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The Boogerman Trail

Cataloochee Area

LENGTH: 3.8 miles (7.4 R.T.)
Novice to intermediate
PROS: Old Growth Hemlocks, Creek Views, Wildflowers, Robert "Booger" Palmer's Home place
CONS: Crowds, Road closed in Winter, rocky, wet, trail
WATER: Plenty    
Stone Walls, framework of old buildings, remnants of split rail fences.   Best in the Spring and Fall (Wildflowers)

Booger Palmer

There are few day hikes in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park that are also loop hikes. Not only is the Boogerman Trail a loop, it epitomizes the essence of the Smokies.  

What is the essence of the Smokies? Pioneer history, old growth forests, free flowing creeks and wildflowers. Prior to the formation of the park in the 1930's, there were over 90 settlements in the 550,000 acres that comprise the park. The park service burned or demolished all but a few of these settlements. The remains of Robert "Booger" Palmer's homestead is still recognizable on the Boogerman Trail. Booger Palmer liked his trees and didn't cut many of the old growth on his property. Add to that a carpet of wildflowers and you have the elements of a great hike.

This hike begins near the Cataloochee campground. Drive past the campground about 500 feet and park in the next to the footbridge. This is an unofficial parking area and fills up quickly on the weekends. You may have to park on the road. 

 Traverse the  footbridge that crosses Palmer Creek to begin.  This section of the hike follows Caldwell Fork Trail and is in a lush rhododendron filled valley.  The underbrush is like a rain forest with "Dog hobble" lining the trail. Dog hobble, a familiar plant in the Smokies, received it's slang name from bear hunters. It is said that the dense vines of this plant would stop hunting dogs from pursuing their prey.  There are 14 other footbridge crossings on this hike. The Park Service has maintained all of these bridges and the crossings are all safe. This section of the Caldwell Fork Trail  is also approved for horses. Please note that when conditions are wet, there are frequent muddy spots that require circumnavigation. 

After hiking for 8 tenths of a mile, through a beautiful Hemlock and rhododendron forest, you reach the sign for Boogerman Trail. To avoid a relentless and steep climb, we recommend that you continue further up Caldwell Fork Trail and take the upper loop of Boogerman Trail. 

The trail winds along Caldwell Fork, twisting and turning over numerous footbridges. The sound of rushing water fills the air and the creek views are "typically Smokies". Although there is frequent horse traffic, that is a small price to pay to view this extremely beautiful creek. Caldwell Fork Trail never leaves sight of the creek. After passing the first sign for the Boogerman Trail the bridge crossings become more frequent. The creek scenes are so beautiful that it is almost surreal. Up until recently the bridges were in a state of disrepair and many were unsafe. Thanks to the diligence of the Park Service, the bridges have been repaired and are all in good shape. The frequent crossings of the bridges are nice because it gives a close up look at one of the more picturesque creeks in the Smokies. During the month of June, the blooming and fragrant Rhododendrons that line the creek put on quite a show.


Boogerman Trail Information | Continue the hike>>

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