Big Laurel Narrows

Big Laurel cuts a steep, rugged gorge out of Madison County, NC. It’s more than 1,200 feet deep and the portion called The Narrows is the most dramatic part of the gorge. A low wall of bedrock forces the creek left and accelerates the water enough to gouge out a really deep channel that’s about 200 feet long overall. A boulder garden at the lower end limits the fat spot to something like 80 to 100 feet.

And above that hangs an epic rope swing. It’s fastened 40 feet up. There’s a lower swing, also. It’s a big deal for a youngster when they work up enough courage to go off the big swing. The water is plenty deep during all but the lowest conditions. The danger is that, with such a long pendulum, riders must be careful not to drop on the opposing rocks. Remind the kids that they have to release early.

As befits a high activity spot like this, there’s almost no place to sit. About the only horizontal area creekside is where the drystone wall for the rail bed has collapsed leaving a few quarried stones flat enough to perch on. So it loses points for usability. Lots of visitors, also.

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