Top 6 Cades Cove Hiking Trails for Your Smoky Mountain Vacation

One of the best hiking spots in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is Cades Cove. Cades Cove is one of the beautiful meadows surrounded by the mountains. It is one of the most well known areas in the park. While driving the loop is a popular way to tour, Cades Cove hiking is one of the best ways to explore! Millions of visitors make their way to Cades Cove each year to experience the historical structures and see a different view of the Smoky Mountains. Here are our top 6 Cades Cove hiking trails for your Smoky Mountain Vacation:

There are many Cades Cove hiking trails that will give visitors beautiful views of the Smoky Mountains while showcasing all of the historic elements of the park. Here’s a few of the best Cades Cove hiking trails:

1. Gregory Bald

Gregory Bald Hike over looking Cades Cove

The Gregory Bald Trail is known for its panoramic views of the Smokies and the flame azaleas that bloom each year. It can be accessed via Parson Branch Road in the Cades Cove area. The roundtrip length of this trail is approximately 9 miles.

2. Ace Gap

This is a 5.5 mile Cades Cove hiking trail that shows little gain or loss of altitude, so it is relatively flat. The trailhead is located on Rich Mountain Road. This trail runs for nearly 6 miles to Ace Gap. When you finish this trail, if you travel another 4 miles, you’ll be headed toward the Abram’s Creek area.

3. Abrams Falls Trail

This is one of the moderate trail hikes in the Smoky Mountains. It’s a 5 mile roundtrip hike that leads to a waterfall. Abrams Falls is only a 20 foot waterfall, but it’s one of the most powerful in the national park. The trail to this Cades Cove waterfall is fairly rocky and dirt-packed, so you’ll want to make sure to wear comfortable hiking shoes for your visit.

Visitors can access the trail from the Cades Cove Loop Road stop number 10. It is a relatively short, but challenging hike, to the Cades Cove waterfall from the number 10 stop.

4. Rich Mountain Loop

This hiking trailhead is located right at Cades Cove. Once you enter the gate, the trailhead is approximately 25 feet ahead on the right side of the road. This is a popular trail for anyone who doesn’t want to drive the 11 mile Cades Cove Loop Road because the trail follows a similar path. You can see all of the history of Cades Cove from the Rich Mountain Loop Trail. It’s approximately an 8.5 mile roundtrip hike.

5. Rocky Top/Thunderhead

wildflowers in the smoky mountains

The Rocky Top hiking trailhead is located at the Cades Cove picnic area. The trail is absolutely stunning and has beautiful mountainside views with plenty of wildflowers to see in the spring. Keep in mind that this trail is considered strenuous in difficulty, so it’s not recommended for beginner hikers or families with small children.

6. Cades Cove Nature Trail

If you’re looking for an easy hike, try the Cades Cove Nature Trail! It’s a great trail if you’re driving around the loop and want to get out to stretch your legs. Along the trail, you’ll find remains of a chestnut grove. The chestnuts may be gone, but you can still see the beautiful sight of the oaks, dogwoods, sourwood and pine trees.

More Cades Cove Hiking Trails

These are just some of the many great Cades Cove trails you should try while you’re in town. You can also hike Spence Field and to Lynn Camp Prong along the Middle Prong Trail. There are trails for every skill level in the Cades Cove area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

To learn more about Cades Cove hiking trails and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, click here.

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