The Rough Fork Trail is one of several excellent (and long) trails found in Cataloochee Valley and it is the trail used to visit the most-easily missed of the preserved structures in the valley, the Woody Place. There are a number of easily-found and well-known structures along the main road plus there are a number over in Little Cataloochee Valley.
The Woody Place sits by itself about 1.1 miles down Rough Fork Trail. The trailhead is literally at the end of the road. As you enter the valley, you’ll pass through the first of the meadows, pass by Palmer Chapel and Beech Grove School. Then you will find more meadows and pass by the Caldwell House and barn. Continue to the end of the last meadow and the end of the road. There you will be postings for Rough Fork Trail and the Woody Place.
The trail is actually a continuation of what used to be the main road through the valley so the trail is wide and flat with almost no slope as it follows alongside Rough Fork. Log footbridges are used to make 3 crossings of Rough Fork on the way to the house. After making the 3rd crossing, you’re only a couple hundred yards from the house.
Sitting back from the creek with the road between, the house is an imposing structure of size. It seems it had to be large to accommodate the large family. Originally, this was a cabin belonging to Mary Ann Caldwell (another of the valley’s first families). Jonathan Woody married Mary Ann and combined their families for a total of 14 children. Jonathan died in 1894 and his son, Steve, became head of the household and was responsible for the additions in the early 1900s that produced the house you see today.
Architecturally, the house is interesting with its fish scales on the dormers. On the left side of the house there are windows that reach from the dormers through the roof line and down into the wall. Inside, look for storage spaces actually within the walls underneath the window casings.
Be sure and cast a glance to the right of the house about 30 yards. There you will find the spring house with its clear and free-flowing spring.
The walk to the Woody House is an easy walk through beautiful woods alongside Rough Fork. You’ll find the footbridges picturesque and the house photogenic. Take the time for this one.
Directions to Cataloochee Valley: From Asheville, head west on I-40 to exit 20 for US 276. You’ll loop under the highway and quickly encounter Cove Creek Road on the right. At that turn, you are 10.5 miles from the valley. The road winds up into the mountains and makes a sharp right turn where the road becomes gravel. It then becomes more twisty with steep drops on the right. You will continue to climb until you enter Great Smoky Mountains National Park at Cove Creek Gap. Your descent will eventually take you back to a paved road and on into the valley.