KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The National Park Service is asking for the public’s input on a plan to improve the infrastructure around Laurel Falls. As one of the most popular trails inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the NPS is working to find ways to protect the trail for future use.

The NPS is preparing an Environmental Assessment for the proposed Laurel Falls Trail Management Plan, which will address visitor experience and safety, parking, and trail infrastructure rehabilitation. They will be accepting public input through January 6.

The park previously sought public opinion in the summer of 2021. Input received then was used to help develop the preliminary proposed action which includes “several elements for the management of the Laurel Falls Trail” including trail rehabilitation, creating trailside rest areas, building a viewing platform at the falls and parking improvements.

Currently, the NPS is seeking input on the preliminary proposed action and what issues should be considered in the Environmental Assessment.

The public can share their input through January 6, 2023, using one of the following messages:

  • Online (preferred method) at
  • By mail at: ATTN: Laurel Falls Trail Management Plan/EA, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 107 Park Headquarters Road, Gatlinburg, TN 37738

To find out more about the proposed Laurel Falls Trail Management Plan EA, visit the NPS planning website at The public is also encouraged to review the GRSM Laurel Falls Scoping Newsletter to learn more about the plan.

One way the park has worked to improve the trail is by placing parking barriers along non-parking areas near the trailhead. The barriers were in place from June 9 through Oct. 30, 2022.

The parking barriers followed a 2021 pilot program that provided trailhead parking by reservation only and forbidding parking in undesignated areas along Little River Road. The NPS said visitor feedback on the initiative was 91% positive and the amount of crowding and litter at the falls decreased.

In addition, the trail was closed for several days in November to allow a geotechnical crew to take samples of materials under the trail and behind the trail’s retaining walls. These samples will be used to inform design proposals for improving the trail tread and retaining wall as part of the Laurel Falls Trail rehabilitation project.