Cades Cove Loop Drive: Stunning Smoky Mountain Scenery

Cades Cove Loop Drive: Stunning Smoky Mountain Scenery

Are you ready for a memorable family road trip surrounded by breathtaking beauty? Look no further than the Cades Cove Loop Drive in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This scenic drive offers a perfect blend of stunning mountain views, historic buildings, and abundant wildlife, making it an ideal destination for nature enthusiasts and adventure-seekers alike.

As you embark on the 11-mile journey through the Great Smoky Mountains, you’ll be treated to mesmerizing scenic overlooks at every turn. The lush green landscapes and towering mountain peaks create a picturesque backdrop that will leave you in awe. Wildflower meadows add vibrant pops of color, creating a truly enchanting experience.

Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to explore a variety of historic buildings, including churches, log homes, barns, and the iconic John P. Cable Grist Mill. These structures offer a glimpse into the area’s rich history and provide a deeper appreciation for the region’s cultural heritage.

But it’s not just the scenery and historic charm that make Cades Cove so special. Wildlife enthusiasts will delight in the diverse range of animals that call this area home. Keep your eyes peeled for whitetail deer, coyotes, elk, foxes, and if you’re lucky, even black bears. Cades Cove is a haven for wildlife watching, providing countless opportunities to observe these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.

Whether you’re embarking on a day trip or planning a longer stay, the Cades Cove Loop Drive promises to be a highlight of your visit to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. So pack up the car, grab your camera, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure surrounded by stunning scenery and abundant wildlife. It’s time to create lasting memories on your family road trip through the Cades Cove Loop Drive.

What to See at Cades Cove

In addition to the natural beauty, visitors to Cades Cove can explore the rich history of the area. There are numerous historic buildings to see, including churches, log homes, barns, and the John P. Cable Grist Mill. Each building has its own unique story and provides a glimpse into the past.

“Cades Cove is a window into the past, showcasing the resilient spirit of early settlers and their way of life. The historic buildings offer a fascinating look into the challenges and successes of those who called this place home.” – Local historian

One must-visit landmark is the John P. Cable Grist Mill, a fully operational water-powered mill that dates back to the 19th century. It is a testament to the craftsmanship and ingenuity of the era. As you explore the mill, you’ll gain insight into the early milling process and its importance to the community.

The wildlife at Cades Cove is equally captivating. Keep your eyes peeled for whitetail deer, coyotes, elk, foxes, and even black bears. A camera or binoculars will enhance your experience as you observe these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.

Immerse Yourself in History

  • Step inside the well-preserved churches and imagine the worship services that took place there.
  • Marvel at the craftsmanship of the log homes and barns, which were essential to the survival of early settlers.
  • Learn about the challenges and triumphs of the community as you explore each building along the way.

Wildlife Spotting Tips

  • Be respectful of the animals’ natural habitats.
  • Keep a safe distance and use binoculars or zoom lenses for a closer look.
  • Observe from a designated area and never approach or feed the wildlife.

As you venture through Cades Cove, take a moment to appreciate the historic buildings and the wildlife that call this place home. The stories of the past and the beauty of nature combine to create a truly memorable experience.

How to Get to Cades Cove Loop

To begin your journey to the picturesque Cades Cove Loop, start from Gatlinburg and take the Parkway that leads to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Once you pass the Sugarland Visitor Center, make a right onto Little River Road. Continue on this road until it dead-ends into Cades Cove.

The drive from Gatlinburg to Cades Cove takes approximately an hour and a half, and along the way, you’ll be treated to scenic views of the surrounding mountains. It’s a great opportunity to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the region before reaching your destination.

It’s important to note that there are specific restrictions for visiting Cades Cove Loop. From early May through late September, vehicles are not allowed on the loop on Wednesdays. During these months, only bicycles and foot traffic are permitted, allowing visitors to fully appreciate and explore the area’s natural surroundings.

However, during other months, vehicles are permitted on Wednesdays, allowing for a more convenient and comfortable experience. Whether you choose to visit on foot, bike, or by vehicle, the enchanting Cades Cove Loop promises an unforgettable journey through breathtaking landscapes and rich history.

Tips for Your Cades Cove Visit

While driving through Cades Cove, it’s important to be mindful of a few tips to enhance your experience. Here are some essential tips to keep in mind:

1. Wildlife Viewing

Keep your eyes peeled for the abundant wildlife that calls Cades Cove home. You may have the opportunity to spot whitetail deer, coyotes, elk, foxes, and even black bears. Remember to maintain a safe distance and observe them from a respectful distance.

2. Courteous Driving

As you explore the Cades Cove Loop, it’s important to practice courteous driving. Be mindful of other visitors on the road and allow cars to pass when necessary. This way, everyone can enjoy the scenic drive without any inconvenience.

3. Restroom Availability

Restrooms are conveniently available in various locations throughout Cades Cove. You can find restroom facilities near Cable Mill, the Visitor Center, Ranger Station, and the Campground. Take advantage of these facilities to ensure a comfortable visit.

You can make the most of your visit to Cades Cove by followingthese tips and enjoy the wildlife, scenic beauty, and historical sites that await you.

“Cades Cove is a wildlife enthusiast’s paradise. Don’t miss the chance to witness these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.”

Wildlife Viewing at Cades Cove

Scenic Highlights of Cades Cove Loop

The Cades Cove Loop Drive in Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers a truly picturesque experience. As you embark on this scenic journey, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of wildflower meadows, captivating mountain landscapes, and a rich diversity of wildlife.

The road winds through vibrant wildflower meadows, transforming the landscape into a beatiful expanse of colors during the blooming seasons. Picture yourself surrounded by the delicate petals of lupines, coneflowers, and black-eyed Susans as you drive along the loop. It’s a truly enchanting sight.

The mountain landscapes that sourond the Cades Cove Loop are equally awe-inspiring. Majestic peaks rise in the distance, creating a stunning backdrop for your journey. Whether it’s the gentle slopes covered in lush greenery or the rugged cliffs that reach towards the sky, every turn offers a new vista to admire.

“The Cades Cove Loop is a nature lover’s paradise, with its wildflower meadows, panoramic mountain landscapes, and abundant wildlife. It’s a feast for the senses at every corner.” – Nature Enthusiast Magazine

As you traverse the loop, keep your eyes peeled for the diverse wildlife that calls this area home. The fields and woods attract a rich variety of species, offering you glimpses of their natural habitat. Look out for white-tailed deer grazing in open meadows, black bears ambling through the forest, and coyotes darting across the landscape. The mix of wildlife is truly remarkable and will leave you in awe of nature’s beauty.

Explore the Cades Cove Visitors Center

Located halfway through the Cades Cove Loop, the Cades Cove Visitors Center is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the area. Step inside and immerse yourself in the rich history and culture of Cades Cove. This informative center offers a variety of resources, including maps and souvenirs, to enhance your experience.

As you explore the Visitors Center, you’ll find a wide selection of souvenirs that capture the essence of Cades Cove. From t-shirts and mugs to locally made crafts, there’s something for everyone to take home as a memento of their visit.

While browsing through the center, be sure to pick up a detailed map of the area. These maps are invaluable in helping you navigate the Cades Cove Loop and discover all of its historic buildings and landmarks. Whether you prefer to explore by foot or car, the map will guide you to each significant point of interest.

A Place to Learn

The Cades Cove Visitors Center is also a treasure trove of information about the history and significance of the area. Learn about the pioneers and settlers who once called this land home and gain insight into their way of life through engaging exhibits and displays. Discover the stories behind the log homes, churches, barns, and other structures scattered throughout the loop.

“The Visitors Center provides a valuable opportunity to delve deeper into the history of Cades Cove and gain a greater appreciation for the rich heritage of this fascinating place.”

As you explore the Visitors Center, don’t forget to venture a short distance to visit the John P. Cable Grist Mill. This fully restored water-powered mill offers a glimpse into Cades Cove’s milling history. Watch in awe as the mill’s giant wheel powers the grinding stones to produce meal and flour, just as it did in the past.

Visiting the Cades Cove Visitors Center and the nearby John P. Cable Grist Mill provides a comprehensive experience that allows you to fully immerse yourself in the history, culture, and natural beauty of this remarkable destination.

Cade Cove Visitor Center

What You Can Find at the Cades Cove Visitors Center:

  • Souvenirs that capture the essence of Cades Cove
  • Detailed maps to navigate the Cades Cove Loop
  • Exhibits and displays showcasing the history of the area
  • Information on the significance of historic buildings
  • The opportunity to visit the John P. Cable Grist Mill

Wildlife Viewing Opportunities at Cades Cove

Cades Cove is an ideal destination for wildlife enthusiasts, offering abundant opportunities to spot a variety of fascinating animals in their natural habitats. Keep your eyes peeled as you explore the area, and you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of some incredible creatures.

One of the most iconic species found in Cades Cove is the majestic white-tailed deer. These graceful creatures can often be spotted grazing in open fields or wandering through the forest. Take a moment to appreciate their beauty and observe their peaceful demeanor from a safe distance.

Wlidlife in Cades Cove - Coyote

Another highlight of Cades Cove is the chance to encounter black bears. These magnificent creatures are impressive to behold but remember to keep a respectful distance and never approach them. Admire these creatures from afar and remember to always prioritize their safety and well-being.

Additionally, coyotes are known to inhabit the area, adding to the excitement of wildlife viewing in Cades Cove. These clever and elusive predators may be observed as they move stealthily through the landscape.

For bird lovers, turkeys are a common sight in the area. These large, striking birds can often be seen foraging in fields or perched in trees. Take a moment to appreciate their vibrant plumage and unique vocalizations.

Wildlife Viewing Tips

“To maximize your wildlife viewing experience and ensure the safety of both yourself and the animals, here are a few important tips to keep in mind:”

  • Keep a safe distance: It’s crucial to maintain a respectful distance from wildlife. Use binoculars or a camera with a telephoto lens to observe animals up close without disturbing them.
  • Stay quiet: Wildlife may be easily startled by loud noises, so keep conversations hushed and avoid sudden movements.
  • Be patient: Wildlife sightings can be unpredictable. Take your time, be patient, and allow nature to unfold before your eyes.
  • Leave no trace: Respect the environment and wildlife by disposing of trash properly and leaving natural habitats undisturbed.
  • Follow park regulations: Always adhere to park rules and regulations regarding wildlife observation. These guidelines are in place to protect both visitors and the animals themselves.

Remember, observing wildlife in their natural habitat is a privilege and should be done with care and respect. By following these tips, you can help ensure the safety and well-being of the animals while enjoying a memorable wildlife viewing experience at Cades Cove.

Hiking Trails in Cades Cove

Ready for some outdoor adventure? Cades Cove offers a variety of hiking trails that allow you to explore the beauty of nature up close. Whether you’re seeking a leisurely stroll or a challenging trek, there’s a trail for every level of hiker.

“The mountains are calling, and I must go.” – John Muir

Abrams Falls

One of the most popular trails in Cades Cove is the Abrams Falls trail. This 5-mile round trip hike takes you to a breathtaking 20-foot waterfall. As you make your way along the trail, you’ll be surrounded by lush greenery and might even spot some wildlife along the way. Just be sure to wear sturdy shoes and bring plenty of water for this moderate-level hike.

Cades Cove Nature Trail

If you prefer a more leisurely hike, the Cades Cove Nature Trail is the perfect choice. This easy 0.8-mile loop trail takes you through peaceful meadows and wooded areas. It’s an excellent opportunity to connect with nature and observe the beautiful flora and fauna of the area.

Thunderhead Mountain and Rocky Top

For the more adventurous hikers, the trails to Thunderhead Mountain and Rocky Top offer a challenging and rewarding experience. These hikes are longer and more strenuous, but the panoramic views from the mountaintops are truly spectacular. Keep in mind that these trails require a higher level of fitness and hiking experience.

Whichever trail you choose, make sure to come prepared with appropriate attire, plenty of water, and a sense of adventure. Happy hiking!

Camping at Cades Cove

Visitors who wish to spend more time in Cades Cove can take advantage of the camping options available. Whether you prefer the convenience of established campgrounds or the ruggedness of backcountry camping, there is something for everyone.

Cades Cove Campground

If you’re looking for a comfortable camping experience with modern amenities, the Cades Cove Campground is the perfect choice. This campground is open year-round and offers campsites for tents and RVs up to 35 feet in length. It’s a great option for families and provides easy access to the many attractions in Cades Cove. Enjoy the beauty of nature while still having the comforts of home.

Anthony Creek Horse Camp

For equestrian enthusiasts, the Anthony Creek Horse Camp is a dream come true. Located within the national park, this camp offers horse-friendly campsites and access to beautiful trails for horseback riding. Stay overnight and wake up to the sound of horses neighing in the morning. It’s a unique camping experience that horse lovers shouldn’t miss.

Backcountry Camping

If you’re a seasoned outdoor adventurer looking for a more rugged camping experience, backcountry camping is the way to go. Get away from the crowds and immerse yourself in the wilderness of Cades Cove. With a reservation and permit, you can explore the remote areas of the park, set up camp in secluded spots, and truly connect with nature. Just be sure to follow the guidelines and leave no trace of your presence.

Whether you choose to stay at the Cades Cove Campground, Anthony Creek Horse Camp, or venture out into the backcountry, camping in Cades Cove is an unforgettable experience. Spend your nights under the stars, wake up to the sounds of nature, and create lasting memories in this beautiful corner of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Mileage and Directions to Cades Cove

Planning your trip to Cades Cove? Here’s all the information you need regarding mileage and directions to ensure a smooth journey to this beautiful destination within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Getting to Cades Cove

Cades Cove can be accessed from various directions, depending on your starting point. Here are the approximate distances from popular nearby locations:

  • Mileage from Cherokee, NC: Cades Cove is approximately 57 miles from Cherokee. Take in the scenic drive as you make your way to this picturesque destination.
  • Mileage from Gatlinburg, TN: The distance from Gatlinburg to Cades Cove is approximately 27 miles. Enjoy the journey through the stunning Smoky Mountain landscapes.
  • Mileage from Townsend, TN: If you’re coming from Townsend, it’s a short drive of approximately 9 miles to reach Cades Cove. Experience the tranquility of the surrounding area as you make your way there.

Once you arrive in the vicinity of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, simply follow the signage and directions to easily reach the entrance of the Cades Cove Loop Road.

Take a moment to refer to the map below to get a visual overview of the distances:

With these directions and mileage estimates in mind, you can now embark on a memorable journey to Cades Cove, where stunning natural beauty and rich historical landmarks await.

Recommended Reading for Cades Cove

If you’re eager to explore the captivating history and picturesque nature of Cades Cove, we recommend checking out our recommended reading materials. The “Cades Cove Story” provides a fascinating glimpse into the farming practices, daily life, religious traditions, and recreational activities of the vibrant community. Delve into the past and gain a deeper appreciation for the heritage of this extraordinary place.

To make the most of your visit, consider picking up the self-guiding auto tour booklet. This comprehensive guide will lead you through the historic buildings and landmarks along the Cades Cove Loop, providing valuable insights into the fascinating stories behind each structure. Immerse yourself in the rich history and heritage of the area as you explore the loop at your own pace.

If hiking is your passion, don’t miss out on the “Day Hikes In and Around Cades Cove” map and guide. This invaluable resource offers detailed information about the best day hikes in the region, allowing you to discover the breathtaking beauty and diverse ecosystems within and surrounding Cades Cove. Lace up your hiking boots and embark on an adventure through scenic trails you won’t soon forget.

These recommended reading materials and guides are designed to enrich your experience and deepen your understanding of Cades Cove. Whether you’re seeking a deeper connection with the history, a self-guided tour, or the perfect day hike, these resources will ensure you make the most of your time in this remarkable destination.


Q: What can I see at Cades Cove?

A: Cades Cove offers stunning views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, historic buildings including churches, log homes, barns, and the John P. Cable Grist Mill, as well as abundant wildlife.

Q: How do I get to Cades Cove Loop?

A: To reach Cades Cove Loop, start from Gatlinburg and take the Parkway to the National Park. After passing the Sugarland Visitor Center, turn right onto Little River Road and continue until it dead-ends into Cades Cove.

Q: What are some tips for visiting Cades Cove?

A: While driving through Cades Cove, keep an eye out for wildlife, drive courteously, and allow other cars to pass when necessary. Restrooms are available near Cable Mill, the Visitor Center, Ranger Station, and Campground for convenience during your visit.

Q: What are the scenic highlights of Cades Cove Loop?

A: The Cades Cove Loop offers breathtaking views of wildflower meadows, mountain landscapes, and diverse wildlife.

Q: What can I find at the Cades Cove Visitors Center?

A: At the Cades Cove Visitors Center, you can browse through a variety of souvenirs, maps, and locally made products. The center also provides valuable information about the history of Cades Cove and the significance of the historic buildings found along the loop.

Q: What wildlife can I spot at Cades Cove?

A: Wildlife sightings at Cades Cove may include white-tailed deer, black bears, coyotes, turkeys, and various other animals. Remember to practice safe wildlife viewing and respect their habitats.

Q: Are there hiking trails in Cades Cove?

A: Cades Cove does offers hiking trails such as Abrams Falls, Cades Cove Nature Trail, and trails to Thunderhead Mountain and Rocky Top.

Q: Can I camp at Cades Cove?

A: Yes, there are camping options available at Cades Cove, including the year-round Cades Cove Campground for tents and RVs, the Anthony Creek Horse Camp for equestrian enthusiasts, and backcountry camping with a reservation and permit.

Q: How far is Cades Cove from Cherokee, Gatlinburg, and Townsend?

A: Cades Cove is approximately 57 miles from Cherokee, 27 miles from Gatlinburg, and 9 miles from Townsend.

Q: Are there any recommended reading materials for Cades Cove?

A: Yes, there are recommended reading materials such as the “Cades Cove Story” for insights into the area’s history, the self-guiding auto tour booklet for a comprehensive guide, and the “Day Hikes In and Around Cades Cove” map and guide for detailed information about hiking trails.

Source Links