Located just minutes from the Marshall House Inn is the Laurel River trail which is one of our favorite hikes. Approx 4 miles long this one way out and back hike was built on an old railroad grade and follows the picturesque Laurel River till it empties into the French Broad River. Great for families, this is an easy level hike with beautiful scenery.
The river offers many spots to cool off in the water or to tube. Be sure to watch for the wildlife including Blue Herons, beavers and maybe even a bear. Spring time brings a bevy of flowering wildflowers making the hike even more colorful.
A little over 3 miles into the hike you’ll see the remnants of Runion which was a logging community long since abandoned. At the end of the trail you’ll reach the point at which the Laurel River empties into the mighty French Broad River.
You can grab a cold drink, snack or ice cream at the quirky Laurel River store located just up the road from the parking lot. We also enjoy packing a lunch and stopping to eat on a boulder in the river.
Railfans will appreciate the caboose and passenger car that are located to left on the hill at the start of the trail. These cars are standard gauge so have nothing to do with the narrow gauge railroad which once ran here but make a pretty neat getaway.
Directions To the Trail Head
Turn left at the end of the Marshall House Inn drive onto Hill Street, then turn right at the bottom of the hill onto Main Street. Stay on Main St till it ends at Highway 25/70 and turn left. Stay on the highway for approx 9 miles and you’ll see a long gravel parking lot on the left side of the road at the bottom of a hill just prior to a left turn onto NC 208 towards the town of Hot Springs. Park in the lot and the trail head is at the left side of the parking lot.