How do you get to Cades Cove?

From the Smoky Mountain Visitors Center, go two miles to the National Park entrance. Enter the Park and turn right at the Townsend "Y." It is 7 miles on Laurel Creek Road to the entrance of Cades Cove and the scenic 11-mile Loop Road. Information on Cades Cove can be found in our hiking listings!

We are here in Townsend for the day. What can we do?

There's plenty to do.

  • You can take a tour of Tuckaleechee Caverns to see the "underground" Smokies.
  • You can tour the Little River Railroad Museum and learn more about Townsend's history through rail.
  • Rent a bike to tour the "Shadows of the Past" 11-mile loop around Townsend.
  • Take a driving tour along Foothills Parkway to see beautiful vistas of the Great Smoky Mountains. There's a one-line walking trail to Look Rock.
  • Tour Cades Cove and visit the Mill at Cades Cove Visitor Center. Also, take a short walk and view the many cascades along the Middle Prong in Tremont.
  • Enjoy a horseback ride to see beautiful waterfalls and enjoy the beauty of the mountains.

What hike would you suggest?

We have many hikes available, inside and outside of the Park. They vary in length and difficulty. You can see the many options for hikes here.

Where can we eat lunch?

Townsend has unique restaurants to choose from. You have plenty of options, from a simple, light lunch to gourmet. Find the restaurant for you here!

What activities do you have for children?

Townsend is a major gateway into the National Park, with plenty of activities for children. Take a tour of Cades Cove and hike in the Park. In Townsend, visit Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center where you can see the history of the area with hands-on activities for children to experience life as it was many years ago; Tuckaleechee Caverns, Little River Railroad Museum, or enjoy bicycling on the bike path; and, of course, on a hot day you can tube the Little River. Horseback riding is another exciting pursuit. And, don't forget the ranger-led and Jr. Ranger programs, offered by the Park. 

Where can we rent bikes?

In Townsend at U-Man Power and AJ's Restaurant, and the Cades Cove Store near Cades Cove Campground. They can be found in our biking listing here.

Are pets allowed on Park trails?

Pets are not allowed on Park trails, except on the Gatlinburg and Oconaluftee River trails. Pets must be leashed and under control at your campsite.

Do you need a fishing license? Where can we fish?

Yes, a Tennessee fishing license is required. Fishing is permitted year-round in the Park. If you fish outside the Park, a trout stamp is required. Information on rules and regulations for fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains can be found here

When can we see wildlife? What animals can we expect to see? 

Usually early morning and late afternoon/evening are the best times to view wildlife along the Loop Drive in Cades Cove and on the trails. Bear, deer and wild turkeys are among some of the wildlife. Also, you may see fox, raccoons, skunks, possums, coyotes, birds, butterflies, salamanders, reptiles and other small creatures.

What do you do when you see a bear?

If you see a bear, remain watchful. Do not approach it. Being too close may promote aggressive behavior from the bear, such as running toward you, making loud noises or swatting the ground. The bear is demanding more space. Don't run. Instead, slowly back away without turning away from the bear. For more information on encountering a bear, please click here.