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Cades Cove is one of the most popular and visited sections of the Great Smoky Mountains. The cove resembles a long bowl surrounded by mountains. Access is via a park road through a pass. The closest access to the cove is via Rt 321 from Maryville through Townsend, Tennessee. A longer, but very scenic route, is to enter the park at Gatlinburg via Rt 441 and make the first turn onto Fighting Creek Gap Road.
There is a long—about 11 miles—loop road that winds through the cove past precolonial farms, historic buildings, and a small village area with a shop, old barn, grist mill, and other authentic period structures. They also have demonstrations of molasses making, from pressing sugar cane to bottling the product, which they also sell.
Wildlife is usually abundant—we see turkey and deer on almost every trip any time of the year. Once in a while we will encounter a traffic standstill. About the only thing that will make tourists stop en masse is a bear sighting.
There are many hiking trails along the loop road, and throughout the park. At the end of many of the trails is a scenic view, a waterfall, or a historic structure. Maps and information on all of the trails is available at the park office and store, and online.