“A gentle climb and descent to the Caldwell Fork Trail. This is a horse and hiking trail.
— Todd Baker
Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife
There is a place to park across Rough Fork Road from the Big Fork Ridge Trail
. Drive past Cataloochee Campground to the end of Cataloochee Road, and continue about 3/4 mile on Rough Fork Road and the parking for two or three vehicles is on your right. If you're lucky you'll see turkeys and elk on the way through the valley to the trailhead.
At the trailhead you cross Rough Fork on a foot log bridge, and once on the trail you'll pass through an abandoned pasture, and then enter the forest. The trail soon starts its ascent. This initial section has wooden timbers placed across the trail to help with erosion from the rain and horse use. The trail continues up to the top of Big Fork Ridge which is about 2 miles from the trailhead. Along the way, you hear the sound of the Rough Fork, pass by maples, hemlocks, pines, rhododendrons and mountain laurel.
The next mile is a steady descent to Caldwell Fork. You'll hear a waterfall below at a rock face on the trail. The thickness of the forest and the steep slope off trail side will prevent you from exploring. There is a long foot log bridge at Caldwell Fork, but Caldwell Fork can be shallow and is easy to cross. Less than a 1/4 mile from Caldwell Fork, the Big Fork Ridge Trail
ends at its junction with Caldwell Fork Trail