Cades Cove Loop Road Tour - My Smoky Mountain Park

Cades Cove Loop Road Tour in Great Smoky Mountains NP

A photo tour of the Cades Cove historic community, its log cabins, churches, and grist mill, inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
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Between this historic community's settlement in the early 1800s and being annexed as part of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the 1930s, up to 700 people lived and worked in Cades Cove. It was a farming community with log cabin homes, churches, stores, and its own grist mill that ground meal. Most of the buildings are now gone but the dozen or so that remain are a tribute to a way of life in 1800s Appalachia. The one-way, 11-mile road has many stops to get out of the car and learn about American history.

Enter via Laurel Creek Road

The most popular way to enter the Cades Cove Road is at its northeast corner where it becomes a one-way, counter-clockwise loop. At this entry point, there is a quick left-turn to get to the campground and store before entering the loop.

Sparks Lane

Two-way road that cuts across the loop. This road is often used as a shortcut when bicycling or to get back to the campground and picnic area.

Sparks Lane in Cades Cove

Sparks Lane in Cades Cove

John Oliver Place

John Oliver was a veteran of the War of 1812. Although he did not have the first legal land title in Cades Cove (that honor goes to the Tiptons), John Oliver and his wife Lurena Frazier were the first permanent European settlers in 1818. The couple struggled through their first winter but survived by eating dried pumpkin given to them by friendly Cherokees. The next spring, the Olivers got a hear of cattle and two milk cows which made their lives much easier. The Oliver farm remained in the family until the Cove became part of the national park, more than 100 years after they settled in the community.

The John Oliver Cabin in Cades Cove

The John Oliver Cabin in Cades Cove

Primitive Baptist Church

Turn left on a short lane to visit the church. The Primitive Baptist Church was established in 1827 by Euro-American settler. The crudely-built original log church was replaced in 1887 by the one now standing. During the Civil War, the church closed because its membership were Union people surrounded by Rebels in the community.

The interior of the Primitive Baptist Church at Cades Cove

The interior of the Primitive Baptist Church at Cades Cove

Methodist Church

In the 1920s, this church was built by J. D. McCampbell in 115 days for $115.00. McCampbell was a blacksmith, carpenter, and the church's minister. The original log building was replaced with the current one in 1902. As with the Primitive Baptist Church, America's Civil War divided the church. So much so that a second church, Hopewell Methodist Church, was built on the opposite side of the Cove for half of the congregation. That church no longer stands.

Methodist Church in Cades Cove by Billy Hathorn via Wikimedia Commons

Methodist Church in Cades Cove by Billy Hathorn via Wikimedia Commons

Hyatt Lane

Two-way road that cuts across the loop. This road was originally part of a Cherokee trail.

Hyatt Lane in Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Hyatt Lane in Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Rich Mountain Road

A two-way road that exits the loop. This road is closed during the winter. In season, the road leads to the town of Townsend.

Missionary Baptist Church

Yet another bit of historic church turmoil, the Missionary Baptist Church was formed by a group of parishioners that were expelled from the Primitive Baptist Church. Why? Because they believed in missionary work. This church too closed during the Civil War and reopened after the war was over. The church closed for good in 1944.

The interior of the Missionary Baptist Church in Cades Cove

The interior of the Missionary Baptist Church in Cades Cove

Cooper Road Trail

An old wagon trail now used for hiking.

Elijah Oliver Place

Elijah was the son of John Oliver (previously mentioned), and was born in Cades Cove.

The Elijah Oliver Cabin in Cades Cove

The Elijah Oliver Cabin in Cades Cove

Abrams Falls Trailhead

This 5-mile round trip trail ends at the 18-foot high Abrams Falls named after a Cherokee chief whose village was downstream. The pool at the bottom of the falls has an undertow, so don't swim there.

Abrams Falls. Photo by Mike Duffy

Abrams Falls. Photo by Mike Duffy

John P. Cable Grist Mill and Visitors Center

Tour a historic, water-powered gristmill where settlers ground their corn and wheat into flour. Located along the Cades Cove loop road; open daily March to October and on weekends in November. You'll also find a visitor center with restrooms, a bookstore, and a gift shop here.

The John P. Cable Grist Mill in Cades Cove inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The John P. Cable Grist Mill in Cades Cove inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Cades Cove Visitor Center at the Cable Mill in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Cades Cove Visitor Center at the Cable Mill in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Cades Cove Nature Trail

Henry Whitehead Place

After Henry Whitehead's wife died, he courted Matilda Shields, a single mother abandoned by her husband. After their marriage, Henry built Matilda this large home to raise her children along with his three daughters. This house is the last "transitional" home still standing in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was built by a process that is half log home and frame construction using sawed lumber.

The Henry Whitehead Cabin in Cades Cove

The Henry Whitehead Cabin in Cades Cove

Dan Lawson Place

Dan Lawson was Peter Cable's son-in-law. His home is unusual for the area and time period because it had a chimney built of bricks. The bricks were built on site during construction.

The Dan Lawson Place in Cades Cove

The Dan Lawson Place in Cades Cove

Tipton Place

"Colonel Hamp" Tipton's daughters Miss Lucy and Miss Lizzie, lived here. Both were local school teachers.

The cantilevered barn at Tipton Place in Cades Cove

The cantilevered barn at Tipton Place in Cades Cove

Carter Shields Cabin

Crippled during the Civil War, Carter Shields moved away and came back to the Cove a couple of times. He only stayed in this home for 11 years starting in 1910.

The Carter Shields Cabin in Cades Cove

The Carter Shields Cabin in Cades Cove

Cades Cove Campground and Picnic Area

The perfect end to your Cades Cove Loop Tour. Here you'll find a picnic area, campground, bike rentals, horseback riding stable, amphitheater, general store, and restrooms.

Cades Cove Campground

Cades Cove Campground

Cades Cove Picnic Area

Cades Cove Picnic Area

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