To get to Cades Cove you will need to enter from old State Highway 73 which turns into Laurel Creek Rd. Even the scenery entering this loop from the main road is just awesome.
Cades Cove is an 11-mile scenic loop that will take you anywhere from 2-4 hours to tour. It could actually take much longer if you decide to walk the trails. At the entrance, you can pick up an information booklet for a nominal fee of $1.00.
From May through late September the 11-mile loop is open to foot and bicycle traffic only until 10 am on Saturdays and Wednesdays. For automobile traffic, the loop is open from sunrise to sunset every day weather permitting.
When driving this loop, you will come across historic buildings, wildlife, and great scenery. There are numerous cut-offs where you can pull off and enjoy them without blocking those behind you. We traveled the loop in April during midweek so traffic was busy but not terrible. My understanding is that during the summer especially on weekends the loop can become quite congested.
There is a gift shop, bookstore, restrooms, and Cable Mill Historic Area display. The parking area is free and you can spend over an hour just in this one area alone!!!
Something to keep in mind. There is a lot of animal activity either early in the morning or at dusk. We were there from the afternoon until dusk. We saw some wildlife throughout the loop but our favorite came near the end. As we were coming to the end, we saw a ton of cars and a ranger standing by in this one area.
We came across this scenario on a historic trail in Tennessee and we knew exactly what this meant… BEARS!!! That is exactly what it was. Of course, we pulled over and grabbed some pictures ourselves.
One last tip is if you are going to spend the day here pack a lunch or dinner. Bring a cooler and some drinks and snacks. If you do this you will not feel like you have to rush through the loop. Take your time and enjoy this beautiful scenic and historic loop.
Our Date of Visit: April 5, 2018