Hiking the North Carolina Mountains – Laurel River Trail

If you want a taste of the North Carolina back country while enjoying a moderately easy hiking trail that offers splendid views, great fishing, swimming and camping, then Laurel River Trail is just for you!

By JP Chartier

Bring along the whole family for a quiet and relaxing hike along a beautiful river that includes rapids and swimming holes. Be sure to pack a lunch, because there are several excellent spots to sit along the rocky cliffs to enjoy your meal.


Near the town of Hot Springs, North Carolina, secluded and scenic, hidden on the side of a road is where you will find the trail-head for the Laurel River Trail. There is a small parking area to park your vehicle at the entrance.

The beginning of the trail runs through private property, but don’t worry you wont be trespassing. There is a rental house with a beautiful view of the river just off to the side of the trail with a couple comfortable looking wooden chairs situated neatly on freshly cut grass.

Next, up on a hill to the left side off the trail, an old railroad car, rusted and long ago deserted sits half hidden amidst the flora, remnants of a long ago railway that followed the river.

This is a moderately easy, family friendly trail that follows the Laurel River until it  runs into the French Broad River.



A couple miles into the hike I stop and make camp for the night, then I go explore the area some more. I counted about four different campsite areas along the 3.5 mile trail, this being the nicest of them all. As you can see, the sites are clean and well-kept, there is even a nice fire pit area already set up for you. 


The river is only about 30 yards from this campsite, and that night I was lulled to sleep by the pleasant sounds of rushing water from the nearby rapids, honestly, I can’t think of a more pleasant way to go to sleep – can you?


Further along the trail, toward the end, the trail thins out drastically – just ahead is the intersection of the Laurel River and the French Broad River. What a great way to spend the weekend, hiking the North Carolina Mountains! 


As the sound of the rapids fade in the distance, the scene opens up and this lonely looking railroad track appears suddenly. It is so peaceful here, the noise of the city is just a memory, and the views are captivating! 


Three and a half miles of trail culminates with the intersection of two rivers, the waters of the Laurel River mix with the waters of the French Broad River. This would be a perfect place for a painter to set up their easel and paint away the afternoon. A background of sleepy, mist shrouded mountains stands guard over the serenity of the two rivers. 


There are waterfalls, swimming holes, excellent trout and small-mouth bass fishing, camping and beauty by the bucketful’s here – everything you could ever want on your hike.

Listen to the roar of the rapids…

Click Here: Laurel River Video 

Trail Information

  • Length: 7 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 220 feet
  • Trail Type: Out-and-back
  • Skill Level: Easy to moderate
  • Duration: 3.5 hour
  • Trailhead Elevation: 1,650 feet


  1. Take I-26 W to exit 19A  (25N/70W)
  2. Follow 25/70 for 21.3 miles
  3. The parking area is located at the intersection of 25/70 and 208 on the left-hand side of the road



JP Chartier

Hi my name is JP Chartier and I write for Gutter Pup Adventures.com where you can expect to read well-written and entertaining articles about the people and places that often get overlooked at many popular vacation destinations around the world. You will also find articles on camping, hiking, kayaking and several other popular vacation activities here too.

My goal is to seek out the hidden ‘gems’ for you and bring them alive through my writing and photographs, so your next trip or vacation will be a much more rewarding and fulfilling experience.


  1. Hi there! This is my first visit to your blog!
    We are a collection of volunteers and starting a new initiative in a community in the
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    Martese Alto da Lapa recently posted…Martese Alto da LapaMy Profile

  2. What a peaceful looking trail! I so miss hiking in the mountains of North Carolina. It’s so beautiful there!
    Amy recently posted…6 reasons why you need an airline credit cardMy Profile

  3. JP,

    Wouldn’t mind some trout on a BBQ. 😉 Love doing a bit of camping.. So good, isn’t it? 😀

    Good to see you again my friend!


    Ken Kai recently posted…Dreamland Beach: You Won’t Regret Coming HereMy Profile

  4. beautiful place to camp – except that I’d prefer a cabin and some comforts! 🙂
    Andrew recently posted…A Date With Malaria Part TwoMy Profile

  5. Looks like a gorgeous little trail with a lot to do and great camping. My kind of adventure. Definitely would love to hike this trail next time I am in the area.
    Traveling Ted recently posted…Spider monkey silhouette in CorcovadoMy Profile

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