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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

camping

road biking

scenic driving

bird watching

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.

scenic driving
1 day ago

Great scenic drive. We saw a white tailed deer, wild turkey and two black bears. We went in really early in the morning in an effort to avoid the crowds and it worked out pretty well.

hiking
2 days ago

Walked this on a Wednesday (no vehicles allowed). Great paved trail with a bathroom stop available half way through. Tons of wildlife - we saw bears, deer, turkeys and something that looked like an otter.

bike touring
2 days ago

Road is nice but better done when closed to traffic. Too many exhaust fumes. Did see two bears and some deer and turkey.

scenic driving
6 days ago

very pretty drive. I'm so unlucky lol. we only saw a turkey and a few deer. we were there from 2-4. every one recommends early or later. I would follow that advice! there were some additional trails you could walk as well.

hiking
8 days ago

Motor trail (except for Wednesday’s) about an hours drive from the sugarland visitor center. Trail opens at 8AM and closes at sunset. About 11 miles total, pretty slow driving throughout. Went at 6PM and saw several bears foraging, turkeys, deer, and a coyote. There were lots of trails off the main road and old mills to explore along the way. Took us about 2-3 hours to complete the loop in the evening!

road biking
14 days ago

Cades Cove Loop is a very beautiful and nice place to visit and enjoy the scenery. I saw horses, deer, bears with cubs, and turkeys. There are several trails around the loop to pull-off and got for hiking. I biked the entire loop during which everything was great except for the car traffic.

hiking
16 days ago

Such a great drive!! We saw SO much wildlife! (Bears, deer, coyote, turkeys...) As well as some pretty neat settlers buildings. I even got to see some of my ancestors graves.

17 days ago

This is a great scenic drive with plenty of opportunities to see wildlife. I've seen plenty of bears, a coyote, and deer on this drive. Several good places to pull over for pictures as well.

scenic driving
18 days ago

It was a beautiful drive. We saw quite a few bears and deer. Get there early to avoid lots of traffic.

hiking
22 days ago

Great trail for a short trip! Lots of stops for historic cabins and nature. There are a few trails that have the option to park and hike on. The loop can become backed up for quite a while depending on traffic and wildlife, but a good pick overall.

hiking
1 month ago

This is a great place to take the family. If you show up early and around sunset you will see plenty of wildlife. Also keep in mind, this is not an actual hike most of this is a car ride that goes around a 10 mile loop with several stops of historic cabins and churches and some cool stops of great views. This has a very “prairie in the mountains” feel. It is a lot of fun. Also expect traffic, bumper to bumper for most of the ride. This will probably take you about half to even a little more than half the day depending on how much stopping you do. Regardless, if you are out with the family and are interested in learning about some history in regards to some of the first settlers lived like I think you will enjoy this!

hiking
1 month ago

It was a nice trip as always. We always get there early and drive to loop and look at the historic sites first. Once we make it through the loop, we stop by the gift shop to get some food. After that, we go through the loop again.

mountain biking
1 month ago

Weather perfect day! As always, it is car- heavy, but beautiful and fun nonetheless!

scenic driving
1 month ago

Our last day in TN after looking for bears all week not spotting any, we ventured to this scenic drive. We got stuck in traffic we didn’t understand for a good hour in the same spot in the woods. We creep along and realize the issue, a one year old cute bear was visiting cars on the road. We took our time the same as everyone else and got some great video and pictures (uploaded here). We loved it! It’s a highlight of our trip. Be patient and don’t feed the wildlife! Also, we saw people get out of their car when the bear was feet away. Please don’t do that!

scenic driving
1 month ago

Black bears and mountains.

scenic driving
1 month ago

Went for our first time 3 days ago. Was crowded but enjoyable. The last mile or so was horrendous and believe they should do more about people stopping on the road. Took two hours to get from Cades Cove to Gatlinburg. The scenes were beautiful and we saw 4 bears. I loved it. Just think a little more can be done about traffic.

hiking
1 month ago

This is a must do for my husband and me when we visit the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. It is a motor trail with historic stops along the way. There are access points to trail heads within Cades Cove. There is usually wildlife to see. Today we saw a bear, several turkeys, and deer. You can be in and out within a few hours or spend the day.

hiking
1 month ago

While we did not see a lot of wildlife it was still a cool drive with several places to stop and break- up the trip and see some of the area’s history.

scenic driving
1 month ago

I appears like this drive and we usually see something interesting as long as we are early enough. Today was 3 bears, deer, and turkey

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful wildlife like deer and bears. Seen from car with small children is best!

hiking
1 month ago

Umm, If I could do it again, I wouldn’t! Don’t get me wrong, the views are very pretty, but nothing that you can’t see on a hike. We stopped a couple of times to look at an old house and a Church/Graveyard, but this was a top highlight of the trip that took 3 hours. The Last half mile took almost an hour. There were 2 bears high up in a tree. Almost every car stopped and got out, took pictures, and then looked for another 2 minutes. It’s a single lane road where you can’t drive past people. I get the fascination with the bears, but this ruined the trip for me.

hiking
3 months ago

This isn’t a hiking trail, it’s a paved 11 mile drive where you can stop at other hikes on the road. It took us 1.5 hours to get through it right a sunrise... I suggest go early to beat traffic. This places can take ALL day to get through because you can’t pass anyone. We were lucky enough to see so many animals, deer that came right up to our car, turkey, and surprisingly a bear!! We weren’t expecting to see a bear since it’s still early in the year for a sighting but we were very happy we did, it made our trip there so much more exciting! We went back the next day during lunch time and did not nearly as much animals at all, if any.

hiking
5 months ago

It’s a nice drive and has plenty of spots to stop and take pictures! We did it with our one year old. Saw lots of deer very close up, and there’s plenty of areas you can stop to park that has hiking trails that go all throughout Cade’s Cove.

hiking
6 months ago

Lovely area, but should not be tagged for hiking. The loop is a paved one-way road with some paces to stop off for short hikes. The entire loop was jam packed with cars, many of whom completely ignore the no stopping/idling signs, stopping to look at and take pictures of deer. If you live in the city and never see deer or trees, you’ll think this is heaven. If you live in the mountains full time like we do and have deer pass through your yard multiple times per day, you won’t be impressed.

6 months ago

Lots of people but worth it! Take time don't just drive the loop. Park the car get out and have fun.

hiking
7 months ago

Awesome place but gave it 3 stars due to too many people

hiking
8 months ago

We were expecting this to be about a 2 hour activity with driving and some short trails. Took us 5 HOURS to get thru because you can’t pass anyone.. i mean we were stopped and couldn’t move for 20 min because people were amazed at a small turkey! So if i were you, id block out quite a bit of time. The water mill at the end was beautiful. And the views are amazing.

hiking
8 months ago

Relaxing drive except in fall. Lost of bear and deer.

hiking
8 months ago

i loved this park. so many great sites to see but don't run into a bear.

road biking
8 months ago

great road to bike if no cars. Rode it today with cars and it was horrible. Not always enough room to move past stopped/slow moving traffic and the gravel shoulder had lots of stream crossings. Still really beautiful.

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