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One of the most common questions that I hear from visitors to Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains is “What is Cades Cove? Everyone says I should go.  Should I really?”  I always give the same answer, “Absolutely.”  During the winter months, the road out to Cades Cove closes during inclement weather, but it is worth a trip any time of year.  Here’s why…

John P. Cable grist and saw mill by Mike Goad from

John P. Cable grist and saw mill by Mike Goad from

Cades Cove is a lush valley surrounded by mountains and one of the most popular destinations in the Great Smokies. Deer are almost always sighted in the fields, and observations of other wildlife, including bear, Wild Turkey, and fox are possible. Please use pullouts when viewing wildlife and never approach or feed animals.

A wide array of historic buildings dating back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries is scattered through-out the cove. These include a grist mill (pictured at top), a variety of barns (see below), three churches, and a marvelous collection of log homes and outbuildings.

"Drive-through" barn in Cades Cove by Mike Goad of

"Drive-through" barn in Cades Cove by Mike Goad of

An 11-mile one-way loop road takes you around the cove. Traffic will be heavy during the tourist season in summer and fall and on weekends year-round.

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 round trip 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.

Corn Crib in Cades Cove by Mike Goad from

Corn Crib in Cades Cove by Mike Goad from

Several designated back country campsites (camping by permit only) are located along trails.

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.

Mileage to Cades Cove:
from Cherokee—57
from Gatlinburg—27
from Townsend—9

Special thanks to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park site for providing facts about Cades Cove and all of the wonderful treasures inside the Park.

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ERA In The SmokiesThis blog is sponsored in part by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg, TN. For more information on a Gatlinburg Cabin for your Smoky Mountain Vacation or all the reasons to move to the Smokies, call 1-800-309-0277. ERA In The Smokies is a leader in chalet and Log Cabin Rentals and Real Estate Sales in the Gatlinburg area.

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