The Laurel River is located in the Pisgah National Forest just outside the town of Hot Springs, NC. The river winds down from the mountains, curving along the way and interrupted by period rapids, until it’s junction with the French Broad River.
Along the banks of the river once existed an old timber railroad. The tracks have long since been removed and are now replaced by a 4 mile long hiking trail.
At approximately the 3 mile mark the rapids end for a bit, leaving a long pool of crystal clear water in a relatively deep basin. The water is accessible on both sides to swimmers and the locals have tied swinging ropes to nearby trees. Being in the 40s, the only one of our group that took part in swimming was Gus, but I’d be willing to make the trip back in warmer months.