I've always climbed Laurel and then descended Pilot Rock and sometime add in Pilot Cove - Slate Rock. How does Laurel feel as an out and back? I know it's not as steep as Pilot but it would be a chill 6 mile descent vs a chunky 2 mile on Pilot. I don't see any easy ways to shuttle Laurel and it I don't even know if you could get to the trail from the Parkway as Trailforks shows that Laurel comes close but doesn't connect to the BRP. Just wondering for those who have descended Laurel how does it rate on the fun-o-meter?
I've done it as an out-and-back a couple of times. It's nice. It's definitely not a rowdy descent once you get below Sassafras Gap, but it is enough that the descent is a very low effort ride back to the TH. Between Sassafras and Pilot, though, it's another story. That section will be steep and rowdy, of course. When I've done this as an out-and-back, Sassafras Gap is my turnaround point. If I'm feeling up to the hike-a-bike up at the top of Laurel, then I'm going to ride down Pilot.
You can hike-a-bike from the Parkway down, and there are actually a couple ways to do it. One way drops you in right at the top of Pilot and the intersection with the Laurel Mtn connector (as shown on TF), and you'll see other people doing this to shuttle Pilot. The other option I haven't hiked the full length (I turned down this by accident once when climbing Laurel), and it's got some pretty technical spots on it. It's actually still Laurel until it intersects with Buck Spring Trail. I've hiked parts of Buck Spring Trail before, and this would be the much longer and more circuitous route to get down to Laurel, I think.