Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Rough Fork Trail Cataloochee Valley 5/14/2011

The Rough Fork trail head is at the end of the Cataloochee Valley Road.  The trail is a continuation of the road which is gated at this point.  The trail follows Rough Fork creek for the first mile and a half crossing it several times.  The creek is not right next to the trail but there are numerous short trails leading to it.  The trail is mostly level for the first mile to the Woody house.

The first creek crossing occurs at about a half mile from the trail head at a single log bridge.  At the second bridge a short distance later we saw about a three foot snake in the water.  On the way back we saw a larger snake stretched out on a branch on the other side of the bridge.  I was glad that we were on a bridge and not in the water.

As we exited the second bridge the trail was wet for about 200 feet.  A small run coming in on the right had turned the trail into a creek but it was only an inch or two deep and there were plenty of rocks to step on.  Just around the corner we crossed a third bridge and began to see the Woody house ahead.  There was a group of butterflies in the trail by the house.

The Woody house is set back from the trail and the front yard and nearest fields have been kept open.  To the right of the house is a springhouse where the water from a small run kept the food stored there cool.  This house started as a cabin and had several frame additions added over the years.  You can enter the house and walk through all of the rooms including upstairs.

Beyond the house the trail begins to climb although still not steeply.  There were lots of berry bushes near the house.   There were a number of varieties of flowers including trillium along the next half mile.  This section of the trail ends with a final creek crossing with no bridge.  The water is not deep and there are rocks to hop.  Campsite 40 is just off the trail at this point.

From here the trail becomes steep and climbs constantly for the next mile and a half to the intersection with the Caldwell Fork trail.  You can see where the old road once continued here but it is now single track in areas due to erosion and forest growth.  There were varieties of flowers that we hadn't seen at the lower elevations and some really big Poplar trees further up. 

We saw a lot of elk prints in the muddy areas including places where the elk appeared to have slid in the mud.  We saw chipmunks and heard wild turkeys but didn't spot the elk.  There were some views higher up of the ridges across the valley but no wide open vistas.  We turned around at the Caldwell Fork intersection for a round trip hike of six miles. 


  1. Thanks for this review! Approximately how many miles is it until you hit the Woody House?

    1. It is only about one mile to the house. The trail is wide and level to there. Past that point it climbs the mountain.