Cades Cove is the most famous destination in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A trip to the Smokies is incomplete without experiencing Cades Cove. This stunning valley that is surrounded by mountains provides some of the best activities like hiking, biking, fishing, and more. If you are visiting the park for the first time, here we have some of the best activities to do in this beautiful place.
Cades Cove is an amazing place for hiking into the sylvan fabulousness of the Great Smoky Mountains. The hiking trail ranges from short and easy like Cades Cove Nature Trail to long hikes like Strenuous. A popular hike here is in the middle ground which is about a five-mile road trip trail to Abraham Falls. There is one more trail which is about 8.5 mile Rich Mountain Loop Climbing to the north rim of the Cades Cove and getting back. There is one more trail which people demand and which is about 13.9 mile Rocky Top Trail. That route starts from the Antony Creek Trailhead which is in the Cades Cove picnic area and it climbs up to the Great Smoky Mountains that divide to Rocky Top. The view begins from Cades Cove to Fontana Lake and gives an amazing view of mountains and ridges. The Gregory Bald is another classic hiking trail in Cades Cove.
Hiking will give you a chance to get a close-up and amazing view of the history found here that include churches, old cabins, grist mill, and more. There are hiking trails like:
- Ace Gap Trail (5.6 miles)
- Anthony Creek Trail (3.5 miles)
- Cooper Road Trail (10.5 miles)
- Gregory Bald Trail (4.5 miles)
- Rich Mountain Loop Trail (3.4 miles)
Biking in Cades Cove is one of the exciting things to do and enjoy with your family and friends. Driving through Loop Road is very pleasant and the best way to experience it. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has made an effort to provide safety and many opportunities for bicyclists to explore the loop road without worrying about the traffic. The loop road is closed from car traffic on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. If you don’t have a bike or if you have left it at home, you can rent a bike from the Cades Cove Campground Store.
You can see wildlife anywhere in the Smoky Mountains. The animals here are from chickadees which are in a ridgetop forest to a rare glimpse of a bobcat which is along with creekside rhododendrons. Cades Cove is a premier place for wildlife watching and it is given an open area, parkland sightlines and also foraging its meadows and groves that offer critters. If you go for a drive in the early morning or in the evening, you will be able to see most of the wildlife like white-tailed deer, groundhogs, coyotes, red foxes, black bears, etc. You can also see many types of birds in Cades Cove. Roadside birdwatching in the fields lets you see barn swallows, meadowlarks, goldfinches, short-eared owls, and quail. In the creekside, you will be able to see blue herons or wood ducks, woodpeckers, or a red-shouldered hawk.
Set yourself up for a creekside meal in the Cades Cove Picnic Area which is a lovely place and it is open year-round. It also offers 81 spots. The Cades Cove picnic area is available free of charge to all visitors who visit the park. The picnic area offers a picnic table and a charcoal grill where you can create a memorable dining experience with your friends and family. You can bring your food or you can buy something to eat at one of the local restaurants and enjoy your time here. To protect the animals, we would ask you to dispose of the trash in the waste bins.
If you would like to extend your explorations in the Cades Cove, you can go camping in the Cades Cove Campground. It will be exciting and more fun in the campground by choosing to sleep under the stars. There are only two campgrounds in the Great Smoky Mountains which are open year-round and it offers both individual and ground sites. The campground offers indoor flushable toilets, water fountains, and payphones.
The guided horseback rides in the Cades Cove are offered by an official National Park Service concessionaire, Cades Cove Riding Stables. It is another alternative to a car for enjoying yourself in the landscape. You can have awesome traverses of old-growth timber through the forest.
The most popular activity to do in Cades Cove is taking a scenic auto-drive through the one-way 11-mile loop road. You will be able to see historic home sites and buildings, enjoy the beautiful mountains in the distance, see acres of open fields, and see wildlife along the way. An amazing part of having a scenic drive is that you can experience the scenic beauty of this place and it allows you to cover a lot of footage.
If you have spotted something and if you would like to explore, you can see there are many pull-offs along the road where you can park your vehicle without blocking the road. Depending on the time of the year you visit, you make sure to leave some time for travel and to explore The Cove.
Where to stay
You can enjoy all the fun things to do in Cades Cove by staying in one of the cabins in Gatlinburg. It’s not only located near the attractions but also provides fun amenities in the cabin. It’s time to start planning your trip to the Cades Cove!!