Cades Cove Loop Road

EASY 139 reviews

Cades Cove Loop Road is a 10.1 mile moderately 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 best used from March until October.

10.1 miles
692 feet

kid friendly





mountain biking

nature trips

road biking

scenic driving

trail running




wild flowers



old growth

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
17 days ago

Great drive with spots to pull off and take pictures!

scenic driving
23 days ago

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

24 days ago

wow what a wonderful hike

1 month ago

This loop takes you back in time. It never ceases to amaze me what our forefathers were able to accomplish

1 month ago

I will avoid every trail along this path from now on. It takes an hour + to do with cars constantly stopping and going and all tourists who likely aren’t hiking.

2 months ago

VERY crowded and because it's a one-lane one-way road, you feel rushed because there's a line of cars behind you. So stopping to enjoy the view would mean backing up traffic in the middle of the forest. We caught a very tiny & quick glimpse of a bear that was very far away and in order to do that we had to pull over into the grass, get out of the car & walk to make our way through a heard of cars & crowd of people who were standing on the tip of their toes trying to see passed the person in front of them. There was a blockade set up so people cdnt get further in to see & some people were on the blockade to see if they catch a glimpse of the bear. We managed to make our way to a boulder that was big enough for us to stand on. just as we finally got up there and was able to see something in the distance, a ranger came and told everybody to disperse. so then you have a crowd of people trying to get back to their vehicles all at once. We sat in our car for what seemed like forever because we couldn't get out. it was a disaster. And we drove 2 hours to get there for that. I think the idea what Cades Cove was supposed to be is a great one, but when you take that idea and put it into practice it's a disaster.

scenic driving
4 months ago

Very fun drive and lots to do! Enjoy scenery....saw several baby deer too!

scenic driving
5 months ago

One of my favorite places. Can be a little crowded at times. They have a salt lick in the middle of the field for tourists to see bears but you usually them along with deer and other wildlife along the roadside.
The trailhead to Abraham’s falls is located at the old gristmill. That’s a hike worth taking.

scenic driving
7 months ago

My fiancé and I arrived at Cades Cove around 8:15 AM on Saturday morning. When we got there, there was already a rather large line. The path is a great theory, but it was so unbearably overcrowded that it made it harder to enjoy. Many vehicles kept pulling off in hazardous positions to take photos. We ended up actually seeing three black bear, which was pretty incredible. Very congested; it took us over three hours to complete (with the usual amount of stops).

8 months ago

Saw a couple of black bear. The views are breathtaking at some spots.

scenic driving
8 months ago

Beautiful drive. The scenery is beautiful. Lots of wildlife - saw a bear up in a tree. The only bad part was the traffic. Ugh. Made the drive not nearly as pleasant as it could be.

10 months ago

Beautiful!! We saw several deer and a black bear. Loved it! ❤️

10 months ago

First time seeing bears so up-close!

10 months ago

My wife and I have now walked the loop twice since June 2nd. The loop is moderate in certain areas but is an amazing different perspective than even biking it. Next time will be at night on with a full moon.

11 months ago

I biked this loop this morning with a rented bike. get there very early if you need to do that. they sell out. the early morning is the best time to see the mist on the mountains and see the wildlife

11 months ago

I biked it a few years ago. Arrive early and on time. Great ride even with the clouds and mist.

11 months ago

We biked this with our 7 and 9 year old. Great experience.

scenic driving
11 months ago

Cades Cove is so worth the trip from Gatlinburg Tn. It is about a 1 hour drive one way. Don't let the time scare you off, it was well worth the trip. We saw 2 mama black bears, and 7 cubs. Several deer, a lot of turkeys. There are a lot of lay overs if you want to stop and look at the mountains, fields, historic sites and old time cabins. There is also a small welcome center about mile 6 of the loop. I will be doing this drive again, but will plan on walking some of the many trails. Enjoy it.

nature trips
Friday, May 05, 2017

We've lived in East Tennessee for about 15 years and we've driven the loop many times (every time we had out of state visitors). We see wildlife almost every visit: deer and turkeys and usually a bear or two (or more if it's springtime and there's babies). We've also biked it a couple of times and it's an easy ride. Finally, yesterday we made the leap and walked the loop! We started at the exit so we were walking againt the vehicle trafgic. Bear in mind that we're a couple of middle-aged women with some health issues, so we took our sweet time and enjoyed the sights; it took us six hours, but we saw a mama bear teaching her triplet cubs to climb, as well as a doe with her two half-grown fawns (who walked right past us when we stopped to eat) And we saw the herd of horses from the riding stable galloping joyously out to pasture for the evening. Definitely a day to remember! We now believe walking the loop is the best way to enjoy Cades Cove.

road biking
Thursday, May 04, 2017

We biked this road early on a morning when no cars were allowed. It was raining but it was still absolutely beautiful. An easy going ride with many stops along the way.

Friday, April 21, 2017

love it

road biking
Thursday, March 30, 2017

We biked this lovely route two days ago. It is definitely up and down in parts but not too difficult. Peddling through this loop allowed us to see a large woodpecker near the road and a wild turkey. The weather turned cloudy, and it rained pretty steady on the whole way back to our car; it was still amazing ride.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Great site seeing. Feels like a safari, wildlife on both sides as well as structures from the 1800's

scenic driving
Friday, March 17, 2017

Beautiful views but there were sooo many people even in this cold weather. I would've paid to drive through, paying might keep traffic down.

scenic driving
Thursday, March 02, 2017

Was expecting a lot of wildlife, but saw one deer. The drive there was better than the actual trail. Probably wouldn't take time to do it again

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Just a drive in your car loop, lots of wildlife and leads to an awesome trail for Abram Falls!

scenic driving
Sunday, November 06, 2016

Very beautiful drive in a beautiful cove, Many Beautiful sights.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Hike it don't drive it.

nature trips
Thursday, October 06, 2016

Cades Cove is beautiful. The scenery is amazing and I always see something new whenever I go.

scenic driving
Monday, October 03, 2016

A remote and gorgeous section of GSMNP that reminds you of a bygone time...wonderful views of the valley, lots of wildlife and historic buildings. The ten mile one-way loop road and the area around the visitor center can get congested though. Best to get an early start and/or save for a weekday if possible. Well worth the trip!

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