Flat Laurel Creek starts in the shadow of Black Balsam Knob and Sam Knob and it regularly accessed from the Flat Laurel Creek Trail. On my only previous visit I had hiked in from Black Balsam Road, following the creek from the headwaters near the trailhead down to where the dribble of a creek was cascading down numerous falls. On that visit years ago the extent of my visit was reaching the top of the big drop, where I could see the huge boulder down below. This visit was back in my hiking infancy (March of 2015) before I did things like creekwalk or bushwhack.
On 10-06-2018 I got the opportunity to revisit Flat Laurel Creek but from a different starting and ending point. On this day there was no hike down from Black Balsam Road but instead a creekwalk up from NC215 starting at three-arch bridge and ending on NC215 at the parking area for Wildcat Falls. The total distance on the hike was 3.6 miles, about 1.1 miles of it walking the creek and bushwhacking and the rest hiking to the creek and hiking back to the second vehicle.
The nice thing about this hike was the creekwalk was upstream and the hike out was downhill providing the best of both worlds. The bad part was the was difficultly of the creekwalk. At times it had the feel of Bonas Defeat, as we were forced to climb over boulders, scale waterfalls and navigate tricky creek crossings. It was not a hike that most will want to undertake but for those that enjoy a challenging creekwalk, lots of falling water and some amazing sites, this is a worthwhile hike.
I got very little for you regarding the hike specifics other than leave a car at Wildcat Falls trailhead before starting. The creek is the route and I didn’t leave it very often. There is a lot more vertical climbing than Bonas Defeat. To avoid some of this you can bushwhack but the people I was with who did bushwhack said it was horrible. Before you go, be sure to have an idea of where you want to hike out to the road. I headed up from downstream of the main drop. I did see everything with the exception of the slides above this drop but I had seen them before. Most everything you see in the pictures we had to climb up or go around. It is kind of a shame to call these one waterfall.
The pictures are arranged by their location on the creek with the furthest downstream first and finishing with the Big Drop. Did I mention there was a lot of nice color on the trees and lots of leaves dotting the rocks?