Carter County

Appalachian Trail (Dennis Cove to U.S. Highway 321)

An especially scenic and diverse portion of the AT

One of the trailheads is located at the back of the parking lot on Dennis Cove Road (off Highway 321); the other is located across the highway from the parking lot in Shook Branch Recreation Area on Highway 321.

Beginning at the Dennis Cove end, the trail passes through a fence and runs alongside Laurel Creek. At .7 mile it crosses the creek and runs alongside it for a bit longer before ascending to the rim of the gorge. A small spur trail about a mile into the hike leads to the top of Potato Top, which offers some stunning views of the gorge. A little past the mile mark, the AT intersects Laurel Falls Trail; take the fork that descends sharply to the left to stay on the AT and see Laurel Falls. Half a mile past the falls the Laurel Fork Shelter, which sleeps six, can be found (a water source is located just north of the shelter).

The rest of the trail offers scenic views from various ridges, ending 200 yards from the picnic area in Shook Branch Recreation Area.

Length: 8.6 miles

Difficulty: 7


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