Cataloochee Divide Trail

HARD 16 reviews

Cataloochee Divide Trail is a 13.9 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Waynesville, North Carolina that features beautiful wild flowers and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Horses are also able to use this trail.

13.9 miles
3159 feet
Out & Back



nature trips

trail running


horseback riding



wild flowers

no dogs

Four season trail offers something year round 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

1 month ago

Good Trail... view from Hempill is worth the hike especially if you are familiar with the area or have ever skied Cataloochi!

9 months ago

Quiet. Beautiful woods. Wear waterproof shoes, several bridges are down.

9 months ago

9 months ago

10 months ago

11 months ago

Great ridge line hike. From the road into Cataloochee you can walk as short or far as you like. Defiantly a medium level, not difficult hike. Last October we were rewarded with a family of bear 3, all on the same tree.

11 months ago

Had a 8 mile hike with only a couple of mountain scenery views. Saw a total of 9 hikers during our hike. Would agree it is an easy to moderate trail. Had a blast with my loving girlfriend. No snakes or animals seen during our adventure.

11 months ago

Saturday, April 16, 2016

I did this trail to the Ferguson Cabin loop and back on 4/11. This was about 10.5 miles. The weather was cool and spring had not quite sprung up there yet. Bare trees and only a few wildflowers. Still very pleasant, classic Smokies.
I would rate this trail as easy-to-moderate for the experienced hiker. I think the AllTrails ratings are made for the average "nature walker" who isn't in any sort of shape.
Keep in mind this is a ridge walk and there is NO WATER available until you get to the Ferguson Cabin loop and the McKee branch trail, so plan accordingly.

Monday, April 04, 2016

We hiked this at the end of March 2016. We had intended to hike the Boogerman or a lower-elevation trail with more greenery, but they were washed out. This was a backup trail that we avoided because it sounded more difficult, and I only got out of the hospital a month earlier and now am no longer used to higher elevations after moving to Houston. HOWEVER!

It turned out to be a great, doable hike. People are calling it difficult, but aside from the elevation, there are about as many uphill sections as downhill, which made it quite bearable. We didn't have to deal with water crossings or rocky terrain; the trail was soft with dirt and old leaves. The trees weren't even showing any buds yet, so the views of the mountain range were available on all sides through the empty branches. We went about 2.5 miles out and back from the trailhead (we were concerned about getting down to our campsite in time to setup before nightfall). While out, we heard elk calls but didn't see any on this trail, and we managed to come around the corner on three wild turkeys, who promptly dashed away. I wish we hadn't been talking so loudly when we came upon them, so we could've gotten a better look at them (from a safe distance). There appeared to be mosquitos who swarmed if we stood still too long, but they never bit. Couldn't tell if that was a matter of our very light bug spray application or if they just weren't aggressive.

Anyway, I'd recommend this one to anyone this time of year. I had been hoping for better photographic opportunities, but we still had those big views of the mountain range, and that's pretty hard to argue with.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Friday, August 09, 2013

Moderate to strenuous trail with overgrowth of weeds and trees in some areas. Beautiful hike through forest with hills and valleys. As with all mountain hikes, come prepared with insect spray, water and insect bite antiseptic.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

this trail was a lot of fun on a fall day with all the trees' colors etc. Watch the weather radar beforehand, the views are awesome until a big cloud cover rolls in haha

Sunday, July 31, 2011

This is a great trail but does have a lot of intersecting trails that are not very well marked. Beware of bears and rattlesnakes.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Great place to get some at the ranch