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Hike to Laurel Falls (GSMNP)

 

The weekend before Christmas found us in Gatlinburg celebrating our anniversary as a family. As part of that trip, we took our boys hiking on the Laurel Falls trail, located about 4 miles past Sugarlands (toward Cades Cove) in Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

 

The hike is paved and *only* about 1 mile point-to-point, but it isn't without challenges. The very first thing we noticed at the trailhead were signs that warned that the use of strollers was dangerous and not recommended. Since our Bob Revolution stroller is more like an all terrain vehicle for children than a typical stroller, we decided to press on.


We knew the trail was mostly uphill, so we initially planned on pushing Isaac with the back up plan to push Jack and carry Isaac in an Ergo. Jack lasted about 5 minutes before he said his feet hurt. So we shuffled the boys around and I carried Isaac while Daniel pushed Jack.


Other signs warned to hang on to your kids because of the steep drop offs and cliffs you encounter on the trail. Truthfully I felt better having Jack strapped in our stroller than running along it!


On the upper part of the trail Jack kept telling Daniel that he was making him nervous and that they were too close to the edge.


We made it to the falls in about half-an-hour. The temperature was chilly, so we were glad that Jack was bundled up under blankets and Isaac was snuggled close to me for extra warmth. The boys did great (except at the waterfall when Jack decided he didn't want any pictures taken!).


On the way back, I moved Isaac to my back instead of my chest so that I would have a better sense of balance on the way down. Carrying him on my back is so much easier than my chest. He is such a big guy!!!


We thought Isaac might fall asleep on the return trip, but he was so excited to be on my back that he just chattered the entire way down. I think he enjoyed being able to see more from this new position. 


Laurel Falls is a great hike for kids, though don't plan on a stroller unless you have a Bob Revolution that you are comfortable pushing up and then down a hill. Jack could have hiked the trail if we had started earlier in the day and it wasn't quite so cold. It is just over 1 mile each way, but it does gain some elevation. The best part is that this trail delivers on views of mountains as well as an 80-ft waterfall at the end. The worst part was that there were quite a few people on the trail, even though it was a cold winter day.


We had a great hike and are looking forward to more hikes this coming year. One of my goals for 2016 is to get back into the habit of regularly spending time outside as a family. Having little kids makes that hard, but not impossible, and I hope that this year will find us sharing our love of the outdoors with our boys on a more regular basis.

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