Smoky Mountain National Park
As of January first, 2001 the Great Smoky Mountain National
Park has grown by more than 500 acres. Thanks to a generous donation
by the Kathryn McNeil family, the park has gained a prime piece
of property that borders on the Cataloochee Divide Trail. This acquisition
has many nice features that will appeal to hikers of all abilities.
With an elevation of 5086 feet, Purchase Knob stands out in the
profile of mountains in this area. The name of this
pinnacle came from the original owner of this property. After the
Civil War, Colonel Love was deeded a large tract of land that included
this 550 acres. He named it the "Purchase Property". The
name stuck and the current owners, the McNeil's chose that name
for this beautiful donation.
property has a beautiful house that commands a sweeping view that
is as impressive as a Southern Appalachian view can be. It is at
an elevation of 4850 feet and must be very challenging to access
during the winter. Views of the Cumberland Plateau, the Black Mountains,
Pisgah National Forest and of course the Smokies can be had from
the deck. The areas around the house and just below the highpoint
of Purchase Knob also have open areas that allow 180-degree views
that are beyond description.
More recently the previous owners converted the land to for use
as a Christmas tree farm. In keeping with Park Service policy, the
acreage will be returned to as close to it's original state as possible.
That means the hundreds of Christmas trees must go. Last holiday
for a fee of ten dollars, one could cut their own tree. Eventually
the Service will cut all of the planted trees. That will make this
the park's newest bald. That policy has changed this year and visitors
will no longer be allowed to cut the trees on this property.
There isn't any trail here just a moderate climb up a well-graded
dirt road. The road winds past the house to its conclusion just
summit of Purchase Knob. A short and easy "bushwhack"
is required to reach the top. There are obstructed views here but
the walk to the top affords excellent vistas. The round trip distance
for this hike is approximately 2.5 miles. There is also a connector
trail for the Cataloochee Divide Trail. To find the connector, look
for the "No Horse" sign behind the house.
Before you leave, be sure to visit the Ferguson Cabin. You
can see the cabin from the deck of the house. Facing Purchase Knob,
it is to the lower right of the house. John Love Ferguson was a
descendant of the original owner of the property. The cabin, built
in the early 1870's, was inhabited until 1902. Sitting at an elevation
of 4700 feet, it is now the highest cabin in the park. It is fully
restored and in excellent condition. This is a must see!
The access to the property is via Hemphill Road. Purchase Knob
can be seen from Highway 276. Take I-40 West, 24 miles from the
West Asheville Exit turn on Exit 20. Take Rt. 276 south approximately
5 miles and turn right on Hemphill Road. Follow Hemphill Road for
5 miles to a gate and a dirt turn-around. Park here and follow the
dirt road to Purchase Knob. Be sure to call the Park Service before
venturing here for current information. Open by appointment only,
mid-March through November. Audience Served: School groups from
Middle School level and up, teachers, and special groups.
Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center at
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
P.O. Box 357
Lake Junaluska, NC 28745-0357
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