Great Smoky Mountains National Park | CATALOOCHEE HISTORICAL AREA

Cataloochee Historical Area Map(click to enlarge)

Cataloochee Historical Area Map(click to enlarge)

See the Cataloochee Region web page for an interactive location map.

The Cataloochee Historical Area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park consists of what was once two different communities, Big Cataloochee and Little Cataloochee. The two were located in valleys separated by Noland Mountain. Though the Cherokee Indians had been around for hundreds of years, it was not until the early 1800s that white settlers moved into the area. The land was originally purchased by a post-American Revolution land speculator named Colonel Robert Love, and he opened it up to settlement, with the first family, the Caldwells, arriving in 1814. The original community was made up of just a handful of families—the Caldwells, Hannahs, Bennetts, Nolands, Palmers, Franklins, Messers, and Woodys—all of which settled in the Big Cataloochee area. Little Cataloochee was settled later by the grown children of the original settlers, for land at Big Cataloochee was all spoken for and they needed a place where they could start their own families and farms.

A number of historical buildings remain and are open to the public, though none are furnished. The buildings in the Big Cataloochee area can be reached by vehicle or short walks from a parking area, while those in the Little Cataloochee area can only be reached by hiking the 6-mile, one-way Little Cataloochee Trail. I love historical buildings, but since I had no option for a ride at the end, the hike would have been twelve miles for me, and no old building is worth that much walking. Thus, I, like most visitors to the park, opted to see what I could from the road.

A brochure that gives the history of the buildings can be purchased at a roadside kiosk. The cost is a buck and payment is made on the honor system.


Palmer House

Will Messer Barn

Palmer Chapel

Palmer Chapel Cemetery

Caldwell House

Caldwell Cemetery

Beech Grove School

Woody House (reached via a 1-mile walk on the Rough Fork Trail, which begins at the end of the dirt road leading to the Caldwell House)


The northern trailhead for the Little Cataloochee Trail is located seven miles north of the turn off for the Cataloochee Campground from the main dirt road that runs between Cataloochee and Big Creek. The southern trailhead is reached by hiking .8 mile on the Pretty Hollow Gap Trail to the intersection with the Little Cataloochee Trail. The Pretty Hollow Gap Trail begins near the Palmer Chapel.

Cook Cabin and Messer Farm

Little Cataloochee Baptist Church

Hannah Cabin

Back to the Top

With a few exceptions, use of any photograph on the National Park Planner website requires a paid Royalty Free Editorial Use License or Commercial Use License. See the Photo Usage page for details.
Last updated on February 12, 2021
Share this article