DeSoto State Park has numerous waterfalls throughout the park. DeSoto Falls, the largest falls is easily accessible by car just a few miles north of the main park. Within the park, there are more than four other falls which can be accessed by short hikes. Visitors wanting to catch a glimpse of the Lost Falls or Laurel Falls have several trailhead options to access these points of interest. Starting at the Lost Falls trailhead, hikers can begin there walk down the orange trail across the road from the parking lot. The trail meanders through a heavily wooded and crosses a small stream as it heads towards Laurel Creek.
As you approach the creek, large areas of exposed sandstone rock make up the surface of the trail. In some areas, the rough surface of the rock catch pools of water, making this section a bit of a wet hike. During the spring, summer and fall, this area makes a great place for picnics or to hang up a hammock and enjoy the nature. At the Laurel creek, take the blue trail across the bridge and follow it along the basin. The stream is seasonal; during spring offering the best view. The vegetation is mostly pines and with scattered hardwoods.
As you make your way along the creek, the trail meanders through the woods until you reach Lost Falls. Falling fifteen feet, this fall can easily be missed during drier months. Being a seasonal feature, the falls is best viewed after a good rain. You will need to take a few steps off the main trail to fully enjoy the beauty of the falls before continuing along the blue trail. Watch your step, as there are several large rocks in the path after the falls.
The blue trail continues higher up from the stream at this point as it makes it way past several boulders and rock overhangs. Be sure to take a break and enjoy the coolness of this area. If you’re hiking with family, it’s a great place for the kids to explore the overhangs and climb under them.
The blue trail descends back to the creek. Taking the red trail across the creek and up the hill towards the campgrounds, you will pass by and through several large boulders before intersecting with the orange trail at the top of the hill. The intersection is marked by a large boulder on the left of the trail. Turning west, you will pass several very large rock outcroppings, which when climbed, offer a great view of the valley during the winter months. Crossing a small stream, you will soon come to Laurel Falls. Laurel Falls requires a very short hike off the trail and is marked by a stone with its name which can easily be seen. This is the larger of the two falls, falling nearly twenty feet. Again, as a seasonal feature, it is best viewed after a rain shower. A great place to cool off during the small, the falls has a large reflecting pool at the bottom.
Following the orange trail, you will transverse along a path forested with pines and hardwoods. You will reach the point where you turned onto the blue trail; again taking the orange trail back the trailhead. The path itself is a mix of clay and large stone, offering a nice barefoot hike on a warm spring or summer day. Tennis shoes work fine as well. The elevation change is moderate through the trail except for a few small up and downs when crossing the creek. If you enjoy a great hike, some nice views and water features; this is a trail you will want to check out.
The central trail head is accessible from DeSoto Parkway 1/2 miles from the back entrance. If traveling from the main entrances on Lookout Mountain Parkway, turn onto DeSoto Parkway. 1/2 mile past the campground entrance, you will see a parking lot on the right.