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Rough Fork Trail is a 12.3 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Maggie Valley, North Carolina that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Horses are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 12.3 miles Elevation Gain: 2,293 feet Route Type: Out & Back


horseback riding

nature trips


bird watching




wild flowers

no dogs

This trail is described in Allan DeHarts North Carolina Hiking Trails. The trail is very easy, and the old Woody House is a must-see. Take time to visit the old School House, and Palmer Chapel while you're in the valley. Wildlife in the valley consist of Bear, Deer, Elk, and Wild Boar. In early spring close deer sightings are common. Do not attempt to approach the Boar or Elk. Bear are seldom seen, they remain on the remote high ridges of the valley.

horseback riding
10 months ago

I love the rough fork trail as I do all the trails in Cataloochee. People with dogs need to read the rules because they are not allowed anywhere in the Smokies except in camp and then not unattended. I also ride horses and I love sharing the trail. There is much we could complain about between hikers, bikers and horse folk. But life is short! Lets get along and share these beautiful trails! Lobby the powers that be to be inclusive of dogs. I think it's a stupid rule too but it isn't in place due to dog crap. Have you ever seen a plie of bear scat? The top portion of Rough fork near to Polls gap is littered with it! I believe the reasoning for the rule may be due to the Smokies being half wilderness and half national park. I don't know but don't blame horses because you can't take a dog. And be on the look out for bear scat. Who is to clean up behind them or the elk, or swine or any other crapping creature out there. I do take exception to the ugly wads of TP I see along sides of the trail or behind trees that people have left. If you don't have a shovel and can't use a stick to bury it, TAKE IT WITH YOU IN A ZIPLOC. Nobody wants to look at that! Otherwise, live and let live for crying out loud! For those riding horses, this trail gets narrow, ledgy and VERY soft on the way up. 2 years ago a horse and rider fell off the mountain trying to jump a downed tree. Not very smart but even so caution should be used and watch that your horse is as far from the edge as possible. If meeting hikers, stop and have them pass you. There is a long nice flat portion just before you get to Polls gap. Very nice and lots of laurel. I've never seen a trail with so much bear scat either. Even so we didn't see any bears when we rode it. Happy Trails all. Be safe and be kind!

Sun Mar 17 2019

what I don't understand is the fact that horses are able to be on the trails but not dogs. if it's the fecal matter, horses have bigger turds than dogs. also I've been kicked in the face by a horse and stepped on, haven't had that happen with a dog. funny how this Earth is here for us and stupid rules are applied to those that should be able to enjoy it. I say horse riders should pick up their horse crap and carry it out just like I would with a dog!

Sun Dec 31 2017

Today was our second time on this trail, both times with our own and friends’ littles. Last year we hiked it with our 5 year old as well as 4, 6 and 9 year old. Today we hiked with our little who is 6, another 6 year old, and a 4 year old. We hiked about 4 miles out and back, past the Woody House. It looks like the house was being painted this year, as it was cleaned up from last year. The kids love the trail as it follows the water line and over log bridges, providing lots of magical places to explore and play. We tend to hike more moderate and difficult trails with our daughter, as her favorite part is climbing and scrabbling, but this trail provides enough fun to keep her engaged despite its ease. We’ll be back again!

Fri Oct 13 2017

We just hiked Rough Fork and it was lovely. Be sure to visit the historic homes and buildings in the area near the trail head.

Sun Sep 03 2017

Great Trail. Loved the Woody house.

Sun Aug 27 2017

This is a great trail but is mis-tagged for mountain biking - please remove that tag. There is a sign at the trailhead saying no bikes. I went there specifically for that and ended up doing a run - nice trail.

Fri Sep 09 2016

This trail is not dog friendly- there is a sign at the trailhead showing that dogs are not allowed. I spoke with a park volunteer who said that dogs are not allowed on any of the trails within this park.

Tue Jun 23 2015

My husband, son and I enjoyed this little walk! Points of interest were the stream that the trail stays near, the log bridges, and the Woody House with spring house. Didn't have a lot of time today, so this was perfect! Took us about an hour and a half.

Thu Apr 23 2015

After its first mile up to Campsite 40, the Rough Fork begins a brisk ascent to the Caldwell Fork Trail (2.9) and then onward to Polls Gap (6.5). Although in better shape than most of the other trails in South Catalooch, it still has its share of loose rocks, protruding roots, and erosion caused by weather and horse travel. Since it's a ridge trail, there are no major stream crossings to navigate - bring plenty of water! The rewards for the relentless elevation gain are nice views to the west, while continuing up to the Cataloochie Divide. I actually came down the Rough Fork by making a loop with the Big Fork Ridge Trail, linking up to the Hemphill Bald Trail, and then descending down the Divide. Didn't see a soul during the whole 19.5 mile trek - pretty sweet!

2 months ago

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7 months ago

recorded Rough Fork Trail

8 months ago

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Sat Dec 29 2018

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Mon Jun 25 2012