Summary: This trail offers something year round, spring wild flowers, summer high elevation for cooler temps, fall foliage and winter views with usually a little snow on the ground. The trail follows the park boundary and begins with a quick accent of ridge hiking. At 1.5 miles look to the right at an opening for views of the Cataloochee Valley. At 4.6 miles is the McKee Branch Trail continues on the CDT. At 5 miles you approach "The Swag" an open area with great views and then a little further is the private resort with the same name. At 6.4 miles the trail ends and intersects with the Hemphill Bald Trail. Now begin the HBT to the bald. You have been climbing for a while but hang in there with a little more than a half mile to go is your reward of a hard hike. The bald provides lunch with a view. If and when you want to head back just return the same way you hiked in. I've included pix from two different winter hikes and will post spring shots later in '08
Trailhead: From I-40, take exit 20 (NC-276) west to Cove Creek Rd. Follow this road north and then west about 3.0 miles Cove Creek Gap. Limited parking on either side of road. (Lat:35.63247 Lon:-83.04477)
Trail Guides for Cataloochee Divide Trail:
Day Hikes in GSMNP
by Johnny Molloy ()
Best Seasons: Year-Round
User Groups: Hikers, Horses,
Ranger Contact: Cataloochee Ranger Station 865-436-1200
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Bobby Trotter, who has posted 74 other hikes on this site
Trail Reviews Submit your own review
Reviewed by BAE on 5/31/2010
Started at Cove Creek Gap section of the trail. Hiked this trail with my lovely wife on May 24, 2010. Saw no other hikers so we had the trail to ourselves. Spooked a bear and it ran away from us like a scared dog. Stopped at the 4.6 mile marker (McKee Branch Trail). The view from the Appalachian Highlands Science Research Center was excellent.
Reviewed by Robert on 8/26/2009
My wife and I did about 11.6 miles (omitting the final climb to "the bald") of this in early August. We liked it, but then I never met a hike I didn't like. It would be a view hike when the trees were bald. In August, very few vistas. Plenty of vertical even without the final push. No water, naturally, on the divide. We did see a mom bear and two cubs from about 50 yards, she was smallish and went away from us and her cubs followed. We saw no people on a Monday. We were told that the resort nearly six miles in had been donated to the park. Hope true because it was a great place for lunch with lovely manicured lawn, flowers, gazebo, huge hammock, and magnificent view to the east. 3 hrs. up,2 1/4 down. Trail starts at park entrance.
Reviewed by Brian on 1/12/2008
I just returned home from hiking this trail today. The views were great with the leaves off the trees and the 7+ hours I spent there I never saw another person. The trail overall goes at a moderate pace with a few short climbs then the big one to reach top of Hemphill Bald, but well worth it.
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Keys: North Carolina Hiking, North Carolina Trails, North Carolina Hikes, Haywood County Hiking, Haywood County Trails, Haywood County Hikes