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Purchase Knob 

Great 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.

New Acquisition

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.



The 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. 

Tree Farm

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 season, 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.


The Hike

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 below the 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!



Gettin' There

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 Purchase Knob
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
P.O. Box 357
Lake Junaluska, NC 28745-0357
(828) 926-6251



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