One of the intriguing places to visit in the Smoky Mountains is the Cades Cove Loop. You can travel it by car or bike, seeing various animals in their natural habitat. Many hiking trail heads start along the loop too. You’ll also find plenty of history while you’re here. Look at these 4 things to do along the Cades Cove Loop:
1. Ride Along the Loop
If you’re into biking and want to ride all 11 miles of Cades Cove Loop, go for it! Cars do frequent the loop, so you’ll need to be careful. The best time for biking the loop is Wednesdays and Saturdays before 10 a.m. between May 8th and September 25th since automobiles are prohibited from driving the loop at this time. Driving around the loop is just as fun as biking! You can easily stop at the various sights to get out and look around or to hike one of the trails. You might even find a spot you want to take a picture of your family!
2. Hike Various Trails
Want to see the Cades Cove Loop but also want to go hiking? Plenty of hiking trails start in this area, so you can definitely do both! For something short and sweet that a hiker of any level will love, try the Cades Cove Nature Trail. If you want to see one of the most popular waterfalls, go on the Abrams Falls trail. This 5-mile hike ends with the 20-foot-tall waterfall, and it is considered moderate in difficulty. Expert hikers will enjoy the Rich Mountain Loop trail. You’ll walk past the John Oliver cabin and the Crooked Arm Falls. When hiking this trail in the spring, you’ll also see a ton of varieties of wildflowers. At the top of this trail, you’ll be able to see the remains of the Rich Mountain Fire Tower. You will love the variety of hiking trails throughout the loop!
3. See Wildlife
Any time you’re in the mountains, you will probably see native wildlife. The Cades Cove Loop is definitely a place where animals come out throughout the day. Sometimes deer are out in the meadows grazing in the grass. Bears have been spotted crossing the roads with young cubs in the spring. Snakes, salamanders, and fish swim along the creek in the picnic area. Tons of birds fly around the trees, and you’ll probably see butterflies along the trails. You might even be lucky enough to see nocturnal creatures like possums and raccoons come out during the day!
4. Look at Historic Buildings
Cades Cove has a rich Appalachian history. It is also home to some of the oldest historic buildings in the Smoky Mountains. One of the oldest known buildings is John Oliver’s cabin, which is the first stop along the loop. You can see how the old cabins were built and the surrounding land. A little farther down, there are two churches: the Primitive Baptist Church and the Methodist Church. Another cabin later down is called Elijah Oliver’s Place, which includes a smokehouse, barn, and springhouse. In the Cable Mill Area, you’ll be able to see a working grist mill, a blacksmith shop, and many other buildings. Any history buff will love all these stops along the loop.
Visiting Cades Cove is definitely something that should make your list of things to do in the Smoky Mountains. For more information about the Cades Cove Loop, check out our Cades Cove TN page.