Sunday, October 14, 2012

Cataloochee, Smoky Mountains

Rough Fork Trail 2.9
Caldwell Fork Trail 1.5
Campsite #41
Day one total: 4.4 Miles
Caldwell Fork Trail 2.1
Boogerman Trail 4.1
Caldwell Fork Trail 0.8
Road walk 2.7
Day two total: 9.4
Total Miles: 14.1

Lora and I went to Cataloochee in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  This was the first time in that area for both of us.  She wanted to see the Elk and old growth trees.  We went in on Cove Creek Road and the colors were wonderful.  On the way in after you pass the campground, there is the Ranger House, a church, a school house and another house that have been restored.  When we got to the fields the road was lined with cars and people setting out in lawn chairs.  It looked like they where waiting for the Elk to be released.  We drove to the end of the park to our trailhead for the Rough Fork Trail.

After we packed up, we headed into the woods and within the first hundred yards we had seen six Elk.  The first three were laying by the side of the trail.  It was funny to think that all those people were in the fields waiting.

We did do a tour of the Woody house, another restored structure on the trail, on the way through.  Campsite #40 is a smaller campsite covered with large downed trees by the creek.  It has three different small sites.

We got to see some large trees, but also an incredible large poplar tree off the trail before campsite #41.  Campsite #41 is a large campsite along the creek.  There were four other groups in the campsite before we got there.  We got to listen to an owl during the evening hours while setting around the campfire.  We had a very peaceful night with lots of stars.

The next morning we headed out again.  We got to see more large trees, many rock walls, and old home sites.  There is one section of the Boogerman trail that has numerous large old growth trees.

When we got back to the valley we got to see two different herds of Elk and a flock of turkeys.  Cars were once again parked all along the fields with people in lawn chairs.  This time they did have something to look at.  We got in the car and then took the Mt. Sterling road on the way out.  It is a long mostly one lane gravel road that curves through the mountains.  A very beautiful trip.


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