I’ve led it so many times and I’ve written it up in my two hiking guides Hiking the Carolina Mountains and Hiking North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Plenty new, it turns out.
The hike was our kickoff for the 2016 Classic Hikes series. This year, the program is offering over 100 miles of trail for the National Park Service Centennial. We had a huge group of hikers, many first timers with FOTS and some who’ve never hiked in the national park before. The Little Cataloochee hike was their introduction to the most visited park in the country. Wow! On my hike.
We split the group in two. I led one group and Anna Lee Z., who works for FOTS, led the other on the way out to the Cook Cabin. Steve Woody, a founding board member of FOTS and a descendant of the people who lived in Cataloochee, was on the hike.
We took side trips to the Hannah Cemetery and the Hannah Cabin. Hikers were surprised to see modern graves in the Cemetery. Wasn’t the park founded in 1934? Yes, but if you can show you are a descendant of a park resident and there’s room in the cemetery, you can be buried in the park. From the looks of it, there’s still plenty of room in Hannah Cemetery.
The highlight is always the Cataloochee Baptist Church. Hikers went into the church and rang the bell and walked around this cemetery as well. The turn-around point was the Cook Cabin where the whole group had lunch.
Steve Woody took us up a social trail behind the Cook Cabin and down to a long, rock wall. These fences/walls kept the cattle out of people’s gardens. If you walk on the Boogerman Trail, you pass them on the trail itself but here we had to know where to find them.
On the way back, Anna Lee and I switched groups. So I got to show off the Hannah Cabin and Cemetery all over again to a new group of hikers. Lots of good questions from each group.
Why did people settle in Little Cataloochee?
And who did they buy the land from?
The next FOTS hike will be on April 12 to Porters Creek. If today’s hike was any indication, it’s going to be well-attended and may be sold out. So how do you sign up? Go to hike.friendsofthesmokies.org or contact Anna Lee (of course).