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Posted on 4/6/2022

The 5 Best Cades Cove Hiking Trails


1. Cades Cove Nature Trail

Easy, short and filled with chances to spot wildlife, the Cades Cove Nature Trail is a two-mile circle, so you end right back where you started. Look for the trailhead about seven miles from the entrance to the Cades Cove loop road. Cades Cove is a valley dotted with historic buildings and rich with wildlife including bears, wild turkeys, and deer. The nature trail, suitable for all ages, is known for native plants and animals.


2. Beard Cane Trail

This nearly flat trail follows Beard Cane Creek as it threads between two mountains. At just over four miles round trip, the easy (though sometimes muddy!) trail is a good starter hike for children. Look for vividly colored fall leaves and spring wildflowers. This is a popular trail for bird lovers, so bring binoculars and introduce the kids to birding.


3. Abrams Falls Trail

Though Abrams Falls is only 20 feet high, the sheer volume of white water crashing over the rocks creates a memorable destination. The moderately difficult trail is a five-mile round trip through forests of pine, oak, and hemlock. Watch for rhododendrons blooming in spring. A pool at the base of the falls makes a great backdrop for photos, but do not enter the water–this spot has exceptionally dangerous, hidden currents.


4. Gregory Bald Trail

A “bald” is a high-elevation mountain meadow, a level oasis among the peaks. Gregory Bald is the goal of this nine-mile round trip hike, rated strenuous. The payoff for your hike is the stunning display of colorful flame azaleas at Gregory Bald in late spring or the abundance of wild blueberries in late summer. Bears love blueberries, so keep a sharp eye out and keep your distance.


5. Rich Mountain Loop

At just under nine miles, this loop hike takes you through woods and clearings spangled with violets, black-eyed Susans, daisies, and thousands more wildflowers. Stop at the historical John Oliver Cabin to see how early settlers lived. You’ll hike along creeks, ascend Rich Mountain and head back down some steep slopes, so this trail is rated strenuous.

After your hike, reward yourself with a soak in the hot tub at your rental cabin. Reserve your Smoky Mountains vacation cabin now.

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