Caldwell Fork Trail

 3 votes
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6.4 Miles 10.3 Kilometers


1,464' 446 m


-65' -20 m


4,032' 1,229 m


2,633' 802 m



Avg Grade (3°)


Max Grade (10°)

Minor Issues

47 days agoUpdate

A pedestrian/horse trail along a scenic stream. Lots of good loop options off of this trail.

Max Willner


The Great Smoky Mountain National Park closes secondary roads on a seasonal schedule due to snow. Schedules can be found here.

All campsites must be registered with the park. Backcountry rules and regulations can be found here.
Features: Birding — Fall Colors — River/Creek — Spring — Wildflowers
Dogs: No Dogs


Starting at the Caldwell Fork Trailhead, Caldwell Fork Trail heads south and curves west, where it ultimately connects with Rough Fork Trail. The Boogerman Trail split from the Caldwell Fork Trail just under a mile in and reconnects about 4 miles further south. This trail is also a horse trail, so hikers wishing to avoid potentially deep mud can take the Boogerman Trail for a portion of the hike.

The trail mostly follows the creek and is heavily forested, so it's a great opportunity to watch some of the local wildlife. Hiking southbound from the ranger station, the incline is moderate over 5.6 miles.

After passing the Boogerman Trail junction, the trail eventually leads to another junction, connecting the Big Fork Ridge Trail and the McKee Branch Trail. Further south, Hemphill Bald Trail splits off of the trail. If hikers continue along Caldwell Fork Trail, they will come upon the Caldwell Fork Campsite (#41). The trail eventually leads to Rough Fork Trail.

This is a great trail for the number of diverse options it offers. Backpackers have the option of multi-day loops from the Cataloochee Ranger Station, and there are a variety of loop options that are great to explore in a single day outing.

Flora & Fauna

The Smokies are home to more than 1,600 species of plants, most of which produce an abundance of flowers in the spring. These species include mountain laurel, rhododendron, azalea, and many others. Spring wildflowers peak from early April through late May. To learn more about the plants of the Smokies and even get a trees and shrubs checklist, visit the park's website.

As for local fauna, black bears are common in the area, along with white-tailed deer and 31 species of salamanders. Birdwatchers can spot a variety of species, notably the northern flicker (Colaptes auratus) and red-eyed vireo (Vireo olivaceus). For more information on black bears, refer to this webpage.


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3.3 from 3 votes

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Apr 23, 2016
Dave Emery
**As of 4/24/16 there are at least 4 foot bridges out on the trail. Knee deep creek crossings required on all. 6.4mi
Apr 9, 2016
Dave Emery
Took Caldwell from 41 to Rough Fork. 1.7mi

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Trail Ratings

  3.3 from 3 votes


in Cataloochee


  3.3 from 3 votes
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402 Since Sep 4, 2015
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Minor Issues 47 days ago
Muddy - Be prepared to ford across the creek 4-5 times as bridges were gone. We took our shoes off and waided across - suggest using a stick for st...
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