The Smoky Mountains roll for miles cutting through the dense fog and fresh mountain crisp air. It is a beautiful morning and we are thrilled to be in the mountains for the weekend. If you haven’t been to the Smokies, the park is massive and covers a span from North Carolina to Tennessee. We are in the more secluded section of the park called Cataloochee on
the North Carolina side. The adventure begins on the car ride in. Traversing blind turns with no guard rails as the narrow gravel road snakes through the mountain side. We can assure this though, it’s well worth the journey. With far less traffic in this quaint area of the park, the vibe is refreshingly peaceful. Herds of elk and wild turkey can be frequently be seen here as they roam freely across the grassy fields.
We are making home at the Cataloochee campground for the weekend. If you decide to camp here, make sure to reserve your campsite in advance. This area of the park doesn’t have an office or ranger station to walk into. Short summary – there isn’t anyone to talk to. Unless you catch a ranger out and about, which are usually keeping an eye on the elk herds. There are 27 sites that nestle against a peaceful stream and are shaded thanks to the forest canopy. You won’t be roughing it, as the amenities include firepits, bear proof trash cans, restrooms, and running water. It’s open mid-March through October. If you are backpacking and seeking solitude, there are also backcountry camp sites available, but make sure to get a Permit.
So what’s there to do here?
We enjoy hitting the trails and watching the wildlife. There are endless options when it comes to hiking in the valley. The two most common trails are the Boogerman Trail (great name right?) and the Little Cataloochee. The Boogerman is a seven-mile loop through the old-growth forest, and the Little Cataloochee Trail is a 5.2 mile hike that travels through the rolling hills of the valley and past historic structures including a church built in 1889. This bridges are pretty rad also.
The best way to finish up a long day of hiking is with a warm campfire cooked meal, some tasty s’mores, and a frosty ice cold beer.
We slept like babies in the Flash 3 tent, other than the occasional mating call from a bull in the distance. It’s mating season for the elk in September and October.
We have been tracking Bigfoot for a while now, but the search is finally over. We found him!