Catalooche trail ride
So, it rained 5 inches on Monday so we decided a better plan would be to leave Tuesday around noon. Got to the Cataloochee horse camp around 5pm and setup camp. It drizzled most of the night.
Wed. we slept in late. Around 10 am a Bull and 2 cows came though the horse camp. Sonny boy was okay with it but Miss Lacy didn't like it very much. With all the rain we figured the steep mountain trail would be slick and muddy so we rode about 10 miles down in the Cataloochee Valley and spent a few hours watching the Elk. The Elk just started the rut and forming herds, bugling, fighting, and well, other unmentionables.:wink:
Thursday, we rode 17 miles, north out of the horse camp up Pretty Hollow Gap trail to the crest of Mt. Sterling at 5600 feet and had lunch. This trail is very rocky, quite steep, and with all the rain just plain slick. While not high by west coast standards I don't know of many trails east of the Mississippi River that go this high. Quite a challenging ride and I don't think we ever asked this much effort from Sonny and Lacy. We then rode north east along the ridge on the Sterling Mountain trail still quite rocky and with all the rain, mud bogs.... and then south down the little Cataloochee trail. We had a couple of blow downs to maneuver around but the this trail was a bit easier all in all....not near as many rocks.
First picture, Miss Lacy's ears as she watches a Bull Elk Bugle.
Second Picture, the Elk in the horse Camp.
Third Picture, Trail head sign on Mt. Sterling.
Fourth Picture, Miss Lacy and Sonny Boy grazing at the intersection of Pretty Hollow Gap Trail and Mt. Sterling Trail, 5600 feet.
Fifth Picture, Sonny Boy and Lacy having a late lunch.
Hope to go back to the Great Smoky Mountains again soon.
Wow! Where is this?
Cataloochee is roughly 4 miles north of Maggie Valley NC, and maybe 10 miles NW of Wayneville NC. We came east on 40 out of Knoxville to exit 20 in NC....make the very first right turn and keep straight for about 10 miles.
Cataloochee was the "unused part" of the Great Smokey Mountains until around 2001 when a herd of 25 Elk were released there. Not sure how many Elk there are today but a couple of years ago I was told there were 150+.
Also saw many large flocks of Wild Turkey and Whitetail deer. Owls hooted all night.
Gunslinger, it sounds like a LOT of fun...minus the slippery! You're ALMOST in my area...not quite...but close!
It's sounds like it was a wonderful adventure!!
Hey gunslinger. I have ridden into Catalooche many times. I don't know if they do this any more - but you use to have to make reservations and identify where you were going if you went in for a several day ride. It is indeed beautiful...and rainy, and cold.:) For whatever reason, the trees bother me now..they didn't use to. I am going to the area soon to lay flowers on my buckskin's grave....I hope I can handle the trees. Its odd, I use to find them so beautiful!
oh i love cataloochee! we have a trip planned for end of October. the first time i went i didn't sleep at night because you could all the wolves and mountain lions talking back and forth. not to mention the bear that cruise by every night. i was worried about our horses but they Acted like they never saw or heard anything. its a beautiful place and so well worth it. i also managed to get my poor mare caught up in a bees nest and stung about 30 times but she handled it like a trooper.
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also never let your horse graze on these trails. there are massive amounts of highly toxic plants.
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This was really a pretty hassle free trip considering. The Rangers were more than nice and very accommodating, a really good feeling with all the controversy surrounding horses in the park.
I'd love to do more rides up that way but I'm not sure how much longer my wife can make this type of rough, challenging long rides.
By the way, I rode my mare barefooted with Renegade hoof boots on her fronts.....this was my third trip with the Renegades after riding Easyboots for the last couple of years.
I'm really liking the Renegades.
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