Want to find other ways to explore than just driving the Cades Cove Scenic Loop? This beautiful area of the Great Smoky Mountains offers a variety of hiking opportunities, from short, easy treks and waterfall hikes to more difficult trails. So channel your inner explorer and start planning your next adventure to the Smokies with these top hikes near Cades Cove!

1. Cades Cove Nature Trail

About 1 mile past the visitor center is the beginning of the Cades Cove Nature Trail, a loop that’s around 2 miles long and is suitable for all ages. Many don’t even realize this peaceful hike exists! There are plenty of chances to view wildlife, soak in the fresh mountain air, and see wild displays of flowers. You’ll also come across a footbridge crossing a small stream. 

2. Schoolhouse Gap Trail 

hikes near cades coveWant to explore a hidden gem? Check out the Schoolhouse Gap Trail near Cades Cove! It’s a relatively wide and flat trail with little elevation gain, so it’s ideal for families with small children. This hike leads you to the White Oak Sinks area and also features gorgeous wildflowers during the spring and summer. 

3. Rich Mountain Loop 

Another of the incredible Cades Cove hiking trails is Rich Mountain Loop. You can do the entire 8.5-mile roundtrip hike and climb to the top of Cerulean Knob for amazing views from the mountain top, or simply walk a couple of miles and back to admire the gorgeous summer wildflowers and peaceful scenery. You’ll also pass by the John Oliver Cabin, one of the oldest structures in the national park, and towards the end of the hike, you can see Crooked Arm Falls, a small but beautiful 25-foot waterfall. 

4. Spence Field

Spence Field is accessible via the Anthony Creek Trail near the picnic area in Cades Cove. You’ll take this trail to the Bote Mountain Trail and eventually the Appalachian Trail to reach this impressive overlook, providing some of the best views in all of the Smokies! It’s quite a trek, though, at just over 10 miles, so be prepared for an intense, all-day hike. You can also access Spence Field by starting at the Lead Cove Trailhead, also located in the Cades Cove area. 

5. Abrams Falls

abrams falls in cades coveOf course, one of the most popular waterfall hikes in the Smoky Mountains can be found near Cades Cove! The Abrams Falls trail is a moderate 5-mile roundtrip hike and features a large pool below the roaring falls. It’s a great place to catch a glimpse of a salamander or two! Even though the falls themselves are only about 20 feet high, the volume of water rushing down is one of the largest in the national park, so the scene is breathtaking. Plus, the surrounding area is ideal for photos and relaxing, but swimming in the pool, however tempting, is prohibited due to the dangerous currents and undertows. 

These are just a few examples of hikes near Cades Cove that you won’t want to skip the next time you’re visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park! Begin planning your trip and explore the top reasons to start your Smoky Mountain adventure at Crockett’s!