DATE:
4-4-2021

Out & Back
~ 4.3 miles

ELEVATION GAIN:
~ 620 ft

LOCATION:
Church Hill, TN

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Laurel Run Trail is a scenic trail within Laurel Run Park in Church Hill, TN. A fun fact about this park is that it was used in the movie, The River, in 1984. The movie stars Mel Gibson and Sissy Spacek and is about a Tennessee Farm couple facing an impending river flood onto their land. We plan to watch it soon to see if we recognize any scenery! Neither of us had even heard of this movie before, but apparently Sissy Spacek was nominated for an academy award in her role. The property now belongs to Hawkins County and has been turned into a park with a trail that leads all the way to Bays Mountain. We chose to do the Laurel Run trail, but stopped before the end of our route…more on that below

The park has different hours throughout the year that are posted on the sign. In the Spring/summer, it is open until 7. When we checked in the winter, it was only open until 4. So, be sure to plan ahead for that when you go. There is a big parking area next to multiple pavilions. There are public restrooms there as well.

Follow the signage toward the trail and you will cross a small bridge that is in front a pavilion to begin.

Along the trail, there are multiple old abandoned buildings/homesteads that are pretty interesting to look at.

The trail winds along the beautiful creek most of the way.

There is one creek crossing that would be easy to cross through the water. We didn’t have the right shoes for crossing the creek, so we decided to climb along the big tree trunks that stretched across.

It was interesting to watch the different ways each boy/my husband decided to go across. Everyone did something a little different and then changed it up on the way back depending on what worked best. These types of spots are perfect for getting the boys’ problem solving and spatial awareness skills going. They are at an age where we can be close by and make sure the situation is safe, but I try to bite my anxious tongue and let them figure out what works for them.

Soon after that spot, you will come to two different small falls. They are probably about a mile from the beginning of the trail. Both have small spots where you could have a snack or wade in the water.

1st waterfall ⬆️

2nd waterfall ⬆️

According to various reviews we read, this trail can get extremely crowded on the weekends. I can definitely see how it wouldn’t be quite as peaceful/enjoyable at the falls with a ton of people. There is not a large area to stop near the falls. We went on Easter Sunday so we only saw a few other people the whole way along the trail. This trail would probably be best on a weekday to avoid the crowd.

You can either stop at the falls and turn around, or keep going about another mile to finish the trail. The trail becomes more narrow with a few switch-backs on the incline. We went approximately another half mile and saw an additional old homestead.

Shortly after this we decided to turn around. We were getting together with family later in the afternoon and didn’t feel like we had enough time to finish out the trail. We also met a nice couple on the trail that told us the only thing left to see were a couple more abandoned homesteads. We could have also kept going significantly further and ended up at Bays Mountain. We decided we would save the homesteads for another day.

Overall, this trail is perfect for a nature walk or short hike. There is not much of an incline, so it is great for any age. Just be prepared for one small water crossing. We had a great afternoon here and would be happy to return. We will be sure to plan for a weekday next time to avoid a potential crowd. Especially if you live near the Kingsport or Church Hill area, this trail is an excellent choice!

Nature finds to look for:

DISCLAIMER: We use the “Picture This” app to help identify plants we find along the trail combined with our own nature books and study. We are by no means experts and might get it wrong sometimes! Please do not take any of our suggestions as text book or ingest anything based on what we share. Our nature finds are also based on the season in which we did our hike. If you hike the same trail in a different season, you might find totally different plants. If you notice any mistakes in our identification, please feel free to contact us and let us know so we can update it ASAP! Thank you and happy exploring!