the resort.


Welcome to A King’s Lodge. A private cabin experience near the heart of the Smokies.



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