No trip to Gatlinburg is complete without a visit to the 6,800 acre valley in the Smokies known as Cades Cove. Full of history, wildlife and enjoyed via numerous means of transit it is one of the most visited locations in the park. Let’s explore a little bit of history and all the reasons Cades Cove must be on your Smoky Mountain vacation agenda.
Although the Cades Cove Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places there has been no evidence found of major settlements. It is believed that this Cherokee hunting ground was first inhabited by European settlers around the year 1818. Along the 11 mile loop you will discover historic churches, a working grist mill and numerous other 18th and 19th century buildings including the John Oliver cabin. Believed to be the oldest home in Cades Cove, this log cabin was hand built without the benefit of nails or the power tools we rely on today.
The loop can be enjoyed from the comfort of your car or if you are looking for an experience that takes you a little off the beaten path check in with the Cades Cove Riding Stable. Enjoy the scenery from horseback or even on a hayride! It is a fun way to explore the cove, see some wildlife and hear tales from the experienced guides about the rich history of Cades Cove. What can you expect to see from this vantage point? Aside from the awe-inspiring 5,500 ft. mountain peaks Cades Cove is one of the top places to view the natural inhabitants of the park. It is not uncommon to see white tailed deer, black bears, wild turkeys and more.
Want out of the car but not interested in a horseback excursion? The park is closed to motor vehicles each Saturday and Wednesday until 10:00 AM to allow bicycle and foot traffic. Few things can compare to watching a sunrise in Cades Cove. Bicycle rental is available making this a convenient way to experience more of the area.
Several trailheads begin in Cades Cove including a five mile round trip to Abrams Falls. If you are looking for a longer hiking experience why not explore the origins of the song heard throughout the region, “Rocky Top“? You can visit both Rocky Top and Thunderhead Mountain from the cove with back country camp sites available along the way with a permit.
No matter if you have been to the area a hundred times or never before, Cades Cove is a trip you must make if you are in the area. And what better way to end the day after a trip to Cades Cove than coming home to a Smoky Mountain retreat? We have numerous vacation homes available to choose from and are here to help with every step of your vacation planning. We have something available for every occasion and every budget. Start your vacation planning here at our website and see a few of the reasons Gatlinburg is the top choice in mountain get aways.