Have you ever wondered where the two roads that branch out of Cades Cove go?
Here is where you can find these two roads in Cades Cove:
- Rich Mountain Road – Before the halfway point around Cades Cove, and the entrance is across from the Cades Cove Missionary Baptist Church.
- Parsons Branch Road – At the halfway point around the loop road, at the same intersection that takes you into the Cades Cove Visitors Center.
But, let’s talk about Rich Mountain Road. Once you have gotten to the turn off across from the Cades Cove Missionary Baptist church, you are going to find yourself on a dirt and gravel road. Be ready for a bumpy ride but also be ready to get even further away from civilization than you were in Cades Cove. This trip is going to take you up Rich Mountain and then back down into Townsend proper.
This is a rustic road. It is closed during the winter and if there has been a lot of rain , it is impassable during any time of the year. Parts of it are prone to being washed out but it is a great experience and you get to see parts of the GSMNP and the Smoky Mountains that you will not get to any other way. Now that you have been warned, take the road.
The road ascends into the wilderness. Don’t expect to go straight up or straight down ut do expect a very windy, twisting drive into the mountains. This is a one way road, so you are not going to meet an oncoming traffic. What you are going to meet are some of the most spectacular views that the Smokies have to offer. You will also get to see plenty of wildlife. Now, that being said, remember that you are not in Cades Cove anymore. The animals along Rich Mountain Road are not quite as tame and they will run a lot easier then the animals in Cades Cove. Once you have hit the top of the mountain and start your descent you are going to cross several streams and see plenty of cascades and waterfalls. You are in some areas that see a lot less travel then other areas of the Smokies.
One of the most photographed scenes from Rich Mountain Road is a small Baptist Church that you can see int he valley from the top of the mountain. During the fall, as you can see from the photo is gorgeous. If you look in some of the galleries around the area, you will find many artists have chosen to reproduce this scene in their artwork.
Rich Mountain Road is definitely worth a trip the next time you are in Cades Cove. Make sure you are prepared for the trip and take this rustic road into the mountains.