As we continue our walk along the stream, the work of beavers becomes apparent in places. Gnawed trees and dams identify the work of these rodent engineers of the animal world. After seeing a foot thick tree knocked down by a beaver, I'm glad they don't chew humans.
After walking along the water for a distance, it's time to climb upward again. If we had missed the trail blazes going upwards we would have walked along the water until running into a rock wall a few hundred yards further. The trail rises up to go over the high rock bluff.
As we ascend above the valley floor, the trail passes through tangles of pine tree roots clinging to the rocky ground. Once the trail levels off, the views are stunning. The scale of this gorge becomes apparent and it's a good place to take a picture or two. It is also a place to be aware of your position in relation to the cliff. Falling off the edge here would be very bad. So we carefully amble on the rocky ridge until reaching a fork in the trail.
The trail splits into the high water trail and the downward one to the falls. The Laurel Fork trail shelter is located on the high water trail downstream from the falls. The lower trail goes to the falls and then climbs back up to the high water trail at the falls via a rock staircase. It continues on to Dennis Cove, crossing one more bridge on the way. Most of it lies on the old narrow gauge railroad bed and is fairly level except for the bridge area. Much of it is high in elevation so be aware of the fall potential.
Since we are walking from Hampton to Laurel Falls and back, we head down the right fork. The trail descends through the rocks and trees once again to the water's edge. As we walk, the gorge becomes narrower and a bit steeper.
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