Big Laurel and Mooney Falls are very close to each other and we’ll do both. Both hikes are moderate and are family friendly. The hike to the 25′ high Big Laurel Falls is about 3/4 mile round trip and Mooney Falls is only 1/2 mile. So, we could combine these 2 waterfalls with Rufus Morgan Falls and have a nice 1/2 day to full day 3 waterfall hike!
Directions: From the intersection of US441/23 and US64 in Franklin, drive west on 64 for 12 miles and turn left on West Old Murphy Rd. Drive just under 2 miles and turn right on FR67 at the sign for Standing Indian Campground. In 1.7 miles the road forks. The right fork leads into the campground, but stay left and drive an additional 5.1 miles to a pullout on the right. There’s a sign here for the Laurel Falls and Timber Ridge Trails.
Begin the hike at the trail sign. In a very short distance, come to a ‘T’ intersection. Turn right here and continue a short distance to some nice cascades and a foot bridge over Mooney Creek. Cross the creek and bear right on the Big Laurel Falls Trail. The trail soon leaves Mooney Creek, but then picks up the Nantahala River as it heads towards it’s origin at the confluence of Kilby Creek, Gulf Fork, and Big Laurel Branch. By the time you reach Big Laurel Falls at the end of the 3/4 mile hike, you will be on Big Laurel Branch and may not have even noticed the other 2 creeks that you passed a short distance back. The waterfall is in a very scenic small cove and it’s a good thing the parking area is small because there really isn’t much room for a lot of people.