May 29, 2024

When it comes to the trail names in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, nothing catches your attention quite like the Boogerman Trail Loop! You’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that this moderately difficult 7.4-mile round-trip hike takes you on a journey through a beautiful old-growth forest, picturesque streams, and the remains of several early settler’s homesites! Here are the top 4 things to know about the Boogerman Trail Loop:

1. Origin of the Unusual Trail Name

palmer place cataloochee

The Boogerman Trail Loop got its highly unusual name from early settler Robert Palmer, whose nickname was “Boogerman”. Legend has it that on Palmer's first day of school, the teacher asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. Palmer replied "the Boogerman," and the name would stick with him into adulthood and forever into the history of the Smokies! While exploring the trail, you’ll pass the former Palmer home site at roughly 2.3 miles into the hike.

2. Description of the Forest Surrounding the Hike

Fortunately for modern-day visitors to the Boogerman Loop Trail, Robert Palmer was very protective of his forest! He rejected all buy-out offers from lumber companies to harvest the wood on his property, and the area was spared from the logging operations that dominated much of the Smokies before the land was purchased for the national park. As a result, some of the tallest trees in the area are found along the Boogerman Trail!

3. Accessing the Trail

stream along boogerman trail

The Boogerman Trail Loop is located in the Cataloochee area of Smoky Mountains National Park, which takes you away from the busy Tennessee side of the park. The Cataloochee area is often described as North Carolina’s Cades Cove, as it combines gorgeous scenery with historical sights. While the homesteads are not as preserved as those in Cades Cove, the combination of the homestead remains and the area’s beauty create a pleasant reminder of simpler times.

4. Hiking the Booger Trail Loop

You’ll want to allow about 2 to 3 hours to complete the well-maintained Booger Trail Loop, and you’ll gain approximately 850 feet on your way to 3600 feet at the trail’s highest point! At the 3.8-mile park, the trail turns down to the right alongside Snake Branch, around a rock wall, and across a small stream. This is where you’ll find some clearings, old fence posts, and piles of stone, which indicate where homesites previously existed near the creek. When nearing the 5-mile point, you’ll cross Snake Branch and Caldwell Fork several times via log footbridges. Several hundred yards before crossing Cataloochee Creek at the completion of the loop, you’ll see the remains of a cabin and barn built by Carson Messer.

Now that you know all about the Boogerman Trail Loop, don’t miss the chance to experience this beautiful trail in the Cataloochee area of Smoky Mountains National Park! While you’re in the area, be sure to check out some of the best things to do in the Cataloochee Valley!