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Historic Barn at Cataloochee Valley in Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Waynesville, NC.

Cataloochee Valley contains some old homes that you can check out and walk through. Most homes were built in the late 1800s. The Caldwell house was built by Hiram Caldwell in 1898 -1903. I can assume the barn was built around the same era.

You've seen the Barn, now here is the house that went with it. This place is way, way, way back in the country. Amazing to me how people lived so far in the woods. It was quite a drive for us with car, including a 11 mile trip down a dirt road that was twisty, turny and up a steep Mountain. This is a early settlers home, now part of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

On Display to showcase how early settler's lived. It's empty inside and in rather sad shape.

But interesting just the same, the house is divided in two with a Breeze way in the middle.


As the road into Cataloochee Valley drops, beginning it’s decent into a beautiful valley adorned in vibrant autumn colors, I am anxious with anticipation of the wonders of nature I will find.


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Located in Cataloochee Valley in North Carolina, this trail ascends through a hemlock forest, which also includes tuliptree, maple, American beech, yellow birch and silverbell. Rhododendruns with displays of pink-white flower clusters are in bloom in May - June. It is a beautiful hike, although we ran out of time to complete it. Maybe on the next trip.

Elk (Cervus Canadensis) taken in the Cataloochee Valley

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Cataloochee Valley


Old Palmer Methodist Church in the background.


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Morning light filtering through the canopy at the Cataloochee Campground in North Carolina.

Early morning in the Cataloochee Valley of western North Carolina. A light layer of fog covered the valley floor making for fantastic light as the sun rose higher. The valley is in the northeast corner of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and a bit off the beaten path for most visitors.


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Autumn in The Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina


A digital art enhancement. HSS


Palmer Chapel Methodist Church, built in 1898 along a stream in Big Cataloochee Valley is a beautiful setting at any time of year, but especially colorful as autumn arrives in the valley. In early 2001 the first elk set foot into Great Smoky Mountains National Park since the turn of the nineteenth century. On this day, with the fall rut winding down, there was less bugling by the bulls than on my previous visit a week earlier, although there were plenty of elk to enjoy viewing. This lone bull grazed in the church yard for about thirty minutes, occasionally looking up to see what I was doing.


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Cataloochee, Great Smoky Mountains national Park, Haywood County, North Carolina

A Bull Elk from Cataloochee Valley National Park

In Cataloochee NC this past weekend

Seen at Cataloochee in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina.

This wild elk was peacefully grazing in the Smoky Mountains. Cataloochee, NC

Another peaceful scene from Cataloochee, North Carolina in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

A herd bull and his cows grazing along the meadow. As autumn color arrives in Cataloochee Valley, visitors are offered an additional aspect to enjoy along with the elk herd and other wildlife of this section of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.


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Clouds obscure the 6000 foot (1828 m) peaks that surround these isolated valleys in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Three narrow parallel valleys comprise the Cataloochee area.

Photographed in a Cataloochee Field, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina.

This is another shot from a recent trip to Cataloochee valley in the Great Smoky Mountains. This is such a beautiful area and even though the storms the week before stripped most of the trees that had changed there were still some nice pops of color along the valley floor. I took so many upclose shots of the elk that I had to remind myself to take some more scenic shots including some of the surrounding landscape. This was probably one of the biggest bull elk we saw while in the valley and he was hanging out all on his own.


On another note I am still without a working computer on the home front so I haven't been able to edit pretty much any of my fall has been driving me crazy lol. But finally I should be up and running again by the end of this weekend.


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This is a multi-shot panorama created in CS5 of the woods surrounding Little Cataloochee Valley. The name "Cataloochie" originated from a Cherokee term, Gedalutsi, meaning "fringe standing erect", referring to the woods that "fringe" the valleys. From indications of this image, very little has changed from the time the Cherokee hunted here... the woods just end abruptly at the grassy fields.


Hit "L" for Lightbox on this image for sure. The final output on this as a TIFF file is 22"x72"... this one's going on canvas.


This is a view of the back entrance to the historic Palmer Barn at Cataloochee in NC. We watched from a distance as an older wild elk chose to take shelter in this barn during the day.

Young bull elk in Cataloochee Valley shorty before sunrise

This is part of the icy mountain stream that runs behind the old schoolhouse at Cataloochee, NC.

Another Smoky Mountain view from the road!

For some of you, elk is not an uncommon sight… but it is here.


There are places in North Carolina named for elk such as Elk Falls and Banner Elk, though elk haven’t existed here for quite a while… they were hunted to extinction in North Carolina around 200 years ago. In February of 2001, 25 elk were released to Cataloochee to see if they could again thrive in North Carolina… the number of the herd now stands at over 140. An interesting note: the original herd of elk came from the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area along the Tennessee-Kentucky border. Apparently, the early mortality rate of elk calves was quite high due to the predation of bears, something the elk were unused to to in their previous location... but the elk have learned to adapt to protect their young.


The elk are free to roam, though the ruggedness of the Cataloochee area has kept them from venturing too far out… that will likely change. As the herd population increases, the elk will compete for space, likely dividing the herd, forcing them to take up residence throughout the state and possibly into eastern Tennessee. Cataloochee consists of three remote narrow valleys in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. They are bordered by three streams that flow into the Pigeon River and are surrounded by the Balsam Mountains. Now a part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cataloochee was once home to a significant Appalachian community and to the Cherokee as a hunting ground.


The best way to reach Cataloochee is from I-40. Coming from the east, take exit 20, bear right and go under the overpass. Take the immediate next right, which is Cove Creek Road. Stay on this road for 11 miles until you reach Cataloochee. The road changes from pavement to dirt along the way and narrows as it follows up a steep ridge… be careful and allow about 45 minutes to cover that 11 miles.


The best times to view the elk are from the 2 hours from sunrise to the 2 hours before sunset. Elk can be aggressive, so view from a distance or from your vehicle. These critters are big and powerful, the antlers huge and menacing, and they can move so much quicker than you.


This was one of the few days that I was in the mountains this year that it rained... and it did a good job. There were so many subjects in Cataloochee to put to the lens that I was nearly as soaked as these elk were. A plastic grocery sack served to protect the camera. I shot this image just as it was beginning to snow... though it was quite cold to be wet, I was out of the car, trying to blend in with nearby trees to get a decent composition with a long lens. I'm happy with this one.


These log bridges made it easier to cross the stream as we hiked the back trails to the historic Woody House of Cataloochee, NC.

Cataloochee Ski Resort, Maggie Valley

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