When visiting Gatlinburg, TN – the most often recommended part of the park is Cades Cove.
Cades Cover is the most popular destination to visit in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for many reasons. This resplendent valley with over 6,800 acres was once a popular hunting ground for the Cherokee Indians. Nestled between majestic mountains, Cades Cove gives visitors the opportunity to view a plethora of wildlife such as: white-tail deer, black bear, raccoon, turkeys, woodchucks, and much more. This special valley also has a deep cultural history, and visitors can tour restored historic sites such as historic churches, homesteads, and mills to get a taste of daily life in historical Appalachia.
Visitors to Cades Cove can enjoy a motor tour along the 11-mile one-way road that circles the valley. Visitors can also bike this loop road or ride horses along certain trails through the valley for a different type of tour.
There is truly something for everyone in this special spot, a destination, not to be missed on your next visit to the Great Smoky Mountains.
Biking Cades Cove
For visitors that want to experience Cades Cove’s wonder at a closer vantage point biking is a great way to tour the valley. Bask in the mountain breeze as you pedal along spotting mountain critters. Visitors can rent bicycles from the Cades Cove Campground Store starting in April through the fall. (For more information call 865-448-9034). You can haul your bikes easily from Elk Springs Resort Gatlinburg cabins as we are a short 30 minute drive to the area.
From your bike you can take in this broad valley, stop at historic sites, and ride at your own pace. For those who aren’t sure if they can pedal the entire 11-mile loop, Sparks and Hyatt Lane cut across the cove to shorten the trip.
For a truly magical morning, rise early on a Wednesday or Saturday morning and ride the Cades Cove Loop minus the car traffic. From the second week in May through late September Cades Cove Loop Road is closed to automobiles from 7-10 am. This peaceful way to cruise the trail is like no other and not to be missed.
**Bicycles can be used on the Cades Cove Loop Road and other paved areas only, they can’t be taken off trail.
For the cowboys in your clan, Cades Cove Riding Stables offers guided horseback tours through the cove. If riding in the saddle is not your cup of tea, they also offer carriage and hayrides through the park. These tours include an informed and friendly guide to point out wildlife and give you a little bit of history along the way.
For more information visit: http://www.cadescovestables.com
Historic sites not to miss on your valley tour:
John and Lurany Oliver were one of the first families to settle in the Cades Cove. This cabin, which stands fifty yards in front the original Oliver Cabin, was actually the honeymoon cabin built for their children when they first married.
Cades Cove Primitive Baptist Church-
Religion was a big part of life on the frontier, and until the creation of this church residents of Cades Cove had to travel through the Smokies to attend services in Millers and Wears Cove. The Cades Cove Baptist Church was established in 1827 though the congregation actually met in a log structure until the A-framed church was constructed in 1887.
Elijah Oliver Place
This homestead includes the Elijah Oliver Cabin, barn, corn crib and springhouse. Elijah, son of John and Lurany Oliver, was born in the original Oliver cabin. After marrying he moved his bride to this area of Cades Cove and began building his own home that visitors can view today.
Cable Mill Historic Area and Visitor Center
A popular spot on the Cades Cove Loop tour, visitors can visit the historic mill as well as other historic buildings that were actually relocated to this spot by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This area also boasts the Visitors Center and store as well as restrooms.
John P. Cable Mill
This early grist mill used water as its power source to grind grain. Early residents of Cades Cove built water mills and offered to grind their neighbors’ grain for a small fee. These mills were much more powerful than the tub mills that most frontiersmen used. Water mills could grind not only cornmeal, but wheat, something tub mills were incapable of. Visitors to John P. Cable Mill April-October can actually will experience a function mill and learn about the important role they played in the lives of those who once lived in Cades Cove.
Henry Whitehead Place
One of the nicer cabins in Cades Cove, the Whitehead Cabin boasts a brick chimney, something very rare for cabins on the frontier. Henry Whitehead built this cabin for his wife, Matilda. In order to have one of the first brick chimneys on the Cove, the Whiteheads had to make their own bricks. They gathered clay from the surrounding soil, put it into molds, and then fired the bricks to make them durable. The rest of the cabin was constructed with square sawed logs, also a luxury for their time, which better insulated a home. The Matlida and Henry Whitehead cabin is the only square-sawed log home to remain in Cades Cove, just 20 minutes from Gatlinburg and located in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.