|Cades Cove Loop - Smoky Mountains Auto Tour|
Cades Cove is one of the best places in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to see wildlife. While traveling the eleven mile loop, Jay has seen bears, deer, coyote, fox, and turkeys. The attraction to the 6,800 acre valley known as Cades Cove is not only the animals, but the picturesque scenery and old homesteads. During trips in the summer chances are fairly high you will see a bear and its cubs. Over several trips in the summer, Jay has seen bears up in trees, roaming in the pastures near Sparks Lane, and even right next to the old Tipton Homestead. When driving the loop and there is wildlife ahead, traffic sometime comes to a standstill. Usually this is a "bear-jam" as onlookers stop to take pictures and view with binoculars. The deer in the area are plentiful. It is common when driving the loop to see between 40 and 100 deer in the fields, pastures, and woods. The best time to see wildlife in Cades Cove is right after sunrise or a little prior to sunset. For the most part, drivers are courteous when driving the loop by pulling off to the side of the road, allowing other motorists to pass. The loop itself is a one-way road with a couple two way roads (Sparks Lane & Hyatt Lane) that cut from one end of the loop to the other should you want to exit.
Points of interest and landmarks in Cades Cove
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View Cades Cove Auto Loop Map (pdf - 742kb)
Bike Riding in Cades Cove
On Wednesday and Saturday mornings from May through September, Cades Cove Loop Road is open only to bicyclists, walkers, and concession-operated hay wagons. Automobiles are prohibited on the loop road on these mornings until 10:00 a.m. Bikes may be rented at the Cades Cove Store near the campground at a rate per hour.
Camping in Cades Cove
Camping is allowed in Cades Cove. The campground consists of 159 campsites including some with wheelchair accessibility. The sites at the campground can accomodate trailers and RV's up to 40 feet. The campground includes running water and toilets, but does not have showers. At the campsites, there are picnic tables, firerings, and lantern hangers. When staying in Cades Cove do not store food in your tent as bears are common in Cades Cove. Firewood from the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, New Jersey, and New York can not be brought into the National Park. The USDA has quarantined firewood from these states to prevent the spread of higly destructive insects that may be living in the wood.
Wildlife in Cades Cove
Cades Cove is the most likely place you will find a bear in the Smoky Mountains National Park. Other types of wildlife you may encounter are:
Rich Mountain Road Views
During your travels along the loop you will come upon Rich Mountain Rd. on your right (next to the Missionary Baptist Church). This road is a seven mile one way road that will take you into Townsend, TN. Please note this road is gravel with many switchback curves and takes quite a long time to travel - approximately one hour. Rich Mountain Road was built in the 1820s following an old Indian trace into Cades Cove. Points of interest include a stand of shagbark hickory, a species rarely found in the Smoky Mountains. One of the most popular location for photographs in the Smoky Mountains is from Rich Mountain Road. In the early travels on your right is a clearing where views can be seen of Thunderhead Mountain and the Primitive Baptist Church (see photo at left). Jay has also seen quite a bit of wildlife on this road including two bears, a fox, and coyote. Once you have driven past the view of the Primitive Baptist Church, there are not many views of interest as you make your way toward Townsend. This road is closed during the winter.
Abrams Falls is a 5 mile roundtrip hike of easy to moderate difficulty. The trailhead is located in the Cades Cove Loop. The falls is a wide falls about 20 foot tall plunging into a deep pool. This pool area is popular with swimmers in the summer and fisherman whenever people are not around. The hike is summarized well from another website:
Fishing in Cades Cove
One of the best places in the entire Smoky Mountains National Park to fish is Abrams Creek which flows through Cades Cove. Access to the prime fishing portions of Abrams Creek can be reached via the Abrams Falls trailhead in Cades Cove or by taking the Foothills Parkway in Walland. The "horseshoe" bend in Abrams Creek is one of the most prolific areas for fishing in the Smokies. Jay has fished Abrams Creek by entering from both Cades Cove and from the Foothills Parkway. If you choose the Foothills Parkway portion it is a long hike to get to the trout waters. The trail for Abrams Falls leads away from Abrams Creek in a lot of places, so hiking through thick underbrush is necessary to gain access to Abrams Creek.
Cades Cove Information Sources
Books About Cades Cove
Legends of Cades Cove and the Smokies Beyond (by Vic Weals)
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