5 Things to Do in Cades Cove Tennessee This Summer

May 30, 2023

Cades Cove is the most popular area in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for a reason! With old farmsteads, hiking trails, waterfalls, and wildlife, it offers endless opportunities for enjoying nature. Here are 5 things you should do in Cades Cove Tennessee this summer:

1. Hike to a Waterfall

Hiking to Abrams Falls is an experience that everyone should do at least once! Just over 5 miles roundtrip, this moderately hard hike is well worth the time and energy because of the 20-ft cascading falls at the end. Since it attracts so many people each day, try to get there as early as possible to avoid the most crowds. You won’t regret seeing the idyllic scenery for yourself!

2. Bike the Cades Cove Loop

biking in cades coveDid you know that Wednesdays are vehicle-free days on the Cades Cove Loop? Take advantage of that and enjoy the fresh mountain air by biking the 11-mile loop! You can either bring your own bike or rent one at the Cades Cove Campground Store. There are plenty of areas to pull off for breaks, including the Cades Cove Visitors Center!

3. Check out the Cades Cove Visitors Center

Located about halfway through the scenic loop is the Cades Cove Visitors Center. Stretch your legs, use the restroom, and browse the bookstore and gift shop for hiking trail information and souvenirs. Just outside the facility are two must-see historic sites! The John Cable Mill is a fully operating grist mill, the only one left in the area. You may even see a volunteer actually grinding corn and willing to talk about the history behind the mill! The other historic site nearby is the Becky Cable House where Rebecca Cable lived until 1940. 

4. Tour Historic Sites 

cades cove methodist churchCades Cove Tennessee is full of homesteads and churches to explore. The John Oliver Cabin is a short hike on the Rich Mountain Loop. Close by is the Primitive Baptist Church which was built in 1887. After that, you’ll find the Methodist Church with two front doors, so that men could enter and sit on one side of the church, and the women and children on the other take your time and soak it all in. Keep in mind some r side. Other sites we recommend looking for are the Carter Shields Cabin and the Tipton Place, where the unique cantilever barn is located!

5. Walk the Cades Cove Nature Trail

The Cades Cove Nature Trail is one of the most low-impact hiking trails; however, it’s also one of the most beautiful! Located just one mile past the Visitors Center, it’s an easy 2 miles of peaceful scenery where you’ll be able to observe plant and animal life in their natural habitat. While it’s a relatively short trail, it’s usually not crowded so you can take your time and soak it all in. Keep in mind these tips for observing wildlife, like not approaching them, but most importantly, do not feed them!

Throughout your time in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you’ll also find an abundance of wildflowers such as mountain laurels, black-eyed susans, lady slippers, and more! Find out about the best wildflower hikes in the Smoky Mountains and plan to visit Cades Cove Tennessee this summer!