Laurel Falls is a popular tourist destination in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. During the day both parking areas are usually filled and people are also parking down the road. So it's best to photograph the Laurel Falls early in the morning.
The Laurel Falls trailhead is located right on Little River Road just 3.8 miles from the Sugarland Visitor Center. The GPS for the Laurel Falls trailhead is 35.672024, -83.580511.
I hiked the trail to Laurel Falls at sunrise on a week day. There was only one other photographer there who was also trying to beat the crowds. People started climbing the trail around 8am. By that time I was hiking down the trail photographing wildflowers.
The trail to Laurel Falls is a 2.5 mile round trip hike. I've seen the hike rated as both easy and moderate difficulty. Laurel Falls has a paved trail but also has a moderate incline.
There is a small rocky area that photographers can use to stand to get their compositions. This small area will fill up quickly so get there early. My favorite composition is to the far left as you are facing the falls. From this location you can get most of the cascades in the frame.
However, the rock platform where you stand is fairly close to the falls, so wide angle and ultra wide angle lenses are good choices.
Don’t forget to bring your macro photography lens. In the spring the trail to Laurel Falls is full of wildflowers that you can photograph on your way back to the trailhead.
Written by Martin Belan
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