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Rough Fork Trail

Intermediate
 3.2 (5)

An easy trail with nineteenth-century houses along the way.


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Map Key

6.5

Miles

10.5

KM

86%

Runnable

5,122' 1,561 m

High

2,836' 864 m

Low

2,286' 697 m

Up

0' 0 m

Down

7%

Avg Grade (4°)

23%

Max Grade (13°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Spring · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Great Smoky Mountain National Park closes secondary roads on a seasonal schedule due to snow. Schedules can be found here.

All campsites must be registered with the park. Backcountry rules and regulations can be found here.

Description

From the Rough Fork Trailhead parking area, runners will follow Rough Fork Creek. This is also considered a horse trail, so expect portions of the trail to be muddy.

At around 1.1 miles is the Steve Woody House. It was built around 1880. While originally built of logs, it was eventually replaced with lumber once saw mills gained more of a foothold in the Smokies. Steve Woody and Hiram Caldwell (the namesake for Caldwell Fork Trail) were both residents of the Cataloochee area in the 1870s.

At about 1.5 miles, runners will reach the Big Hemlock Campsite (#40.) The trail begins to get steeper as it ascends towards Caldwell Fork Trail, offering at various times nice views of the Cataloochee Divide. After that junction, the trail climbs a bit more through the thick woods as it eventually comes to a stop at the Polls Gap parking area. From here, runners have access to the Mountains-to-Sea Trail: Segment 1 and the Hemphill Bald Trail.

Flora & Fauna

The Smokies are home to more than 1,600 species of plants, most of which produce an abundance of flowers in the spring. These species include mountain laurel, rhododendron, azalea, and many others. Spring wildflowers peak from early April through late May. To learn more about the plants of the Smokies and even get a trees and shrubs checklist, visit the park's website.

As for local fauna, black bears are common in the area, along with white-tailed deer and 31 species of salamanders. Birdwatchers can spot a variety of species, notably the northern flicker (Colaptes auratus) and red-eyed vireo (Vireo olivaceus). For more information on black bears, refer to this webpage.

Contacts

Shared By:

Max Willner

Trail Ratings

  3.2 from 5 votes

#16

in Cataloochee

#20812

Overall
  3.2 from 5 votes
5 Star
0%
4 Star
40%
3 Star
40%
2 Star
20%
1 Star
0%
Trail Rankings

#16

in Cataloochee

#840

in North Carolina

#20,812

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1,221 Since Sep 4, 2015
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Photos

Mountain View Cataloochie  Great Smokey National Park 6883
Sep 3, 2015 near Cove Creek, NC
Mountain laurel in bloom.
Apr 18, 2016 near Cove Creek, NC
Woody Place on the Rough Fork Trail.
Apr 18, 2016 near Cove Creek, NC
Trail along the Rough Fork.
Apr 18, 2016 near Cove Creek, NC
Hiking in the Cataloochee Valley - GSMNP
Jan 22, 2016 near Cove Creek, NC

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