Laurel-Snow Trail In Tennessee

Here is everything you need to know about the Laurel-Snow Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Tennessee
  • Length: 8 miles.
  • Type: Hiking
  • Surface: dirt
  • Managed By: Tennessee State Parks
  • Permit Required?: Yes
  • Website: Info not available.

The Laurel-Snow Trail, located in the Cumberland Plateau region of Tennessee, holds a rich historical significance that dates back to the early 1900s. Originally established as a logging railroad, the trail was an integral part of the booming timber industry in the area. The trail’s history is closely intertwined with the development of the Dayton Coal and Iron Company, which sought to exploit the vast natural resources of the region.

In the late 1800s, the Dayton Coal and Iron Company recognized the potential of the Cumberland Plateau’s abundant timber reserves. To facilitate the extraction of timber, the company constructed a narrow-gauge railroad known as the Dayton Coal and Iron Railroad. This railroad, later renamed the Laurel-Snow Railroad, was completed in 1900 and stretched for approximately 12 miles through the rugged terrain.

The Laurel-Snow Railroad played a crucial role in transporting timber from the remote forests to the company’s sawmill and coal mines. The railroad featured several trestles and bridges, including the iconic 110-foot-high Snow Arch Bridge, which was the highest railroad bridge in the South at the time. The Laurel-Snow Railroad operated until the early 1920s when the timber resources began to dwindle, leading to the closure of the railroad.

Today, the remnants of the Laurel-Snow Railroad have been transformed into the Laurel-Snow Trail, a popular hiking destination that attracts outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs alike. The trail offers a glimpse into the region’s industrial past, with remnants of the railroad, trestles, and bridges still visible along the route. The Laurel-Snow Trail stands as a testament to the ingenuity and perseverance of those who worked in the logging industry, leaving behind a lasting legacy of Tennessee’s industrial history.

While On The Trail

Access Points

The major access points or trailheads along the Laurel-Snow Trail are:

1. Laurel-Snow State Natural Area Parking Lot: This is the main trailhead for the Laurel-Snow Trail. It is located off Laurel-Snow Parkway in Dayton, Tennessee.

2. Snow Falls Trailhead: This is another access point for the trail, located near the Snow Falls waterfall. It can be reached by taking the spur trail from the main Laurel-Snow Trail.

3. Laurel Falls Trailhead: This access point is located near the Laurel Falls waterfall. It can be reached by taking the spur trail from the main Laurel-Snow Trail.

4. Richland Creek Trailhead: This access point is located near Richland Creek, offering an alternative starting point for the trail. It can be reached by taking the spur trail from the main Laurel-Snow Trail.

These are the major access points along the Laurel-Snow Trail, providing different starting points and opportunities to explore various sections of the trail.

Transportation Available

1. Uber – On-demand ridesharing service.
2. Lyft – Ride-hailing service connecting passengers with local drivers.
3. Yellow Cab – Traditional taxi service available for transportation needs.
4. Greyhound – Intercity bus service offering travel to various destinations.
5. Enterprise Rent-A-Car – Car rental service providing vehicles for short-term use.
6. Budget Car Rental – Affordable car rental service for convenient transportation.
7. Hertz – Car rental company offering a wide range of vehicles for rent.
8. Avis – Car rental service providing options for personal or business travel.
9. Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) – Public transportation system serving the Chattanooga area.
10. Mountain Goat Trail Shuttle – Shuttle service specifically catering to the Laurel-Snow Trail area.


The amenities available at the Laurel-Snow Trail include:

1. Restrooms: There are restroom facilities available at the trailhead.

2. Parking: There is a designated parking area at the trailhead for visitors.

3. Camping Sites: The trail offers several camping sites along the route for overnight stays. These sites may have fire pits and picnic tables.

4. Picnic Areas: There are designated picnic areas along the trail where visitors can stop and enjoy a meal or snack.

5. Waterfalls: The trail features multiple waterfalls, including Laurel Falls and Snow Falls, which are popular attractions for visitors.

6. Scenic Views: The trail offers stunning scenic views of the surrounding mountains, forests, and valleys.

7. Hiking Trails: There are various hiking trails within the Laurel-Snow Trail system, ranging from easy to moderate difficulty levels.

8. Historical Sites: The trail passes through the remains of an old mining town, providing a glimpse into the area’s history.

9. Wildlife Viewing: Visitors may have the opportunity to spot various wildlife species, including birds, deer, and other small mammals.

10. Interpretive Signage: Along the trail, there are informative signs that provide details about the natural and historical features of the area.

Please note that amenities may be subject to change or availability, so it is advisable to check with local authorities or trail management for the most up-to-date information.

Nearby Services

1. Laurel-Snow State Natural Area – The starting point of the trail, offering beautiful scenery and hiking opportunities.
2. Mountain Laurel Inn – A cozy lodging option located near the trail, providing comfortable accommodations.
3. The Laurel Restaurant – A nearby eatery serving delicious meals and local cuisine.
4. Snow Falls – A stunning waterfall along the trail, offering a refreshing stop during the hike.
5. Laurel Creek – A picturesque creek running alongside the trail, providing a serene atmosphere.
6. Laurel-Snow Trailhead Parking – Convenient parking area for trail visitors.
7. Emergency Services – Local emergency services available in case of any unforeseen incidents or emergencies.

Laurel-Snow Trail Difficulty Notes

The Laurel-Snow Trail offers a moderate difficulty level for hikers. The trail spans approximately 6.2 miles and features a mix of flat sections, gradual inclines, and some steeper sections. Hikers will encounter rocky terrain, stream crossings, and occasional fallen trees along the way. While the trail is well-marked and maintained, it requires a moderate level of physical fitness and endurance. The scenic beauty of the trail, including waterfalls and lush forests, makes the effort worthwhile for those seeking a rewarding outdoor adventure.

Features And Attractions

The Laurel-Snow Trail is located in Tennessee, USA, and offers a variety of scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks. Here are some notable attractions along the trail:

1. Laurel Falls: This beautiful waterfall is one of the highlights of the trail. It cascades down a series of rock formations, creating a picturesque scene.

2. Snow Falls: Another stunning waterfall along the trail, Snow Falls is known for its impressive height and the mist it creates as it plunges into the pool below.

3. Richland Creek: The trail follows the banks of Richland Creek, offering serene views of the flowing water and the surrounding lush vegetation.

4. Historic Sites: Along the trail, you’ll come across remnants of the historic Dayton Coal and Iron Company, including old coke ovens and mining structures. These sites provide a glimpse into the area’s industrial past.

5. Rock Formations: The trail passes through rocky terrain, showcasing unique rock formations and cliffs. These geological features add to the scenic beauty of the trail.

6. Hemlock Forests: The Laurel-Snow Trail is known for its dense hemlock forests, which provide a cool and shaded environment. These forests are home to various wildlife species and add to the trail’s natural charm.

7. Wildflowers: During the spring and summer months, the trail is adorned with a variety of wildflowers, including trilliums, violets, and rhododendrons. These colorful blooms enhance the trail’s beauty.

8. Overlooks: As you hike along the trail, you’ll encounter several overlooks that offer panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. These vantage points provide excellent photo opportunities.

9. Suspension Bridge: The trail features a suspension bridge that spans across Laurel Creek. Crossing this bridge adds an element of adventure to the hike and offers a unique perspective of the landscape.

10. Wildlife: The Laurel-Snow Trail is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including deer, squirrels, birds, and various reptiles. Keep an eye out for these creatures as you explore the trail.

These are just a few of the scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks that you can experience along the Laurel-Snow Trail. The trail offers a rich combination of natural beauty and historical significance, making it a popular destination for hikers and nature enthusiasts.

Usage Guidelines

1. Pets are allowed on the Laurel-Snow Trail but must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. Camping and campfires are not permitted along the trail.
3. Bicycles and motorized vehicles are not allowed on the trail.
4. Hunting and fishing are not permitted on the trail.
5. The trail is open year-round, but certain sections may be closed during inclement weather or for maintenance.
6. Hiking and walking are the only permitted activities on the trail.
7. Littering is strictly prohibited. Please carry out all trash and dispose of it properly.
8. Swimming or wading in the creek or waterfalls along the trail is not recommended.
9. Stay on designated trails and do not venture off into restricted areas.
10. Respect wildlife and do not disturb or feed any animals encountered on the trail.
11. Visitors are encouraged to leave no trace and preserve the natural beauty of the trail.
12. Overnight camping or extended stays are not allowed on the trail.
13. Visitors are responsible for their own safety and should be prepared with appropriate gear and supplies.
14. Alcohol and illegal substances are strictly prohibited on the trail.
15. Please be considerate of other hikers and maintain a peaceful and quiet environment.

Seasonal Information

The Laurel-Snow Trail, located in the Cumberland Plateau region of Tennessee, offers breathtaking views and a variety of outdoor activities for nature enthusiasts. The best times of the year to visit this trail are during the spring and fall seasons. In spring, the trail is adorned with vibrant wildflowers, and the weather is pleasant with temperatures ranging from the 60s to 70s Fahrenheit (15-25 degrees Celsius). This time of year is perfect for hiking, birdwatching, and enjoying the lush greenery surrounding the trail.

During the fall, the Laurel-Snow Trail transforms into a picturesque landscape as the leaves change colors. The trail is enveloped in hues of red, orange, and yellow, creating a stunning backdrop for hikers and photographers. The temperatures during autumn range from the 50s to 70s Fahrenheit (10-25 degrees Celsius), making it an ideal time to explore the trail without the summer heat.

It is important to note that the Laurel-Snow Trail has seasonal closures during the winter months. The trail is closed from December 15th to March 15th due to potential hazardous conditions caused by snow, ice, and fallen trees. It is advisable to plan your visit accordingly and check for any updates or closures before heading out. However, if you are an experienced hiker and enjoy winter trekking, the trail can offer a unique and serene experience during this time.

Overall, the Laurel-Snow Trail is a must-visit destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering stunning natural beauty throughout the year. Whether you prefer the vibrant colors of spring or the enchanting foliage of fall, this trail provides a memorable experience for hikers, photographers, and nature lovers alike. Just remember to plan your visit during the open seasons and be prepared for the trail’s closure during winter.


1. Wheelchair Accessibility: The Laurel-Snow Trail offers limited wheelchair accessibility, with a paved section near the trailhead suitable for wheelchair users.
2. Accessible Parking: Designated accessible parking spaces are available near the trailhead, providing convenient access for individuals with disabilities.
3. Accessible Restrooms: Accessible restrooms are located near the trailhead, equipped with features such as grab bars and wider doorways to accommodate individuals with disabilities.
4. Trail Surface: The trail surface consists of a mix of natural terrain, gravel, and uneven surfaces, which may pose challenges for wheelchair users or individuals with mobility impairments.
5. Trail Width: The trail width varies throughout the trail, with some sections being narrower and potentially limiting maneuverability for wheelchair users.
6. Trail Grade: The trail includes sections with steep grades, making it difficult for wheelchair users or individuals with mobility impairments to navigate without assistance.
7. Trail Obstacles: The trail may have obstacles such as fallen trees, rocks, or roots, which can impede wheelchair accessibility and require assistance or alternative routes.
8. Benches and Rest Areas: Benches and rest areas are available along the trail, providing opportunities for individuals to take breaks and rest if needed.
9. Assistance Animals: Service animals are permitted on the trail to assist individuals with disabilities, ensuring equal access and support during their visit.
10. Accessibility Information: The trailhead provides information boards or brochures with details on accessibility features, allowing visitors to plan their visit accordingly.

Safety Information

1. Trail Difficulty: The Laurel-Snow Trail is a moderately difficult trail with some steep sections and uneven terrain, requiring proper hiking footwear and caution.
2. Weather Awareness: Check the weather forecast before heading out and be prepared for sudden changes in weather conditions, as the trail can become slippery during rain or snow.
3. Trail Markings: Pay attention to trail markers and signs to avoid getting lost, as the trail intersects with other paths in some areas.
4. Water Sources: Carry enough water for the duration of your hike, as there are limited water sources along the trail.
5. Wildlife Encounter: Be aware of potential encounters with wildlife, including snakes, bears, and insects, and maintain a safe distance if encountered.
6. Tick Prevention: Apply insect repellent and wear long pants to protect against ticks, which are prevalent in the area.
7. Poisonous Plants: Familiarize yourself with poisonous plants such as poison ivy and oak, and avoid contact to prevent allergic reactions.
8. Sun Protection: Wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays, as parts of the trail are exposed.
9. Hiking in Groups: It is recommended to hike with a partner or in a group for safety and assistance in case of emergencies.
10. Emergency Preparedness: Carry a fully charged cell phone, a first aid kit, and a whistle in case of emergencies, and inform someone about your hiking plans.
11. Leave No Trace: Practice Leave No Trace principles by packing out all trash, staying on designated trails, and respecting the natural environment.
12. Trail Closure: Check for any trail closures or restrictions before your hike, as the trail may occasionally be closed for maintenance or safety reasons.

Conservation Notes

The conservation status of the Laurel-Snow Trail is of significant concern due to various factors impacting its ecological integrity. The trail, located in Tennessee, traverses through the Cumberland Plateau and is known for its diverse flora and fauna. However, the conservation status of this trail is currently classified as threatened.

One of the primary threats to the conservation of the Laurel-Snow Trail is habitat degradation. Human activities such as logging, mining, and urban development have resulted in the loss and fragmentation of the surrounding forests. This has led to a decline in suitable habitats for many plant and animal species that rely on the trail’s ecosystem. Additionally, invasive species have also posed a significant threat to the native flora and fauna, outcompeting and displacing them from their natural habitats.

Furthermore, the Laurel-Snow Trail faces challenges related to water pollution. Runoff from nearby agricultural activities and urban areas can introduce pollutants into the water bodies along the trail, negatively impacting aquatic life and water quality. This pollution can disrupt the delicate balance of the ecosystem and harm the species that depend on these water sources for survival.

Efforts are being made to address these conservation concerns and protect the Laurel-Snow Trail. Local conservation organizations, government agencies, and volunteers are actively engaged in habitat restoration projects, invasive species management, and water quality monitoring. These initiatives aim to mitigate the threats and ensure the long-term sustainability of the trail’s ecosystem. However, continued conservation efforts and public awareness are crucial to safeguard the ecological health and biodiversity of the Laurel-Snow Trail.

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