Height: 30 feet
Trail Type: Dirt and rock
Hike Distance: 0.3 miles round trip
Known locally by the Appalachian State students as Trash Can Falls, Laurel Creek Falls is tucked away near the highway, close to the Watauga River. The site is popular with the college kids, and you’ll likely see a couple dozen hanging out along the banks and in various deep pools in the mini gorge.
The falls aren’t anything spectacular on their own, and it’s impossible to photograph the whole thing. There’s a short drop up at the top before the creek narrows and squeezes through a small chute before emptying at the base.
From the intersection of US 321 and US 421 in downtown Boone, head north on US 321/421 for 6.4 miles. When the two highways split, take US 321 north for 5.4 miles. There is a decent sized pull out on the right, which provides access to the trail, as well as the Watauga River Gorge.
The trail begins a few yards down the road on the other side of the highway. The path is well-maintained, though there could be a lot of poison ivy and oak along the way. There are two main areas to see the falls. If you want to see the base, there’s a steep scramble down. To get to the top with the deeper swimming holes, continue up the trail and hop the rocks as far as you want.