Cataloochee Valley is my favorite part of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s far from any of the big towns or really popular parts of the park so it’s a good place to get away from the crowds at Cades Cove or Clingman’s Dome. It’s got abandoned buildings that are still in pretty good shape and is also the only part of the park where elk have been reintroduced.
I went out there hiking one day in October a few years ago when I was still living in Gatlinburg. The leaves were beautiful, the elk were out in the meadows, and I had the trails all to myself. Lots of little creeks with tiny waterfall made for a very peaceful experience. I had intended to hike out to a schoolhouse but I got started too late & didn’t want to be out there in the dark so I had to turn back. I also kept meaning to stay at the campground there but never got around to it. Hopefully I’ll make it back there someday & do those things.