Cades Cove has a lot to offer; primitive homesteads, cantilever barns, churches and wildlife that have become accustomed to seeing human beings. But, it can get crowded in the warm seasons. If you want a more remote adventure and still be able to go by SUV there are two roads that cut through the cove. Parsons Branch Road is the extreme adventure with gravel road, one way very narrow path and it drives through some pretty substantial streams.
Rich Mountain Road is a bit milder. It still is gravel but not as narrow and will only take you through a few washed out small streams. It is generally open from April through mid-November. This alternative view was just an Indian path until 1820. The Cherokee never actually lived in the cove but they often hunted in the area. This road offers 8 miles of views down into Cades Cove.
The entrance is about half way around the Cades Cove Loop across from the Missionary Baptist Church. The road goes up over Rich Mountain to Tuckaleechee Cove and into the quiet side of the Smokies, also known as Townsend. As you ascend to the top of Rich Mountain you will notice the cove open up below and the Primitive Baptist Church will be nestled among the trees in the most picturesque view.
The reds, golds and greens of the deciduous trees and the white church make for maybe the most often photographed scene in the park. As you start down Rich Mountain, water will trickle down some cascades and waterfalls and you will cross a few small streams. That is, if there has been recent rainfall. It will take about an hour, if you stop at the vistas, then you will be tossed back into civilization in Townsend.
Go have an ice cream cone or hot cider just to reward yourself for taking the road less traveled.
Come visit and explore the beauty and lifestyle of East Tennessee.
Excited about the area and want more information, visit knoxville-tn.com or call 800-747-0713.