Cataloochee in Great Smoky Mountains National Park ...
Cataloochee Driving Trail is located in Cataloochee Valley. Cataloochee Valley is nestled among some of the most rugged mountains in the southeastern United States.
Surrounded by 6,000-foot peaks, this isolated valley was the largest and most prosperous settlement in what is now Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Once known for its farms and orchards, today's Cataloochee is one of the most picturesque areas of the park.
• Historic buildings: Cook Cabin reconstructed in Little Cataloochee
• Fishing: Pick up fishing regulations at a park visitor center. A Tennessee or North Carolina fishing license is required to fish within park boundaries. A fishing license may be purchased in a nearby community.
• Camping: A primitive campground with 27 first-come, first-served sites. Open mid-March - October. Tent or RVs up to 31 feet.
• Hiking: There are many enjoyable trails to hike in Cataloochee. Several of these designated backcountry campsites (camping by permit only) are along many of these trails.
• Horse camp: Call (800) 365-2267 or
Make reservation online.
• Wildlife viewing area
Directions: From I-40, exit at North Carolina exit #20. After 0.2 mile, turn right and follow the signs 11 miles into Cataloochee Valley. To get there from Oconaluftee or Cherokee, take the Blue Ridge Parkway to Highway 19. Follow 19 (toward Asheville) through Maggie Valley. Turn left onto Highway 276 N. Just before the entrance ramp to I-40 (but past gas station), turn left and follow the signs 11 more miles to Cataloochee.
Cataloochee historic buildings
Hiking Trails in Cataloochee:
• Boogerman Trail is named for Robert "Boogerman" Palmer, whose homesite you will see as you complete this moderately challenging 7-mile loop trail, which can take between 2 and 3 hours to complete. You will gain nearly 850 feet on your way to 3,600 feet at the trail's highest point. The trail is well maintained, and this hike offers views of some of the largest trees in the area, old homesites (including Palmer's) and mountain streams. This area was spared from the logging operations which dominated much of the Smokies area before the land was purchased for the Park.
At mile 3.8 of your loop, the trail turns down to the right alongside Snake Branch, around a rock wall, and across a small stream. Here you will see some clearings, old fence posts and piles of stone, which indicate where homesites previously existed near the creek.
Nearing the five-mile point you will cross Snake Branch. In an area of towering hemlocks you will begin crossing Caldwell Fork several times via log footbridges. The stream offers up picturesque views of both quiet, deep pools, and noisy falls. Several hundred yards before crossing Cataloochee Creek at approximately mile 7.4, and completion of the loop, you will see the remains of a cabin and barn built by Carson Messer.
After following the directions from I-40, NC 276, and Cove Creek Road, navigate your way to the Caldwell Fork Trail (follow the signs). Cross Cataloochee Creek on a footbridge and you'll enter a stand of white pines. When the trail splits, stay right and climb a narrow edge along Caldwell Fork. You'll cross Caldwell Fork on a footbridge and enter an area of old-growth trees. You will pass through a gap and traverse an area dominated by white pines. At mile 2.8, you will encounter the Palmer (Boogerman) homesite.
• Caldwell Fork Trail is a moderate trail which follows a rushing mountain river. There are several foot bridges which keep you from getting your feet wet. The trail is heavily used by horse traffic, consequently it is mired in places. The trail travels through a beautiful old poplar forest which is particularly attractive during the fall when the leaves turn yellow. One of the largest trees along the route is 8 feet in diameter. This trail is recommended for winter hiking.
From Waterville, NC, Take the twisty SR 32 south. Bear left at the fork and continue to the Cataloochee Ranger Station. The trail begins between campground and ranger station.
• Rough Fork Trail is a 6.5 mile trail that follows a beautiful trout stream along a gravel road in the mid section of the Cataloochee Valley. The trail passes several old farm sites which offer views of old hardwood forests. The trail narrows midway following an old railroad grade for a couple miles until it reaches Polls Gap Trail. There is a primitive campsite along the route.
From Waterville, NC, Take the twisty SR 32 south bearing left at the fork and travel to the Cataloochee Ranger Station. Trail begins southwest of the ranger station.