Cades Cove is a scenic 11-mile loop in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It has a long, rich history that is still standing for exploration by visitors today. Cades Cove loop is open to visitors from sunrise to sunset daily, with a special "Vehicle-Free Wednesday" during the summer to allow for bikers and hikers to enjoy the loop safely. Read on to learn more about the Cove, including information on the area's location, history and landmarks.
Where is Cades Cove?
The best way to reach the 11-mile loop is from Laurel Creek Roach. You can also reach it from Parson Branch Road or Rich Mountain Road, but they are usually closed in the winter. It will take about two to four hours to complete a tour around the Cove's one-lane road, but the scenery is worth a leisurely pace with frequent stops.Google Maps
Cades Cove Loop
The Cades Cove loop is an 11 mile paved road. It is accessible by automobile daily, with the exception of vehicle-free Wednesdays between May and September. Nearly all the buildings built by the pioneers and preserved by the Great Smoky Mountain National Park are outside the Loop and accessible by trails. The center of the loop is acre upon acre of grass and wildflower fields that were once cleared by frontiersmen for growing things such as wheat, corn and cattle.
Hiking Trails From Cades Cove
There are several hiking trails in and around Cades Cove, from the very popular Abrams Falls trail and the shorter Cades Cove Nature Trail. Other trails from the area include Anthony Creek (leading to Russell Field, Spence Field, & Rocky Top on Thunderhead Mountain) and the Rich Mountain loop.Cades Cove Trails
Biking The Loop
The 11 mile one way road is a popular biking area. It provides bicyclists with excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing and touring 19th century home sites. During summer and fall, bicycles may be rented at the campground store. New in 2020, the Cove is vehicle-free on Wednesday, making it even safer for you to enjoy the Cove on foot or by bike.Biking
Picnicking In Cades Cove
The picnic area is open year round and there are over 80 sites available. You'll find it on your left before reaching the Cades Cove loop. It is a large area with many places to sit down as well as a bathroom with flushable toilets. Picnic areas are also located along many of the trails in the Great Smoky Mountains.Picnicking
Cades Cove Campground
The Cades Cove Campground has tent and RV sites for camping for just $25 per night. These sites book up well in advance, so be sure to reserve online as soon as possible. There are also many backcountry camping sites along these trails, but a permit is needed to make use of them. For more information you can visit the National Park Service's web page.Campgrounds
The Cades Cove Visitor Center is an excellent place to learn about the history of Cades Cove. Located near the midpoint of the eleven mile Cades Cove loop, the visitor center is open 364 days a year, only closing on Christmas Day. There are many indoor and outdoor exhibits that showcase the Southern mountain lifestyle, plus seasonal ranger-led activities, and a shop and book store.Visitor Centers
Cades Cove Riding Stables
The Cades Cove Riding Stables offer guided horseback tours on scenic park trails from the middle of the month of March until November. Most rides last from the shorter 45 minute trail ride to several hours and all rides are taken at a walking pace. The stables also offer hayrides around the Loop. Learn more about rates and reservations by calling (865) 448-9009.Horseback Riding
Cades Cove History
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the isolated valley of Cades Cove was home to numerous settlers before the Great Smoky Mountains was a national park. The popular destination still holds many well preserved homesteads of the people before us. These remaining original structures, as well as abundant wildlife, are easy to spot as you travel the loop.History
Wildlife Viewing in Cades Cove
Open areas like the Cove offer opportunistic conditions to view Smokies wildlife. Many common animals can be seen in the area include white-tailed deer, black bear, raccoon, turkey, and woodchucks. A good rule to follow when viewing the wildlife of the Smoky Mountains is that if an animal changes its behavior, you are too close and it is a good idea to back-up a large distance until the animal resumes their natural activities.Wildlife Info
Feel free to take as many pictures as you like to keep as reminders, but federal regulations state that "Willfully approaching within 50 yards (150 feet), or any distance that disturbs or displaces bear or elk is prohibited." also, " feeding, touching, teasing, frightening, or intentionally disturbing wildlife is prohibited." Don't forget that even though they may sometimes look docile, these are still wild animals, and interacting with them can cause safety concerns for both you and them. Feeding of a wild animal almost always results in its demise, so please don't feed the bears or other wild animals while nature viewing in the park.