Cades Cove was not always a place to visit for a day; it used to be a place to live. For over 100 years before the park was created, many families worked and played in the Cades Cove valley. Before Europeans settled in the valley, Cherokees Indians traveled through the valley to hunt the abundant deer, elk, bison and bears.
Cades Cove is one of the most visited areas in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Visitors are able to explore historic cabins, churches and a grist mill; spot white-tailed deer, turkeys, black bears, coyote, ground hog, turkey, raccoon, skunk, and other animals; and enjoy gorgeous mountain scenery from their car or take a leisurely bicycle ride around the loop road.
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. And a campground with 159 sites is open year round in Cades Cove.
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.
For more information on Cades Cove or the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, visit http://www.nps.gov/grsm/index.htm.