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Smoky Mountains > Things to Do > Outdoors > Hiking > Cataloochee Area

Cataloochee Area

This huge area near Maggie Valley, North Carolina, covers a vast amount of trails, mostly used for horseback riding.  Horseback trails are indicated as dots in a line on the Great Smoky Mountain National Park map.  The trails in this area of the park can all be accessed from several different points.  To get to the Cataloochee Ranger Station and Campground, take the Cave Creek Road off exit 20 of Interstate 40.  The Benton MacKaye Trail serves as the northern boundary for this area of the park.

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Mount Sterling Ridge Trail

A 5.3-mile section of the Benton MacKaye Trail that runs from the Balsam Mountain Trail intersection to the Mount Sterling Trail intersection.  The Pretty Hollow Gap Trail runs down the mountain toward the Cataloochee Stables 1.4 miles from Mount Sterling Trail. 

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Mount Sterling Trail

This 1.8-mile trail comes off the Benton MacKaye Trail at Mount Sterling and heads downhill toward Mount Sterling Road.  Before the trail gets to the road, there is Long Bunk Trail that continues south.  This trail can either be accessed from the road or off the Benton MacKaye Trail.

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Long Bunk Trail

This 3.6-mile trail leads south from the Mount Sterling Trail access point on Mount Sterling Road to the Little Cataloochee Trail.

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Little Cataloochee Trail

This trail can be accessed north (0.8 miles) of the Cataloochee Stables or off of Mount Sterling Road.  From Mount Sterling Road, the trail meets the Long Bunk Trail 1 mile in.  After this, the trail goes 4.2 miles before coming to a junction of Pretty Hollow Gap Trail and Palmer Creek Trail.  From here, you can take a left and hike 0.8 miles to the Cataloochee Stables.

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Pretty Hollow Gap Trail

This 5.6-mile trail starts near Cataloochee Stables and climbs up the mountain to access the Benton MacKaye Trail.  The first 0.8 miles meets the Little Cataloochee Trail.  After the next 0.8 miles, the trail meets the Palmer Creek Trail.  After this, the trail ascends 4 miles to the Pretty Hollow Gap.  Campsite #39 is near the Palmer Creek Trail intersection.

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Palmer Creek Trail

This 3.3-mile trail starts from the Straight Fork Road near Pin Oak Gap and follows along Palmer Creek to where it meets the Pretty Hollow Gap Trail, 0.8 miles away from the Little Cataloochee Trail intersection.

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Balsam Mountain Trail (South)

Starting at Pin Oak Gap, off of Straight Fork Road, this 2.3-mile trail leads up to the Balsam Mountain section of the Benton MacKaye Trail.  On the Benton MacKaye Trail, the Balsam Mountain Trail continues for 2 miles, making it to Laurel Gap Shelter.  See Balsam Mountain Trail (North) in the Big Creek section for more details.

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Beech Gap Trail

A 5.3-mile section of the Benton MacKaye Trail linking Hyatt Ridge Trail to the Balsam Mountain Trail.  About halfway in (from either side), the trail meets the Straight Fork Road near Round Bottom and can be accessed from there.

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Hyatt Ridge Trail

A 4.4-mile trail leading from Straight Fork Road to Campsite #44.  From the road, the trail climbs 1.8 miles and accesses the Benton MacKaye Trail.  For the next 1.7 miles, the trail runs with the Benton MacKaye Trail.  The last 0.9 miles lead off the Benton MacKaye Trail and go down the mountain on the other side to lonesome campsite #44.

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Spruce Mountain Trail

A quick 1.2-mile trail that climbs up to lonesome Campsite #42.  The trailhead is off of Balsam Mountain Road (one-way).

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Flat Creek Trail

This 2.6-mile trail runs north to south along Balsam Mountain Road.  The trail can be accessed from Balsam Mountain Campground.

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Rough Fork Trail

A 6.4-mile trail that runs from the end of the main road in Cataloochee to the Heintooga Ridge Road at Polls Gap.  Campsite #40 is located along this trail.  The Caldwell Fork Trail comes off to the left 2.9 miles from Cataloochee Stables.  The trail ends at Polls Gap, the same place where Hemphill Bald Trail comes in.

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Big Fork Ridge Trail

A 3.2-mile trail that runs from the end of the road from Cataloochee Stables to the Caldwell Fork Trail intersection.

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Caldwell Fork Trail

Totaling 6.3 miles in length, the trail starts at Cataloochee Campground and merges at the end with Rough Fork Trail.  Starting at Cataloochee Campground, the trail runs 0.8 miles to the point where Boogerman Trail starts on left.  From this intersection, the Caldwell Fork Trail runs 1.9 miles to where the Boogerman Trail ends.  Going 0.5 miles more, the trail comes to an intersection of Big Fork Ridge Trail (on the right) and McKee Branch Trail (on the left).  The trail then goes for 1.4 more miles where Hemphill Bald Trail veers off to the left.  From there, it is 1.7 miles to where Caldwell Fork Trail merges with the Rough Fork Trail.  Campsite #41 is located on this section.

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Hemphill Bald Trail

A trail starting from Polls Gap along Heintooga Ridge Road and ending at Caldwell Fork Trail.  This 8.5-mile trail starts off going 5.5 miles from Polls Gap, along the southern border of the park, to Double Gap.  From Double Gap, the trail runs 3 miles up to the Caldwell Fork Trail.

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Boogerman Trail

A 3.9-mile side trail that leads off the Caldwell Fork Trail, 0.8 miles from the Cataloochee Campground and meets back up with the Caldwell Fork trail.  There is a 1.9-mile distance from where the Boogerman Trail leads off of Caldwell Fork Trail to where it meets back with it.  This trail could be used for a great 5.8-mile horsebacking loop trip.

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McKee Branch Trail

A 2.3-mile trail leading from the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center to the trail junction of Caldwell Fork Trail and Big Fork Ridge Trail.

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Cataloochee Divide Trail

This trail is 6.4 miles in length and can be accessed from either the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center or along the Cove Creek Road near Cove Creek Gap.  The trail continues on from the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center to Double Gap.

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