A lot of folks come to Cataloochee Valley to see the elk and never get a feel for the historic significance of the area. Actually, what is usually referred to as Cataloochee Valley is, in fact, Big Cataloochee Valley. Little Cataloochee Valley is about 2.5 miles away across the Davidson Gap.
Here is a listing of the historical structures and cemeteries remaining in both of the valleys. In the slide show, you will find satellite views of the areas showing the location of each of the sites.
- Palmer House. Also the information center for the valley. In addition to the historic house, you will find photos and even a video of the history of the valley. To truly understand the historical significance of what you visit, plan to spend some time in the information center.
- Palmer Barn. A huge wooden structure close to the Palmer House.
- Palmer Bunkhouse. Across the road from the barn, built by Jarvis Palmer to house paying customers who fished on his property.
- Palmer Family Cemetery. Trailhead can be found at the far end of the barn. A steep climb.
- Messer Barn. Relocated from original site to the field next to the Ranger Station.
- Palmer Chapel. This was a Methodist congregation. Note the chapel sits with its back to the main road. That is because the original road in the valley ran in front of the church, between the steps and the stream.
- Palmer Chapel Cemetery. Across the road from the Chapel. Also a steep climb.
- Beech Grove School. It would have been hard to study while listening to the waters of Palmer Creek just feet away from the windows.
- Caldwell Cemetery. Path crosses the field then a steep climb.
- Caldwell Barn. A good place to view the elk.
- Caldwell House.
- Woody House. About a mile along Rough Fork Trail. Trailhead is at the very end of the gravel at the far end of the final field.
Little Cataloochee. Accessed via the Little Cataloochee Trail with the trailhead being on NC 284 about 6 miles from the Palmer House.
- Hannah Family Cemetery. Following the trail 1.1 miles to the Long Bunk Trail. Take Long Bunk for 0.2 miles.
- Hannah Cabin. Back on Little Cataloochee Trail about a quarter mile past Long Bunk Trail.
- Little Cataloochee Baptist Church. About 2 miles from the trailhead. Be sure and ring the bell.
- Little Cataloochee Baptist Church Cemetery.
- Cook Cabin. The final structure on the trail at the 2.8 mile mark.
There is much to do, see, and learn about Cataloochee. Expect to make more than one trip since each visit will expose another element of Cataloochee that needs to be investigated.
As noted, start your trip at in the information center at the Palmer House. To get there, take I-40 west from Asheville to exit 20 (US 276). Loop under the highway and take the first right, Cove Creek Road. Follow the road for 10 miles to Big Cataloochee Valley. Be mindful this road is twisty and narrow with about half being unpaved..