Cades Cove is one of the most visited attractions of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is a lush green valley surrounded by mountains and there are many historic buildings from 18th and 19th centuries. The valley is very scenic and wild life can be spotted, including black bear. The nearest town is Townsend in Tennessee.
You can drive along a 11-mile one-way loop road around the cove. Traffic will be heavy during the tourist seasons in summer and fall and on weekends year-round. It may take up to 4-6 hrs to complete the entire loop. You can park your car at designated areas and visit the historic buildings which include a grist mill, a variety of barns, three churches, and a marvelous collection of log homes. Peak Fall is generally between last week of October and first week of November.
Cades Cove Visitor Center is open daily. There are picnic areas along a beautiful stream and restrooms. A campground with 159 sites is open year round in Cades Cove. Numerous trails originate in the cove, including the five-mile roundtrip trail to Abrams Falls and the short Cades Cove Nature Trail.
We visited Cades Cove on Oct 18th, 2009 and it was wonderful. It had snowed on the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina & Tennessee the previous day. We could see mountain peaks covered in snow and beautiful fall colors beneath the snow covered peaks. It was a marvelous sight and we enjoyed every minute though it took us around 4 hours to complete the 11 mile loop.
Here are some photos from our trip to Cades Cove.