Sunday, March 12, 2006
Craig and I drove from Maggie Valley to Cataloochie Valley today in hopes of seeing some of the elk that were reintroduced to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We were not disappointed! We saw ten elk grazing in a meadow in the Cataloochie Valley.
We have been told that the elk come out to graze early in the morning or late in the afternoon. It's not surprise that we chose afternoon for our trip up into the mountains.
The trip took about 45 minutes from Maggie Valley to Cataloochie Valley.
This valley is not easy to find or to access, but it is worth the drive. If you are a squeamish or timid driver or passenger, this may not be the trip for you! You leave a four-lane highway for a two-lane paved road, which becomes a lane-and-a-half gravel road (straight up the mountain, btw, lots of switchbacks and high drop-offs), which becomes a one-lane dirt road inside the National Park. You eventually come to a paved road again through much of the Cataloochie Valley, and then back to gravel.
There are several buildings in the Valley built around 1903 for by residents. There are homeplaces, a church, some cemeteries, a schoolhouse, and barns. They are all unoccupied now but you are welcome to explore them. There is a campground and horse trails (we encountered a few horse trailers coming down off the mountain --yikes). There were also some smaller motorhomes parked in the campground. I think I'd prefer a tent.
If you are spending a few days in Maggie Valley, Asheville, or the Smokies, I definitely recommed a trip to Cataloochie Valley to check out the elk.
Posted by Rae at 9:36 PM