Rebecca McCall, Franklin, NC
We have ridden at Cataloochee twice in the last 10 days. You can camp (when it’s open) in the Cataloochee Valley at the primitive horse camp. This camp is right near the fields where the Elk come out first thing in the morning and in the evening to graze and sometimes come through the horse camp. The road going into Cataloochee is extremely narrow and very windy with little place to pass. You can get in with a fairly good sized LQ trailer, but hope no one with a trailer is coming from the opposite direction. The trails from the valley are very rocky and can be steep so your horses have to be in shape! We cheated because we parked at a friend’s house and rode on gravel road to the Catalooche Divide trail which runs along the ridge of the mountain. The land on one side of the trail is owned by the park and the other side is owned by private property owners. There are amazing views from the ridge and you can ride a long for miles. There is a hitching post at the meadow belonging to the lodge/restaurant the Swag. They have chairs, a lookout, a hammock and picnic tables that you can use. We usually have our lunch there. If you ride a little further you will come to Hemphill Bald. There is another picnic table made of stone with a map imbedded in the stone showing you the different mountain peeks you see. From there you can ride on the Catalooche Ranch property and you may see the cows that roam that pasture. It’s a good ride with lots of views!