Great Smoky Mountains Natl. Park — Cades Cove is a popular destination among Great Smoky Mountains National Park visitors with opportunities for wildlife sightings, visiting historic buildings, camping and hiking packed along the one-way 11-mile looped road.
One notable trail along the Cades Cove Loop also leads to one of the park's most popular waterfalls. The hike to Abrams Falls is roughly 5 miles roundtrip and rated as moderately difficult steadily gaining over 600 feet in elevation on the way to the falls.
The falls are only 20 feet tall, but the large volume of water continues to attract hikers year after year.
The park asks visitors not to climb on the rocks around the falls as they are slippery and people have fallen in the past.
What to expect on the trail:
Spring and summertime visitors do need to keep the park's vehicle-free Wednesdays in mind. The program runs from May through late September and only allows access to the 11-mile loop to hikers, walkers and cyclists. A parking tag is still required on vehicle-free days to leave a car in the parking lot.
Some tips before you visit:
- Let someone know where you plan to hike, when you plan to be back, what clothes you are wearing and what your car looks like.
- Wear sunscreen and bug spray.
- Dress in layers.
- Pack plenty of water and snacks.
- Take a light source with you (preferably not your phone). The park said the number one reason people have to get rescued in the park is not bringing a light.
- Keep an eye on the weather.
- Pets are not allowed on the trail.
- Be courteous to other park visitors.
- Leave the plants and wildlife alone.
- Have a backup plan if the trail is closed or too busy.
- Check on road closures at twitter.com/smokiesroadsnps.
- Make sure to have a parking tag.