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.
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