We are heading to Cataloochee, a remote cove in the eastern corner of the Great Smoky Mountains NP, for the weekend. Ideal hiking conditions, highs forecast for upper 40s, lows in the upper 20s. If you haven't been there before, there's really no easy way in. The National Park Service began building a modern road in the 1960s but pressure from environmentalists led them to cancel the project after completing the section in the cove itself. Today, the only access from the North Carolina side is a very, very steep gravel road with steep dropoffs and no guard rails. It's a difficult drive, but the reward is that Cataloochee remains uncrowded, as most park visitors head to areas with good roads. If you don't know Cataloochee, it's a Cades Cove in miniature, with a number of historic structures including two churches, a school, houses and cemeteries. Charming is an understatement. Cataloochee Cove is also home to the largest elk herd in the park. Once extirpated from the area, they were reintroduced a decade ago and are thriving. The park campground in the cove is small (26 sites) and quiet. Camping by reservation only, which we don't like, but I suppose it helps discourage people from making the trip up and down the mountain only to find there's no space on a weekend. There are no hookups--no problem, we don't need them. Here's our campsite there last March. Right behind our campsite was Cataloochee Creek, one of a number of beautiful streams in the area, and home to our native brook trout. We're hoping to catch the end of fall color this weekend, if not in the park, on the Cumberland Plateau as we approach. Can't wait to be there. This is the beginning of our favorite camping season.