3 Smoky Mountain Hiking Trails Near Cades Cove You Have to Try

December 22, 2021

One of the most popular places in the Smoky Mountains is Cades Cove. Cades Cove is a great place to get beautiful views of the mountains, see historic buildings, and observe wildlife like black bears, salamanders, and wild turkeys. While Cades Cove has its own trails for you to try, there are even more trails close to the area that are worth checking out too! Here are 3 Smoky Mountain hiking trails that you may want to explore near Cades Cove:

1. Lead Cove Trail

If you are looking for a short hike, Lead Cove Trail is located close to Townsend, TN and leads to both Spence Field and Bote Mountain Trail. This trail is 1.8 miles but does get a little steep along the way. Lead Cove Trail is one of the few trails that allows for horseback riding. Taking this trail will also lead you past the spot where Tipton Place, a cabin that belonged to Gibson Tipton, once stood. At the end of the trail, you can catch a view of Scott Mountain before you return back to the trailhead on the same path.

2. Cooper Road Trail

Pair of HikersWant to spend a day or two in and around Cades Cove? Cooper Road Trail is one trail you can’t miss out on hiking! Cooper Road Trail is located right off Cades Cove Loop Road and is a little over 10 miles. A cool fact about this Smoky Mountain trail is that it used to be a former Indian trail that was the main path into Cades Cove. As you take on this hike, you’ll have the chance to cross several creeks, where you can find wildflowers if you hike the trail in the spring. Cooper Road Trail also offers connections to over 5 other trails along the way, including Little Bottoms Trail that leads to another famous spot — Abrams Falls!

3. Ace Gap Trail

A 5.6 mile trek, Ace Gap Trail is another trail not too far from Townsend with a trailhead along Rich Mountain Road. Ace Gap Trail is a perfect trail to see the leaves changing colors during fall in the Smoky Mountains! As you follow this mostly level trail, you’ll see a path to Bull Cave, a 420-foot deep cave that got its name after a bull fell into it during a time when cattle often passed through the area. The cave is open to explorers but only those who have special permits and equipment. Finally, an old Little River Lumber Company railroad bed crosses over the trail right before you get to the trail’s end at Ace Gap.

Visiting the area in and around Cades Cove is a great way to spend some time in the Smoky Mountains! The next time you go, add one of the trails above or a Smoky Mountain hiking trail in Cades Cove to your list. Still deciding if and when you want to go on your first or next hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Check out one of these visitor centers to get started!