Western North Carolina is the ideal place if you enjoy hiking and exploring the great outdoors. Hiking is one of the best ways to fully appreciate the beauty of our area and it is great exercise! There are trails all of the Great Smokey Mountains to explore…I’ll just be scratching the surface of some of the best and most popular.
Cataloochee Valley has several enjoyable trails to hike. The most popular are The Boogerman Trail and The Little Cataloochee Trail. The Boogerman Trail is a seven-mile loop, this moderate hike takes in groves of old-growth forest and is the home place of Robert “Booger” Palmer. The Little Cataloochee Trail follows an old road past old cabins and a church. This trail is 6.1 miles long and considered moderate hiking conditions.
Cataloochee is a great place to bring the whole family. Families from all over come here to see the Elk and explore the historical landmarks. Don’t forget your picnic lunch!
Directions: Take I-40 West to Exit 20 onto 276. Follow 276 for 1/4 of a mile, and turn right onto Cove Creek Road (NC 284). Travel 5.8 miles on this narrow, steep, winding, mostly gravel road to the entrance of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Go slow and be careful! Continue another 1.7 miles to a paved road and turn left. Follow road another 3.5 miles until you see several old buildings and a meadow on each side of the road.
Max Patch Mountain is part of the famous Appalachian National Scenic Trail (or A.T.), located near Hot Springs. In the 1800’s, this 4,600-foot mountain was cleared and used as pasture. Today, it’s a 350-acre tract of open land on a high knob with 360-degree views. Just below the knob, you will also find the Max Patch Pond. This stocked pond is the perfect place to sit back, relax, and fish.
Two easy loop trails lead you to, and around, the summit. The 1.4-mile short loop crosses the summit. The 2.4-mile loop circles the mountain for outstanding views from all the sides. From the parking lot, follow the marked trail to the left. You will ascend through a forest and then reach the top for some incredible views. The rest of the hike is on the grassy bald. You can also hike north or south on the Appalachian Trail for as far as you want.
Directions: (4WD recommended for this route): Take I-40 West to exit 7 (Harmon’s Den). Take a right on Cold Springs Road, and the road almost immediately becomes gravel. This usually well-graded road climbs steadily, but never steeply 6.2 miles to SR-1182 (Max Patch Rd). 4WD recommended in winter and wet weather. Turn left and drive 1.5 miles to the Max Patch parking area on the right. Allow an hour to drive.
Graveyard Fields is a very popular hiking spot on the Blue Ridge Parkway (Milepost 418.8). The Yellowstone Prong is the water source for two waterfalls in a mile-high valley filled with wildflowers and surrounded by Blue Ridge mountains with 6,000-foot peaks. How did the area get its name? Years ago the name derived from the tree stumps and surrounding trees that looked like grave stones in a graveyard setting. Several hundred years ago, the trees were toppled by a massive wind. Then in 1925, an intense fire burned the recently logged area, and the forest has been slow in recovering since.
Graveyard Fields Loop is a stunning four mile hiking trail. You will be starting from the overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway. A map is located on the sign at the parking area. Take the trail at the lower end (right side looking away from Parkway) of the parking area. This descends down a paved path through a thick patch of rhododendron, down some steps and to a bridge. Cross the bridge, turn right along the trail until you come to the first trail intersection to the right, and descend a long flight of steps to viewing platform for Lower (or Second) Falls. You can get a closer look from the boulders at the base of the falls. You can even slide down part of the waterfall!
Directions: Take the Blue Ridge Parkway south to Milepost 418.8.
75 Best Trails and Waterfalls Near Buffalo Creek Vacations
There are so many excellent hiking options near Buffalo Creek Vacations. And the waterfalls! We have some of the most magnificent waterfalls in our area, that are a must to check out during your visit.
Check out the complete list of the 75 Best Trails and Waterfalls near Buffalo Creek Vacations!