This is a large, robust, aquatic salamander with squarish yellowish-brown, alternating dorsal blotches, pale undersides, and a poorly defined line from the eye to the angle of the jaw. The adult measures 8-15 cm. The dorsum is usually dark brown, usually with two rows of irregular, light-colored yellowish blotches. The color of the venter is variable, but usually grayish. Spawning occurs chiefly in June, when an average of 40 eggs are attached to the underside of rocks in the main current. The female stays with the eggs until they hatch in about 2.5 months. Hatching occurs in late August and September.
This species is known only from four tributaries of Laurel Creek on Whitetop Mountain. The total range of this species extends from the Whitetop Mountain localities to northeastern Georgia. It is found on the bottom of shallow, cool, well-oxygenated waters, commonly in riffle or rapidly flowing areas. It is restricted to relatively steep headwater streams. Areas with rough, broken rocks are preferred.
This species feeds mainly on aquatic insects.