No trip to the Smokies is complete without a stop at Cades Cove! There are plenty of activities and sights to see at this popular destination in the national park that are sure to keep you and your family occupied for hours! To help you make the most of your trip, here are 5 fun things to do when you visit Cades Cove.
1. Take a Scenic Drive
The Cades Cove Loop Road is an 11-mile scenic drive that takes about 2 to 4 hours to complete. There are several churches, a working grist mill, barns, log houses, and other restored 18th and 19th-century structures. There are also pullouts located along the road, so you can park your car, and hop out to take a few pictures and admire the views.
2. Wildlife Viewing
Many places in the national park are surrounded by dense forest, making it somewhat of a challenge to spot Smoky Mountain wildlife. However, this isn’t an issue in the wide-open Cades Cove valley! White-tailed deer, black bears, coyotes, and turkeys are frequently seen roaming around the cove. Just remember to keep a safe distance between yourself and these amazing animals so that you don’t spook them. It’s a smart idea to bring a pair of binoculars along so that you can see them clearly even from farther away.
3. Explore the Trails
There are numerous trails that originate in the cove, some of which include the 5-mile roundtrip trail to Abrams Falls and the short Cades Cove Nature Trail. Longer hikes to Thunderhead Mountain and Rocky Top also start in the cove. No matter how experienced of a hiker you are, there is bound to be a trail that you are able to conquer. There are even some hikes that are great for the whole family to explore together!
4. Go for a Bike Ride
Did you know that there’s a time when you can ride the Cades Cove Loop Road on your bike without vehicles passing by? Every Saturday and Wednesday morning from early May until late September, this road is closed to motor vehicles until 10:00 a.m. If you don’t have a bike or just don’t feel like bringing yours along, you can always rent one from the Cades Cove Campground Store. Just be sure to wear your helmet so that you can have a safe and enjoyable ride!
5. Have a Picnic
There are numerous picnic areas where you and your family can sit down and enjoy a nice lunch together. You can also just spread out a blanket in the grass and have your mid-day meal in the sunshine. Whichever way you decide to have your lunch, it’s sure to be a delight! For your own safety and the safety of the animals that live near the cove, remember to pick up all of your trash and leftovers so that you don’t attract any wildlife to the area.
Now that you know a little more about Cades Cove, it’s time to start planning your trip! Be sure to check out all the other things to do in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for a fun-filled trip!