“A moderate climb and descent past a number of historic buildings.”
— Ken Wise
Fall Colors · River/Creek · Spring
An early portion of this trail frequently runs through Davidson Branch and negotiates several seepages. This uneven terrain may not be optimum for running. Otherwise the steady climb to descent, followed by rolling elevation would definitely be a good workout.
The Little Cataloochee Trail begins at a unassuming junction with the Pretty Hollow Gap Trail
about a mile above the Cataloochee Road. The trail quickly starts into a climb; within 525 yards, it crosses the Little Davidson Branch and narrows to a singletrack.
Three hundred yards farther, the trail enters a stream-side course along Davidson Branch, following it into a deep shaded glen. From here, the route is frequently in Davidson Branch or negotiating seepages seeking the main stream. About a mile above the trailhead, an access path exits on the left and leads 665 yards to a cemetery of a single grave.
A hundred yards above the cemetery access, the trail enters a sharp turn to cross Davidson Creek, and then begins moving out of the glen. On the left, a conspicuous path leads a few feet to the ruins of an old log out-building.
When it leaves the homesite, the trail immediately enters into a steep climb that doesn’t end until reaching Davidson Gap. Noticeable on the left is a stone wall running parallel to the trail. On leaving Davidson Gap, the trail descends steeply along a newly constructed surface and shortly rounds a second wall.
Within a half-mile, the trail completes its descent and approaches the Daniel Cook Cabin. From the cabin, the trail widens to a road and begins an easy grade. It passes through stands of rhododendron and into open fields being reclaimed by second-growth forests. Old chestnut fence posts line the fields on both sides. Pieces of household effects, old washtubs and buckets, and stone retaining walls dot the landscape.
Less than a half-mile beyond the cabin, the trail reaches the Little Cataloochee Missionary Baptist Church standing prominently on a knoll of bare ground. When it leaves the church, the trail descends about a half-mile to Ola, a bottomland. On the left in the flat of the bottomland, the trail approaches a spring lined with a rock wall.
At the lower end of Ola, the trail crosses Little Cataloochee Creek on a bridge and begins climbing out of the bottomland. A quarter-mile beyond the stream crossing, a road exits on the left seventy-five yards to the Jim Hannah Cabin.
After passing the access to the cabin, the trail reaches a gravel road that circles around the mountain 260 yards to intersect with the Long Bunk Trail
exiting to the left. The Little Cataloochee Trail continues along the gravel track for another mile before rising to terminate at an intersection with a larger gravel road.
This content was contributed by author Ken Wise. For a comprehensive hiking guide to the Great Smoky Mountains and to see more by Ken, click here
Flora & Fauna
Along the Davidson Branch, the trail follows into a deep, deep glen of red and sugar maples, yellow poplars, American beeches, yellow birches, and Carolina silverbells shade a dense understory of rhododendron.