Purchase Knob, Great Smoky Mountains

Purchase Knob is a mountain located along the Cataloochee Divide, the serves as the border between Cataloochee Valley in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Maggie Valley and Waynesville areas of North Carolina.  

The hike to Purchase Knob is along the Cataloochee Divide Trail (see update below for close of the Hemphill Rd Trailhead closure).  Purchase Knob features high elevation views, historic buildings, and access to a number of other fantastic trails and view.

Purchase Knob, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Purchase Knob

6/17/2021 UPDATE - Trailhead Closure

Purchase Knob is no longer accessible to the public along the trail we previously covered in this guide.  The trailhead to Purchase Knob at the top of Hemphill road is now closed to all car traffic.  

The National Park closed the trail, due to traffic and safety concerns and in order to return the area to its original mission as a science center and to preserve the area.   The National Park Service has put up "no parking/tow away" signs all along the road to the gate.   

We would respectfully ask our followers and visitors to respect this new closure and restriction.   We would encourage you to hike on the many other trails available in the area.  You can still hike to purchase knob, by using the Cataloochee Divide Trail.

The following sections highlight some of the things to see if you hike into Purchase Knob via Cataloochee Divide Trail.

Ferguson Cabin

There is a sign pointing to Ferguson Cabin, down from the science center (shown in the photo above).  The trail will go down here for a bit, through the bald and enter some woods.  You'll see Ferguson Cabin through the trees, and the spring house right next to the trail.

Ferguson Cabin was built in 1874, by John Love Ferguson.  Ferguson Cabin is the highest cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, at 4700 feet.  The Ferguson family lived and farmed here until 1902.

Ferguson Cabin

The cabin as it stands today, is a rebuilt version, using wood from the original cabin, which was double pin construction.  Double pin is basically one roof, with two cabins separated by a breeze way.   In 2000, the cabin was rebuilt into a single structure.

The cabin had everything the Ferguson family needed, fields to grow corn and raise livestock, apple trees, and a spring for water.

The cabin is a great place to take a break, relax, and grab a snack while sitting on the front porch.  Make sure you go inside and read over the historic information on the wall.

Purchase Knob and the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center

The views from the science center are just beautiful, as you can see in the photo below.

Purchase Knob

In 2000, Kathryn McNeil and Voit Gilmore, donated the 535 acres to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Since then, this part of the park has averaged about 5,000 visitors per year, many being students, teachers and scientists.  Our kids have all been.

Looking southeast towards you'll see Cold Mountain and Mt. Pisgah.  Looking north, you'll see Mt. Sterling further into the park.  If the day is clear, the views are incredible.

The Cataloochee Divide Trail is located just behind the science center.

About the author

Larry Deane is co-owner of Blue Ridge Mountain Life. He has spent more than 20 years exploring the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and has a deep passion for nature, history, storytelling, and adventure. Along with his wife Jenn, they combined these passions to create Blue Ridge Mountain Life, a travel guide to these stunning mountains they are fortunate to call home.

Larry has more than 20 years of experience as a writer and journalist, and has established himself as a leading voice and expert for Blue Ridge Mountains. He is also an avid hiker, photographer, and videographer. He loves sharing his mountain adventures and knowledge with more than 500,000 people per month on Blue Ridge Mountain Life.


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