871 – Upland Laurel Falls (Dryland Laurel Branch)

Accessibility – Moderate Bushwhack

Height – 25-30′

Distance – 0.5 (from TH)

Beauty – 6

Photo rating – 6

Solitude – 8

GPS Info: LAT 35.30855 LONG -83.03696

Last Updated – 02-26-2022


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Upland Laurel Falls is a name I placed on the first waterfall upstream of Dryland Laurel Branch Falls. This is by no means the official name, but I need to call it something. The waterfall is about 25 feet high, which a hint of forest cluttered at the base. It is accessed via bushwhack on an overgrown logging grade that heads up the river left side of Sugar Creek before the creek crossing. In the summer it will be easy to miss and for the first 0.3 of a mile there are some steep sections. The waterfall was half a mile from where I parked and 0.2 from where the old road splits from Sugar Creek Road.

To get to the trailhead from US74, exit the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway at Exit 85 and make a slight left onto Beta Circle Rd/Steeple Rd. Follow Beta Circle Road and make an almost immediate left onto Cope Creek Road. Remain on Cope Creek Road for 2.3 miles until it dead-ends into NC107 just North of Western Carolina University. Take NC107 South for 8.4 miles and make a left onto Caney Fork Road. At 8.7 miles from NC107 make a right onto Sugar Creek Road. Sugar Creek Road is paved for more than half a mile before it turns to gravel for a short run to a bridge over Sugar Creek. If you have a vehicle with decent ground clearance you can make it to the bridge. Depending on your vehicle you can drive to a ford of the creek and start there or you can park further down the hill. Your call.