Boogerman Loop Hike – Great Smoky Mountains

footbridgeTO THE TRAILHEAD:  From the Cataloochee side of the park, drive past the Cataloochee Campground about 500 feet.  The small parking area is easy to miss, so be on the lookout.

THE HIKE:  The Boogerman Loop has some of the neatest and unique hiking in the park with the coolest name for any trail around.  This 7.4 mile round-trip moderate hike is a great option for just about anyone. It is not a very difficult hike, and being a loop hike, you get the chance to see something different going up and coming down. This is also generally a more quiet section of the park, so you don’t contend with as many people. However, in this section of the park, this is one of the most popular hikes, so the trail can sometimes be busy. Part of that is that it is very close to the Catalochee Campground.

You will undoubtedly notice that the roads in the area are not in the best shape, many are uneven and gravel like some of the roads that split from Cades Cove Loop. This is mostly due to the fact that this section is more remote than many other areas of the park, but this is also what makes it so cool. Do be aware that weather, including flooding, can happen here fairly frequently, so if you are driving a long way for this hike, be sure to check the park service website or call a ranger station and be sure the roads and trail is open.

This hike has only about a 1000 feet of elevation change, so that helps to keep it from being too difficult. It is also one of the reasons that a good portion of this trail is shared with horses, so you might see horses here from time to time or at least what they leave behind, so watch your step. This trail has some great old growth forest.  There are also remnants of old buildings, houses, and remaining rock walls and fences along the trail. These are a great reminder of the old days and how people lived.

This hike has some of the best forest scenery in the park and water follows you just about everywhere. Also, there are a lot of water crossings in this trail. In fact, there are 14 of them in all they are mostly over all footbridges. However, some recent storms have damaged some of the footbridges, so that is something that you may have to contend with. It is likely you will be doing some rock hopping, and if a bridge or three is out, it is possible you will have to cross in ankle, calf, or even knee deep water. So again, get information about this from the Smokies website or call a ranger station. Generally, these crossing are really not dangerous. The water is rarely really rushing, so generally you don’t have to worry about falling in or being swept away.  I would bring a pair of Crocs or sandals to wear when I have to cross and then put my boots back on.

We will go left around the loop and head in a clockwise direction.  So as you begin, you will hike .8 mile before you get to your first turnoff to actually begin the loop. This trail is the Boogerman Trail. You will stay on this trail for 3.8 miles until you hike your next trail junction and take a right onto Caldwell Fork Trail. Once you get onto this trail, you will simply follow this until you end up where you started the hike.

 

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