Cades Cove is a broad,
verdant 6,800-acre valley near Townsend, Tennessee in the Great
Smoky Mountains National Park. It is surrounded by mountains and is
one of the most popular destinations in the par. It offers some of
the best opportunities for wildlife viewing in the park. Large
numbers of white-tailed deer are frequently seen, and sightings of
black bear, coyote, ground hog, turkey, raccoon, skunk, and other
animals are also possible.
For hundreds of years Cherokee Indians hunted in Cades Cove
but archeologists have found no evidence of major settlements. The
first Europeans settled in the cove sometime between 1818 and 1821.
By 1830 the population of the area had already swelled to 271. Cades
Cove offers the widest variety of historic buildings of any area in
the national park. Scattered along the loop road are three churches,
a working grist mill, barns, log houses, and many other faithfully
restored eighteenth and nineteenth century structures. An
inexpensive self-guiding tour booklet available at the entrance to
the road provides in-depth information about the buildings and the
people who built and used them.
An 11-mile, one-way loop road circles the cove, offering motorists
the opportunity to sightsee at a leisurely pace. Allow at least two
to four hours to tour Cades Cove, longer if you walk some of the
area’s trails. Traffic is heavy during the tourist season in summer
and fall and on weekends year-round. While
driving the loop road,
please be courteous to other visitors and use pullouts when stopping
to enjoy the scenery or view wildlife. A visitor center (open
daily), restrooms, and the Cable Mill historic area are located
half-way around the loop road.
Numerous trails originate in the cove, including the five-mile
roundtrip trail to Abrams Falls and the short Cades Cove Nature
Trail. Longer hikes to Thunderhead Mountain and Rocky Top (made
famous by the popular song) also begin in the cove. Several
designated backcountry campsites (camping by permit only) are
located along trails. A campground with 159 sites is open year round
in Cades Cove. Tents and RVs up to 35 feet can be accommodated in
Only bicycle and foot traffic are allowed on the loop road until
10:00 a.m. every Saturday and Wednesday morning from early May until
late September. Otherwise the road is open to motor vehicles from
sunrise until sunset daily, weather permitting.
Great Smoky Mountains
National Park, West of
Asheville near Townsend TN
Distance: 3-4 hours from Asheville
Address: Headquarters: Great Smoky Mountains National Park,
107 Park Headquarters Rd., Gatlinburg, TN 37738. The Cades Cove
Visitor Center is near the western entrance of the park).
Telephone: General Information 423-436-1200
Cades Cove Campground: 877-444-6777
Cherokee Indian Reservation,
Nantahala National Forest.
Directions: From Asheville take I-40 west towards Tennessee.
After you reach Tennessee take Exit 443 onto Foothills Parkway
towards Gatlinburg and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Go 6.3
miles and turn left at TN 73/US321 heading west to Gatlinburg.
In Gatlinburg take 441 toward the National Park and turn at the Sugarlands Visitor Center. From here you will take Little River Road
to Laurel Creek Rd which runs straight into Cades Cove.