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McKee Branch Trail

Intermediate/Difficult

Trail

2.4 mile 3.8 kilometer point to point
Intermediate/Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 2' 1 m
Descent: -1,685' -514 m
High: 4,777' 1,456 m
Low: 3,091' 942 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 13% (8°)
Max Grade: 32% (18°)

Dogs

No Dogs
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Trail shared by Max Willner

A rocky, sometimes muddy trail connecting the Cataloochee Divide to Caldwell Fork Trail.

Max Willner

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Spring · Wildflowers · Wildlife

All campsites must be registered with the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

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

Backcountry rules and regulations can be found here.

Description

The trailhead begins at Purchase Gap along the Cataloochee Divide Trail. It's a rather steep descent towards Caldwell Fork Trail, with many muddy spots (due to horse travel). There's a good deal of erosion on this trail, along with loose rock and thick beds of leaves. Be careful to watch your step!

The trail steeply descends into a thick forest, and in about two miles comes to McKee Branch. This crossing may require a little dexterity, depending on the water levels.

At 2.4 miles, the trail comes to a conclusion at Caldwell Fork Trail.

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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Check-Ins

Sep 1, 2019
Brian Carpenter
so glad I went down it. still technical in parts. 2.4mi
Apr 5, 2019
Jeremy Mason
Very steep, and covered with major blowdowns. Very rough getting down. 2.3mi — 2h 30m
Sep 25, 2018
Chadwick Conner
2.4mi
Sep 23, 2017
Gretchen Pardon
Rocky, steep trail. Rocks can be slippery. 2.3mi

Stewarded By


Trail Ratings

  1.2 from 5 votes

#19

in Cataloochee

#35671

Overall
  1.2 from 5 votes
5 Star
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4 Star
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3 Star
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2 Star
20%
1 Star
80%
Trail Rankings

#19

in Cataloochee

#1,387

in North Carolina

#35,671

Overall
15 Views Last Month
455 Since Sep 4, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult

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Photos

Along McKee Branch at the beginning of the trail.
Oct 9, 2017 near Cove Creek, NC
Along McKee Branch Trail.
Oct 9, 2017 near Cove Creek, NC

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