We recently went on a much anticipated trip to Great Smoky Mountain National Park with our kids. We reserved a spot in Cataloochee Campground a few months back with hopes of cool temps and bugling elk. Our hopes were rewarded, but unfortunately only my son and I were able to enjoy the park.
The four of us were on the precipice of the Cataloochee Valley that Friday when our daughter decided to run a fever and quickly get rid of her dinner. We decided to turn around and drive 2 hours back home rather than have a blog post about how to camp with kids that have the stomach bug.
Saturday morning, the boys made their way back to Cataloochee. Arriving at the park around mid day, we set up camp and decided to romp around the valley.
This valley was once a busy community with a vibrant culture and folk lore. A few of the buildings remain in the valley, but most were taken down after the Government kicked the families out of the valley during the creation of the park. I know that sounds harsh, but it was the reality of the situation.
The trails and buildings are marked with the names of the people and families that called this valley home. Probably the most memorable name to my son was “Boogerman” trail.
Part of the folk lore is that you could take a frying pan to the river, dip it in, and pull it out with specks (brook trout). I tried my luck with fishing and caught one small speck, but quickly joined my son exploring the stream
Throughout the afternoon, the sound of falling water would be interrupted by elk bugling. It was a surreal experience as one who grew up in the Southeast. Majestic bulls were chasing cow elk through the fields.
So if you are looking for a pretty place to drive this fall, take a trip to the Cataloochee Valley this fall. Camping sites in the valley fill up way in advance, but the road through is worth the trip.