Flat Laurel Creek Trail

This trail is located in the Black Balsam area. For a list of all the trails in that area, see the Black Balsam trails list page..

This trail also crosses into these trailhead areas:

Details At a Glance

Overall Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 3.7mi
Steepness: Climbs Gently
Tread Condition: Moderately Rough
Blaze Color: Orange
USGS/USFS Number: 346
Allowed Uses: Hiking, Mountain Biking
Hikes That Use This Trail: Flat Laurel Creek

Description

Follows an old railroad grade up from NC 215 to the end of FS 816, the Black Balsam parking area. It's a gentle climb on a wide trail; it's very rocky all the way. It's also a unique trail since it's entire length is above 5000 ft. elevation.

Starts with a crossing of Bubbling Springs Branch. You should be able to rock-hop this if the water is low; if it is extremely high it might not be a safe crossing. The trail then goes generally northeast into mixed high-elevation hardwoods. The forest transitions to mostly spruce/fir by the trail's upper end.

The trail passes over an old concrete bridge with Wildcat Falls streaming underneath it, then travels along the mountainside. There are some excellent views in more open areas. Prolific rhododendron, mountain laurel and blueberry shrubs line the trail. The trail slips into the Flat Laurel Creek valley and turns southeast; its eponymous stream has some nice cascades on the left side of the trail as the creek spills out of valley.

Above the cascades, the trail follows the creek for a ways before pulling away to the right. Flat Laurel Creek valley is indeed relatively flat. The trail passes nice campsites and through grassy, high-elevation meadows. Low forests and open meadows grow to the left with a dense spruce reforestation area to the right; several Fraser fir also line the trail. Although much maintenance has been done recently improving the surface, several stream crossings and wet areas round off the hike as it swings back to the north to meet the upper the parking area.

All Photos from the Trail

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GPS Map

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Trail Segments

Trails are often made up of several connecting paths which may have different characteristics, allowed uses, and seasons. This trail is divided into multiple segments as follows:

Flat Laurel Creek - NC 215 to Sam Knob Tr.

  • Allowed Uses: Hiking, Mountain Biking
  • Length: 2.3 mi

Flat Laurel Creek - Sam Knob Tr. to Little Sam Tr.

  • Allowed Uses: Hiking, Mountain Biking
  • Length: 0.4 mi

Flat Laurel Creek - Little Sam Tr. to Ivestor Gap Parking

  • Allowed Uses: Hiking, Mountain Biking
  • Length: 1.1 mi

Intersecting Trails

  • Little Sam
  • Sam Knob
  • Feedback

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    Comments

    hulia kelly said: excellent information here!
    Friday, May 31 2013 7:14pm
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