Cades Cove Loop Road

EASY 180 reviews

Cades Cove Loop Road is a 10.1 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Townsend, Tennessee that features a river and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

DISTANCE
10.1 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
692 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

wheelchair friendly

kid friendly

birding

camping

road biking

scenic driving

trail running

walking

paved

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

no dogs

This road through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park runs through a lush valley, see wildlife & historic buildings Cades Cove is a broad, verdant valley surrounded by mountains and is one of the most popular destinations in the Great Smokies. It offers some of the best opportunities for wildlife viewing in the park. Large numbers of white-tailed deer are frequently seen, and sightings of black bear, coyote, ground hog, turkey, raccoon, skunk, and other animals are also possible. For hundreds of years Cherokee Indians hunted in Cades Cove but archeologists have found no evidence of major settlements. The first Europeans settled in the cove sometime between 1818 and 1821. By 1830 the population of the area had already swelled to 271. Cades Cove offers the widest variety of historic buildings of any area in the national park. Scattered along the loop road are three churches, a working grist mill, barns, log houses, and many other faithfully restored eighteenth and nineteenth century structures. An 11-mile, one-way loop road circles the cove, offering motorists the opportunity to sightsee at a leisurely pace. Allow at least two to four hours to tour Cades Cove, longer if you walk some of the area's trails. 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 roundtrip 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. Several designated backcountry 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. Otherwise the road is open to motor vehicles from sunrise until sunset daily, weather permitting.

hiking
10 days ago

Wildlife and historical

17 days ago

We love driving the loop but was a great way to see it hiking it instead this time! This place never gets old !! Just beautiful!

mountain biking
21 days ago

Love biking this loop

road biking
1 month ago

Beautiful, scenic loop. We did that on bike around 2-5 pm, which seemed to be a rush hour for cars. Everybody is driving slowly, there is not much room to overtake, so we had to stop every time a car would pass or we would overtake a car which slowed down for taking pictures. Next time we would rather go in the morning or on Wednesday and Saturday morning when it is completely shut for cars. Otherwise it was a lovely biking, would highly recommend.

scenic driving
2 months ago

I have done this drive a few times while staying near Gatlinburg; usually during the summer. The loop can be a slow drive if crowded and this is the reason why I give it a four star rating. There are some places to park and exit the car to explore.

2 months ago

beautiful scenery

2 months ago

Wonderful self guided drive through the Cade’s Cove area of park. No “ hiking” necessary so this is good for seniors or mobility impaired. The midpoint offers an excellent place to stop and learn the history of the area. Don’t miss the sawmill and a chance to buy authentic stone ground cornmeal and sorghum. Behind the buildings, a small riverside trail leads left to where you might see a family of river otters! Traffic is steady, so allow 2-3 hours for the11 miles if you want to stop along the way

scenic driving
3 months ago

This where my heart lies at rest! I fell in love as a little girl and return as often as I can! Kid friendly take them teach them show them! Enjoy and respect! Please

3 months ago

Beautiful drive. We went in the afternoon on a Tuesday and it wasn’t too crowded at all. The only wildlife we saw were turkeys. There are lots of places to stop and take a hike or walk. We loved it!

4 months ago

amazing

4 months ago

Took my 2 and 5 year old by myself. Got there around noon. Was a perfect day. Seemed busy but didn't seem rushed when we were looking at stuff nor did we really wait on people in front of us. As soon as we exited the park, the kids fell asleep, so perfect length of time to keep them entertained. Bring food to entertain in the car.

scenic driving
4 months ago

Get there early!!! We took the advise of many other travelers and left at dawn arriving around 9ish which we thought was late. However within a half mile of the loop we spotted our first black bear in the trees getting a morning snack. We were delighted to see many more sightings through the loop. Several other Bears, deer, and wild turkeys that liked my son so much they followed us back to the car after a little stroll....a great scenic ride that gets congested later in the morning and the summer heat keeps the wildlife out of view.

scenic driving
4 months ago

We drove this route and got off at many of the historic sites. Beautiful views of the mountains. Saw some deer, fox and bear and lots of birds and butterfly. Before 10am this is a bike trail, which would be cool if we had our bikes! It’s about 10 miles straight though the loop, but longer when you include the side trips to the buildings (which require you to park and walk) lots of old cemeteries and barns. We saw a really cool spring house. Kids loved it, but then started to get repetitive and they were bored. If you do it, def plan to take a side trip to the falls. It’s a long trek but worth it.

scenic driving
4 months ago

Very pretty, a lot of wild animals with was cool

4 months ago

So pretty! Saw lots of wildlife and the kids loved it! We got out and walked at a few spots! Great if you don't like to hike but still like to see the views!

scenic driving
5 months ago

Absolutely beautiful view. A good place to view the mountains from the ground level. We even saw a few animals, black bear, fox, turkeys, deer. A few of old houses.

5 months ago

The loop didn’t open until 10 am so unfortunately didn’t beat the crowd. Cars were bumper to bumper. A few trails off the loop were good but loop itself was not worth making the trip for. One bear so far away you couldn’t tell what it was without binoculars. Cars were too back up to get a good glimpse.

scenic driving
5 months ago

Saw a bear near the end! Great views!

scenic driving
5 months ago

Beautiful views! Interesting historical buildings. Plenty of places to pullover and enjoy the view without feeling rushed. Highly recommend for an easy scenic drive.

hiking
5 months ago

I need to go back and ride my bike early morning. I went during the afternoon and didn’t see any wildlife.

6 months ago

Amazing!!! Love it every time.

road biking
6 months ago

An easy ride on a paved loop. Rent bikes at the Cade Cove Campground $7.50 per hr. The deer and bears are out in the morning. Start the ride early, the bike shop opens at 6:30am. The loop road is closed on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 6:30am to 10:00 am to vehicle traffic, but open to foot and bike traffic.

scenic driving
6 months ago

Favorite part of my trip! Get here early, lots of traffic but views are fantastic!

scenic driving
6 months ago

This always gets high reviews but both times I've gone I was underwhelmed. Also, people stop for everything and once you are in loop it is hard to get back out if you don't want to wait.

road biking
6 months ago

The Loop was beautiful, we saw 2 black bears and got an excellent workout in. With a road bike definitely an easy ride, but in those rental cruisers I’d say moderate because they don’t handle hills well, and there was definitely a lot of them. If you decide to bike this go In the morning, they shut the road down to vehicles on Saturday between the hours or 7 and 10. We went when the roads were open and it was pretty much traffic and dodging cars. Still an excellent ride and I’m happy we did it.

mountain biking
7 months ago

Perfect loop for bicyclist. The better the bike the better the ride, used all 27 speeds several times. It is open only to foot or bicycles Wednesday and Saturday mornings till 10 AM. I got there late and had to ride amongst bumper to bumper traffic which really slowed me down and disallowed me to pick up speed going downhill and use the momentum to get me up the next. This caused me to work harder for an incredible leg and cardio workout. Will enjoy again soon I hope. Saw bear cub and two wild turkeys.

scenic driving
7 months ago

Absolutely gorgeous!   This is probably my favorite part of the National Park.  Just a beautiful drive with plenty of stop offs.  Great valleys and mountain ranges in the background.  It does not open till 10am on Wednesdays and Saturdays so plan accordingly.  Also it is kind of way off in a separate area of the park so if you are thinking of stopping at the various historic buildings along the way and maybe adding in the hike to Abrams Falls plan this to be the only thing you do that day.  Plus the drive out there is just nice with some places to pull over and look at the view of the river.  Finally, we went in early May and there was a lot of traffic, as it gets closer to the summer expect significant traffic and delays.

scenic driving
8 months ago

Great drive with spots to pull off and take pictures!

scenic driving
8 months ago

Lots of cars but it was still nice. Saw a mamma bear and two cubs napping in a tree.

8 months ago

wow what a wonderful hike

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