Cades Cove is the most popular auto tour and the most popular spot in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As an auto tour, Cades Cove is second to none. As a place just to go experience the beauty of the Smokies and hang out in nature, there might not be a better place in the southeast. Formerly a thriving Appalachian community, Cades Cove quickly shows you why people chose to call this area home.
Before the founding of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cades Cove was a typical mountain community. Small farms, cattle herds, churches, all of the usual buildings and community areas that a valley community might need were located in Cades Cove. The first settlers to the area were the Oliver’s. John Oliver, a War of 1812 veteran, came to the area. And while he and his wife Lucretia had a rough first winter the fertile land and the protected nature of the valley brought in many more settlers. At its height, in the early 1800s, the population of Cades cove was more then 650 people. There were quite a few farmsteads and there was even a post office with the Sevierville Post office running a weekly route to the cove for mail service.
The people of Cades Cove farmed the land, fellowshipped with each other and were happy for the most part. Then in the early 1900s, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park went from being an idea to being a reality. The people of Cades Cove were the most resistant to the creation of the park and to their inclusion in the park. In 1927 the General Assembly of the state of Tennessee declared that Cades Cove would be included in the GSMNP. The residents of the Cove fought the inclusion but in the end they were forced out of the area. In the end, some of the residents were given a lifetime lease. In fact the last resident out of Cades Cove was Kermit Caughron who passed way in 1995 and his home was dismantled soon after that.
Today you get to tour a Cades Cove that looked much as it did in the early 1900s. The eleven mile loop road around the Cove gives you access to all the historic structures, hiking trails and of course the wildlife that the cove is famous for. Before you enter the Cove you come to the riding staples, a picnic area and the campground and store. Cades Cove has it all.
A few tips for visiting Cades Cove
- Bring a picnic. You may find you are there longer then you thought.
- Allow yourself at least two hours to go around the loop road during season and on the weekends. It is only 11 miles but it can take a long time when it is crowded.
- Stop at the Campground store and get ice cream if they are open.
- On Wednesday and Saturday morning the loop road is closed to cars to let the bicyclists have fun on a closed course.