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7 Reasons To Visit Cades Cove

Are you considering a day-trip over to Cades Cove? Check out some of the top reasons people spend a day or two of their Smoky Mountain vacation in this idyllic mountain valley.

1. Cades Cove Scenic Drive with Unbeatable Scenery

The Cades Cove scenic drive, which is one of the most popular activities in the entire Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is an 11-mile, one-way scenic loop. The picturesque setting of this valley is simply breathtaking! This scenic drive is among the best in the entire country and is not to be missed.

2. Bears, Elk, Foxes, Turkeys, Birds, Deer & Other Wildlife

If you are hoping to see a black bear or other wildlife during your visit to the Smoky Mountains, your best chance is Cades Cove. This protected valley with its plentiful water sources and abundant sources of food attracts TONS of wildlife. To increase the likelihood of seeing wildlife, consider touring Cades Cove close to dawn or dusk.

3. Tour Three Historical Churches

In Cades Cove there are three historical churches – the Missionary Baptist Church, Primitive Baptist Church, and Methodist Church. These buildings are all over 100 years old with a rich and storied past. Prior to visiting, ready the history of the church members, buildings, and Cades Cove.

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4. Visit a 150 Year-Old Working Water-Powered Mill

The Cades Cove Historical Grist Mill, which was built by John Cable in 1867, is fully restored and operational. In fact, if you visit between April and October, there will be a mill operator grinding corn that you can purchase! This 150 year-old, water-powered mill offers a rare glimpse into the pioneer lifestyle of early Cades Cove.

5. Incredible Hikes with Beautiful Views & Solitude

Looking to get away from it all? There are several incredible Cades Cove Hikes, but our favorite is Abram Falls. This moderately difficult hike, which is 5.2 miles roundtrip, provides incredible views of Abrams Falls. The scenery along the trail includes frequent wildlife, river crossings, and ridge views – the effort is well worth it!

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6. See Where The Pioneers Lived

The early pioneers that settled Cades Cove were a resilient and self-sufficient people. Now, can you can learn about the history of these early settlers and tour the homes they built by hand. Reading about the colorful past of these historical structures and visiting them is guaranteed to bring history to life and help you understand what life was like in pioneer times. 

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7. Exercise in Scenic Solitude

This picturesque cove is oftentimes filled with motor vehicles and traffic. However, you can visit the cove from early to May to late September and have the trail to yourself until 10 am! On these days, motor vehicles are prohibited for the early mornings to allow runners and bicyclists to enjoy the peacefulness of nature without motor vehicles.

As you plan your visit to Cades Cove, make sure to check out our complete guide to Cades Cove. This beautiful area is about 20 miles from Gatlinburg and 30 miles from Pigeon Forge, which makes it the perfect activity for a day in the Smoky Mountains. Why not pack a picnic lunch and spend the day in Cades Cove?