Little Cataloochee Trail, Great Smokey Mountains National Park - June 3, 2018

scatman

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This trip was a 5.5 mile hike (round trip) along the Little Cataloochee Trail, located in the northeast portion of the Park. This is a good hike for those interested in some of the history of the Park, as some of the original cabins, a church, and two cemeteries are still intact and preserved from some of the original settlers of the area. This area of the Park also has a personal interest for me, due to the fact that some of my old Noland relatives had to move from Cataloochee when the national park was established back in 1934. We did and out and back on this trail, but if one wanted to, you could continue all the way into Cataloochee proper by hiking the entire length. This would require a shuttle though.


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Overview map of our route


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Entrance sign at Cove Creek Gap

As we made our way along the trail (actually a dirt road), we soon arrived at a road junction with the right hand fork heading uphill to the Hannah Cemetery. We decided we would head up to the cemetery on our return, so we continued on the left fork. At the one mile mark, just off the road was the Hannah Cabin. The cabin was not a very big structure, and I noticed the shortness of the door frame. I suppose the original occupants were quite a bit shorter than myself. The cabin consisted of a front porch, a chimney, both a first floor and second floor accessed by a small stairway, a front door and back door, but no windows.

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Sign located at the trialhead

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Swallowtail


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Mountain Laurel


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Junction sign for the Hannah Cemetery


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Little Cataloochee Trail (road)

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The Hannah Cabin

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Front view of the Hannah Cabin


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Resting up. :twothumbs:

After exploring the area around the cabin, we continued on to our next stop, which was the Little Cataloochee Baptist Church located another mile up the trail. When we arrived at the church, some of the folks whose ancestors had been forced to leave the Park, were just finishing up a reunion. They told us if we had hiked in a half hour earlier, they would have fed us. :( Just our luck! It turns out the the top brass from the Park were also in attendance. Talking with some of the attendees, they were actually supposed to have the reunion the weekend before, but because of all the rain due to the tropical storm that hit the area, they decide to delay it a week.

After everyone had left, we checked out the church and cemetery before moving on.

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Lots of ferns along the this trail

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Little Cataloochee Baptist Church - located on top of a small hill. Reunion goers calling it a day.


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View from the front of the church


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Inside peak


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Adjoining cemetery


Our next stop was .6 miles further down the road - the Cook Cabin. This cabin was more substantial than the Hannah Cabin being a bit larger with a wrap around porch and some windows. It also had two stories and the door frame was again shorter than what I would have expected. Across the trail from the cabin was an old foundation for what I presume was another cabin at one time, though I guess it could have been an apple house or something of that sort. It seemed too big for this though. Exploring the woods behind the foundation, I ran into an old trail that I'll need to go back and explore the next time I'm back there.

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The Cook Cabin

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Side view of the Cook Cabin

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Snake at the Cook Cabin

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Rocking the Backcountrypost T-shirt on the porch of the Cook Cabin

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Some of the old foundation across the trail from the Cook Place

After eating a snack, we turned around and headed back the way we had hiked in, but this time stopping at the Hannah Cemetery


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Little Cataloochee Creek

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Sign for the Hannah Cemetery

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The Hannah Cemetery

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This man, John A Denton, was born in 1822. This was the oldest birth I could find on a headstone in the cemetery.

After finishing up at the cemetery, we returned to our vehicle. Along the way we could barely get a glimpse of Noland Mountain. Once back at the trailhead, we drove to Cataloochee proper to look at some of the other structures. While in Cataloochee, we saw wild turkeys and elk, one of which had just given birth to a newborn calf.

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You can just make out Noland Mountain through the trees

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The Palmer House

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Noland ancestors who had to leave Cataloochee when the Park was established

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Another Noland that lived in Cataloochee

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The Palmer Chapel Methodist Church

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Front view of Methodist Church

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A peak inside

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This elk had just given birth to her calf. We got to watch her lick off the afterbirth and then see the calf take its first wobbly steps. I had never seen this in the wild before.

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More elk and a few wild turkeys

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An elk in Cataloochee

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The Caldwell House

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Look back down into the Cataloochee Valley on our way out.

The end.
 
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Vegan.Hiker

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Very interesting history scat. You referenced "reunion-goers" at the church, Did your family have a reunion of the Nolands at the park? What year did they get the boot by the way?
 

Wanderlust073

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Man that’s super cool seeing the elk birth.
 

scatman

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Very interesting history scat. You referenced "reunion-goers" at the church, Did your family have a reunion of the Nolands at the park? What year did they get the boot by the way?

No, that's not my family reunion. Only descendants of the original families that settled in Catalochee/Little Cataloochee are invited, though apparently if you happen to show up at the right time on the right day, they will feed you. :) So the Nolands that settled the Cataloochee area were related to the Nolands that settled in the Fines Creek area of western NC. I am a descendant of the Fines Creek Nolands. I haven't been to a Noland reunion since I was 14 (that's what moving to Utah will do to you). I do recall when I was a boy (11 or 12ish) some of the old timers at the reunion discussing being removed from Cataloochee. Removed might be to harsh a word perhaps. I believe the federal government gave the families the option of staying on their homesteads for the remainder of their lives but they would have to cease farming and logging, thus essentially forcing their hand to move since they were farmers. I do believe some stayed until death though in other areas of the Park. I'm not sure the exact date that the Nolands left their land in the Cataloochee area. I would guess the governmnet probably gave them a few years to make the move if that is what they chose to do.
 

kwc

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Pretty sweet report & photos @scatman !! I'm guessing that wearing a kilt is verboten in this neck of woods ... might lead to some confusion amongst the locals perhaps. Nice to see another part of the park ... haven't had the chance to visit that section yet.
 

Miya

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Oh my gosh, for only a 5.5 mile hike, it was FILLED with amazing things! That 'Resting up' shot is an awesome photo to have! The 'Cook Cabin' photo is framed so well by the trees, great shot!
IDK if anyone watches The Walking Dead, but the Palmer Church reminds me of that. Hah, spooky...
What a treat to witness the birth of that calf! Great trip, thanks for sharing!
 

scatman

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Pretty sweet report & photos @scatman !! I'm guessing that wearing a kilt is verboten in this neck of woods ... might lead to some confusion amongst the locals perhaps. Nice to see another part of the park ... haven't had the chance to visit that section yet.

Do you mean like if I hear banjo music I should start hiking faster? :frantic: Most of the settlers of Western NC and Eastern Tennessee, including myself, are of Scotch-Irish ancestry, so I think I would have been alright if I had worn my kilt. They probably would have broken out into a hillbilly clog just for the occasion. :dance:

It's worth your time if you are ever in the area to check Cataloochee out.
 
Last edited:

scatman

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Oh my gosh, for only a 5.5 mile hike, it was FILLED with amazing things! That 'Resting up' shot is an awesome photo to have! The 'Cook Cabin' photo is framed so well by the trees, great shot!
IDK if anyone watches The Walking Dead, but the Palmer Church reminds me of that. Hah, spooky...
What a treat to witness the birth of that calf! Great trip, thanks for sharing!

Yes, lots to see on this short hike - watch out for the zombies! :)

Yeah, the elk calf was the highlight of the day for me.
 

wsp_scott

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I love that part of the park. I had lunch on the porch of the Cook Cabin a couple years ago, turned my back for a minute and a mouse started chewing on my gorp bag.
 

scatman

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I love that part of the park. I had lunch on the porch of the Cook Cabin a couple years ago, turned my back for a minute and a mouse started chewing on my gorp bag.

Too funny. We didn't see any mice but the snake slithered out from underneath the cabin and when I tried to get closer to get a better shot, it went right back under.
 

wsp_scott

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Too funny. We didn't see any mice but the snake slithered out from underneath the cabin and when I tried to get closer to get a better shot, it went right back under.

Now I have another reason to avoid that porch :)
 
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