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Cades Cove Area Hikes

Below is a list of hiking trails in and around the Cades Cove area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Keep in mind that some camp sites and all back country shelters require reservations which can be obtained by calling 423.436.1231. Also note that a backcountry permit is required for all backcountry camping and can be obtained at the Cades Cove Amphitheatre located across from the Cades Cove Ranger Station. All of the hikes listed here can be modified for longer trips by taking adjoining trails. Always carry snacks and water and be prepared for cooler temperatures as you gain elevation.

View of Cades Cove from Rich Mountain Rd
Spence Field - strenuous - 11 miles, 3,000' elevation gain.

The trail begins at the back of the Cades Cove Picnic area via the Anthony Creek Trail and follows Anthony Creek and the Bote Mountain Trail up to the Appalachian Trail (AT). The trail gains over 3,000 feet in elevation from the picnic area to the AT. Due to the elevation difference be prepared for cooler temperatures near the top.

Parking: It's best to park in the parking lot across from the Cades Cove ranger station and walk to the back of the picnic area.

Rich Mountain Loop - strenuous - 7.5-mile loop, 1,800' elevation gain.

This trail begins at the beginning of the Cades Cove Loop Road just past the interpretive display building. It provides scenic views of Cades Cove and the Smoky mountains.

Parking: Park at the orientation shelter just before the one-way loop road begins. The trail head is located just past the start of the one-way Cades Cove loop road, on the right hand side of the road. If this parking lot is full, park across from the Cades Cove Ranger Station.


Cooper Road Trail - level and easy.

The trail head is about 4 miles from the entrance to Cades Cove loop. This old wagon road is a great, level hike that sees few hikers.
Parking: Road side pull-off near trail head.


Abrams Falls - moderate - 5 miles

The trail begins at the Abrams Falls parking lot at the west end of Cades Cove Loop Road. After crossing a bridge over Abrams Creek, the trail leads through masses of rhododendron and then begins climbing. It eventually leads to a spectacular 20 foot high water falls with a large pool at the bottom. This is the most hiked trail in the Cades Cove area and you will see lots of hikers out to the falls. Use the same trail to return to your vehicle.

Parking: the Abrams Falls parking area is located in the back of Cades Cove, 4.9 miles from the entrance. After crossing the small wooden bridge turn right at the next gravel road and drive to the end (aprox 1/2 mile).


Gregory Ridge Trail - strenuous, 12 miles with 3,000' elevation gain.

The hike to Gregory Bald via the Gregory Ridge Trail is probably the most strenuous and scenic in the Cades Cove area. The first 2 miles leads you through a virgin forest with some Tulip Poplars reaching 8' in diameter. Campsite #13 is near Gregory bald and requires reservations.

Parking: parking area at the end of Forge Creek Road. At the very back of the Cades Cove Loop Road is the Visitor center where the loop-road takes a turn to the left. Forge Creek Road is straight ahead. The parking area is about 2 miles from the visitor center.


Cades Cove Nature Trail - easy

Located approximately 1 mile past the Cades Cove visitor Center, the Cades Cove Nature trail is easy enough for just about everyone. A brochure is available at the trailhead and will help orient you as to what you will see along the trail.

Parking: parking area located at trailhead, on the right hand side of Cades Cove loop-road, about 1 mile past Cades Cove Visitor Center.


Related Links & Resources:
Smoky Mountain Historical Pictures
Cades Cove Preservation
Smoky Mountain N.P. Bird Checklist
Burchfield Cemetery - Cades Cove


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