Cataloochee Valley & the return of the Elk
A variety of historic buildings have been preserved in the valley, including two churches, a school, and several homes and outbuildings. This is the best place in the park to see historic frame buildings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Cataloochee Valley is nestled among some of the most rugged mountains in the southeastern United States. Surrounded by 6000-foot peaks, this isolated valley was one of the largest and most prosperous settlements in what is now the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Some 1,200 people lived in this lovely mountain valley in 1910. Most made their living by farming, including commercial apple growing, but an early tourism industry developed in Cataloochee with some families boarding fishermen and other tourists who wished to vacation in the mountains.
Visitors to Cataloochee also enjoy viewing deer, elk, turkey, and other wildlife. Wildlife watching can be especially fruitful during mornings and evenings in the valley’s open fields.
The Boogerman Trail, a seven-mile loop that takes in groves of old-growth forest, is popular with hikers. Cataloochee Creek and its tributaries are noted for their populations of wild trout. Information and exhibits are available seasonally at the Palmer House and a self-guiding tour booklet may be purchased from a dispenser near the entrance to the valley.