A Visit to Cades Cove

Friday evening, my husband asked if I would be interested in going out to Cades Cove on Saturday. He texted my son and daughter-in-law to see if they’d like to go, and they said yes.

Cades Cove is a valley in the Great Smokey Mountain National Park. A one-way road forms an eleven-mile loop around the valley, and several historic buildings are placed at intervals around the loop.

The drive up was gorgeous as we got closer to Cades Cove, with the beauitful fall foliage and a stream rippling over rocks alongside the road.

Jim and I drove up separately from Jason and Mittu, and there was some misunderstanding about where we were to meet. There’s no cell phone service in the area, so we had no way to contact each other. We knew they were behind us a bit, so we weren’t worried when they didn’t show up right away. As more time passed, however, we became concerned that either something happened, or we were in two different places. Jim took off on foot to check a couple of places he thought they might be (walking because he didn’t think he’d be able to get out of one area without following the 11-mile loop). I stayed put in case they came to where we had parked and prayed much that we’d all find each other. Finally Jason and Mittu spotted Jim walking as they were driving around trying to find us.

So we were delayed setting off by about an hour. We drove to the picnic area to eat the lunch we had packed. The picnic area was very nice, with flat walkways between tables and easy access to restrooms. There was a little stream on both sides of the picnic area.

Watching Timothy brought back memories of camping when the kids were younger. There’s something about a stick, rocks, and running water that can keep a little boy fascinated for hours.

At one point Timothy asked, “Are we camping?” He was excited at the prospect, because Granddad has often talked about things we’ll do when we go camping. We told him it was kind of like camping, except the sleeping in a tent part.

Jim has been collecting lot of camping equipment over several birthdays, Christmases, etc. He brought stuff to make coffee on the grills at the park. As it was a very chilly day, that cup of coffee was one of the best I’d had! It really helped take the chill off.

Then we all piled in our van and set off on the loop, following a string of other cars.

Fall is one of the most popular times to go. And we soon saw why: the scenery was gorgeous. We took scores of photos. Here are just a few:

One of the first buildings we stopped at was a Primitive Baptist Church, which had a cemetery in the back.

Some of the headstones in the cemetery are so old and worn you can hardly read them, but there are a few recent ones. This one was distinctive . . .

We didn’t stop at the next church, but we saw a random family there taking wedding photos. We wondered if they got married there, or came up afterwards, or if they just wanted a bridal shoot there.

About halfway through the loop is a collection of buildings, including a still-working 150-year old grist mill, a blacksmith shop (closed when we were there),a smokehouse, corn crib, barn, and house (and restrooms!)

Timothy thought the water wheel on the mill was “cool” and “awesome.”

In this area, there’s also a little store where Tim tried out ranger gear.

There are eighteen places one can stop. Some of them are trails that lead to waterfalls and such. Other building were log cabins, with a couple of other churches. We ended up only stopping at those two I mentioned, because it was getting late.

It’s possible to see wildlife in the area, from chipmunks, foxes, raccoons, deer, and bears. We only saw one crow, besides the horses that are available to ride. Probably the time of day we were there (afternoon), the cold, and the busyness all contributed to wildlife keeping their distance. There were strict warnings everywhere to stay at least 50 feet away from wildlife and not to feed them and to clean up any scraps of food so they wouldn’t be attracted.

Over and over through the afternoon, Timothy kept saying it “was such a good day” and “the best day ever.” And I’d have to agree.

I don’t travel well, for a number of reasons, so even short road trips can be problematic. When Jim asked me about going, and I found out it was about an hour away, and it could take 2-4 hours to go around the loop—I was sort of dreading it. But I knew if I asked him to go somewhere I wanted to go, he likely would, even if he wasn’t all that interested. So I wanted to be able to go because he wanted to and for the family outing. I was a bit panicky the night before, but that day God gave me a great calm and helped everything to go well. We’re already talking about trying going back some time. On the drive up and back we also saw other places we’d like to come back and visit some time.

I looked through the booklet about the area while we were there, and I’ve enjoyed reading more about the history of it since.

I’m only sorry it took us so long to go out there! A friend had told me about it a few years ago, but I don’t think I quite understood what it was. I’d highly recommend it if you are in the area and have a few hours. You could spend all day there if you wanted to stop at several of the buildings. But you could probably drive through in a couple of hours if you made no stops. There are also a couple of exits if you don’t want to go through the whole loop. And it’s free!

Have you ever been to Cade’s Cove?

(Sharing with Global Blogging, Senior Salon, Literary Musing Monday, Hearth and Soul, Happy Now)

17 thoughts on “A Visit to Cades Cove

  1. Barbara, Cades Cove is one of my favorite places on earth. I live in Lexington KY so it’s a little over three hours from me just to get there, but it’s always well worth it. It is especially beautiful in the fall and in early April when the wildflowers are in bloom. In addition to the animals that you mentioned, I’ve seen scores of turkeys, a few coyotes and even a wild boar. I’ve heard that there are otters in one of the creeks in the Cove also but I’ve never seen them myself (and I’ve looked!). I’m so glad you got to go and that you were able to enjoy it! Don’t you just feel the presence of God there?

  2. Especially since I’m “grounded,” I really enjoyed going along vicariously on your visit!! What a gorgeous place. I’m glad you made it there, and that you all found each other. At times like that it makes me remember the days we all were without cell phones. Timothy is really growing up — he looks so tall in the one where he’s on his own and standing, looking at the camera. Love the church, the scenery, and all the photos. We’ve been to Smokey Mountains but not Cades Cove — will make note of it to hopefully see another time.

  3. What beautiful photos, Barbara! I’m glad you made the trip well and had a good time. It’s been quite a few years since we’ve driven through Cades Cove. You’re inspiring me to go again. 🙂

  4. We went to Cades Cove one year in April
    for our anniversary.. We didn’t see the lovely fall colors but it was not crowded at all and we did see quite a few deer and wild turkeys. I wanted to tell you that I tried the peanut butter dream cookies–they are delicious!

  5. I love Cades Cove! I’ve not hiked it much but did get to the John Oliver cabin. The “other church” is the only one I’ve stopped at. I keep forgetting the name of it. The graveyard at the church with the two entrances is so fascinating. I have a book of the original settlers of the Cove and I found some of their headstones. I really enjoy the Becky Cable house and the gift shop. I could spend a bundle of money there! I’m glad you were able to go and enjoy it.

  6. I’ve never been there because i’ve never been to TN but it’s (the state) is on my bucket list. I so much want to hike in the Smoky Mountains! LOVE LOVE LOVE your mountain photos!!!

  7. Pingback: Friday’s Fave Five | Stray Thoughts

  8. Thanks for bringing back all these wonderful memories for me through your photos. We visited the Smokey Mountains and Cades Cove a little over ten years ago! We loved it there. My husband always talks about going back, and I wholeheartedly agree. 🙂

  9. Sounds like a wonderful place to visit. I love these kinds of adventures, especially when they are free! You took some lovely photos, the scenery looks gorgeous. And I love how much your grandson enjoyed it all!

  10. Lovely post & what a beautiful family outing Barbara! I live in Australia so no I haven’t visited your country or Cades Cove but the scenery is enticingly breathtaking!

    You’re most welcome to join me in a cuppa at Tea With Jennifer,
    Bless you,
    Jennifer

  11. I have never heard of Cades Cove! Now I will have to put it on my list of places to visit east of the Mississ’ippi (after we move).
    Thanks for the beautiful ‘trip’ and the gorgeous photos.

  12. What a beautiful area for a family outing! Your grandson is a real cutie. I understand your hesitation due to your health issues. I have some too that can be limiting. I’m glad you were able to go and enjoy yourself.

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