The Bone Valley Trail is an out-an-back trail which is accessed from the Hazel Creek Trail
. The junction is across from backcountry campsite 83, approximately 6 miles along Hazel Creek Trail
from its inception at the Lakeshore Trail.
The trail is approximately 1.8 miles in length and follows Bone Valley "Branch" or Creek for most of its length, including 4 or 5 creek crossings. You'll want to plan accordingly in advance for these crossings. The wide trail is in good condition and climbs only moderately, making for a pleasant experience.
Bone Valley got its name in the late 1800's, when a herd of cattle took shelter from a blizzard and froze to death; when the snow melted, their carcasses littered the valley and were eventually picked clean by wild animals with the bones remaining for many years.
Hikers will see reminders of the logging trains that once through the valley. At the end of the trail is the Hall cabin, the most-remote remaining structure in the GSMNP. This cove was first settled by Jesse "Crate" and Polly Hall about 1877, building a small cabin around 1880 and another larger cabin around 1892, in part to house their 13 children. The sign notwithstanding, the remaining structure is the later cabin which was moved slightly and renovated by the Park Service. The cabin is open and observant hikers will note that the renovation did not include rebuilding the chimney.
In the woods just to the right of the cabin are the remains of the Kress hunting lodge. The lodge, built by the owner of the department store chain and a Hall descendent, burned down around 1960. All that remains are the foundations and impressive chimney.
To the left of the Hall cabin is the 0.4 mile trail that leads to the Hall Cemetery, the final resting place of 19 Hall family members. As is common with cemeteries of the area, the trail climbs to a small knoll and all graves are pointed to the east, to allow cemetery residents to be "closer to Heaven" and "facing the Resurrection."
Interestingly, it was Crate Hall's brother, Jacob "Fonzie" Hall, that around 1884 would visit Bone Valley and discover copper in nearby Sugar Fork; this discovery would become the Adams-Westfeldt mine.
The Bone Valley Trail provides access to a remote area steeped in history. Including the spur trail to the cemetery, the roundtrip mileage (from and to the Hazel Creek Trail
) is approximately 4.75 miles.
In late spring the valley is an excellent place for wildflower enthusiasts.