Cades Cove Campground

Thinking about getting in the Smokies to go camping, but don’t want to get too far into the Smokies? Cades Cove is home to a wonderful campground and a number backcountry sites you can reach via one of the many hiking trails. The main one is right on the left as you enter Cades Cove. At last count, they offered 159 camping sites and can handle trailers up to 35 feet. RVs are allowed to be a little larger than 40 feet. Sites are equipped with picnic tables, fire rings and a tent surface. And you can also find camping supplies at the Cades Cove Campground store.

You’ll also find that the Cades Cove Campground has a wealth of other conveniences in the form of comfort stations with toilets and running water. However, there are no showers at the Cades Cove Campground so our suggestion is to shower up before coming or just jump in a creek. No, in all seriousness, we’ll leave that one up to you.

On Bears: Fair warning, there are bears in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, so if you do decide to camp in Cades Cove you’re very likely to see one, or two, maybe even three. Attacks however are rare, and the ones that have occurred usually have to do with food left unattended. So, don’t leave food out at your campsite or store it in a tent. The Black Bears that call the national park home have a keen sense of smell and even the smell of toothpaste can lure them to a campsite. If you do see one in the campground, bang something together to create a loud noise, shout, wave your arms and act like you’re a loon…. Anything to try to scare them away. If nothing works, RUN to a building, into a car, whatever.

Upon your departure, please attempt to leave no trace of food or litter in the campground that will attract bears. No burying or burning of food either. If you bring something in to the Cades Cove Campground, you must pack it up and take it out when you leave.

On occassion, you may see photos of people interacting with park bears. Still, Smoky Mountain Black Bears are extremely unpredictable when it comes to their interactions with humans. It’s in your best interest not to try to interact with them or attempt to feed them.

Outside of the Cades Cove Campground, Russell and Spence fields provide shelters and there are 16 backcountry campgrounds as well throughout the Cades Cove trail network. To make reservations, call 865-436-1200.

Biking Townsend – Cades Cove and Beyond

Outdoor adventures and Townsend usually means floating down a river, hiking the Smokies, but just as many visitors trip to Cades Cove for the park’s biking opportunities along the Cades Cove Loops Road.

At the Cades Cove Campground Store, you can rent bicycles and helmets for a trip around the Loop Road. As you might have guess, this store is located at the Cades Cove Campground. Biking equipment is available beginning in April at a rate of $3.25 an hour. Contact the Cades Cove Campground store from 865-448-9034.

If the 11 mile Cades Cove Loop Road is too grueling a trip for you, Sparks and Hyatt Lane cut across the cove to shorten the journey for any first-time Smokies visitors. The shortcuts can also eliminate most of the hills on the loop, however, they also cut out many of the points of interest. Some people bike Cades Cove using one of the short cuts and then visit the cove again by car. You can only use bicycles on the Cades Cove loop road or other paved areas of the tour. You may not take bicycles off road or on trails.

Drinking water and restrooms are always issues to bikers. Both are available near the Cades Cove Campground Store and at the Cable Mill area inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is recommended that bikers bring a water bottle with them along with a bike friendly bottle holder. Though the Cades Cove Campground Store is at the beginning of the loop, the Cable Mill area is six miles away.

Cades Cove Loop Road is closed to motor vehicles for the benefit of foot and bicycle traffic from sunrise until 10:00 a.m. every Saturday and Wednesday morning from May 7-September 24. Summer hours are 9-5 (7-7 on Wednesday and Saturday bicycle days). Last rentals are at 4:30 p.m. Take care to wear helmets and heed warning signs. Bikes are permitted on most park roads but prohibited on most trails.

Townsend Spring Itinerary

Cades Cove church

Spring in Townsend, Tn might just be the perfect time to be in the Smokies for some, though you’re sure to hear the exact opposite from those fall foliage lovers, but that’s neither here nor there. In actuality, both seasons offer ample opportunities geared at getting visitors back to nature – something Townsend excels at, no matter the season. From popular festivals to numerous hikes and bicycle tours around the Smokies and Cades Cove, we’ve compiled a list of Spring “to-do’s” in Townsend. Be prepared to spend a few days if you plan on getting to everything, or just use it as a daily reminder if you plan on coming back a few time this spring.

Strap on your hiking boots and pack something warm just in case as the first jaunt on the Townsend Spring Itinerary gets you off the beaten path and onto the trails of the Smoky Mountains –

  • Take one of the numerous wildflower walks and hikes offfered in the Smoky Mountains; rent a bike from the Cades Cove Campground store and bike the Cades Cove Loop Road or rent from one of the many locales in town and ride the Townsend bike path. One of the most popular day hikes in the area is the Abrams Falls hike by way of Cades Cove – an easy 5-miler that will cool you off halfway through with a quick dip in the pool below Abrams Falls. Definitely worth the hike.

Our next itinerary suggestion lets the traveler enjoy the best of what Townsend and the Smokies has to offer – Cades Cove –

  • Beat the crowds and tour the Cades Cove loop in morning. Take in an evening tour if you’re interested in the Cove’s wildlife and history. Guided tours are now available through Cades Cove Heritage Tours. Be sure to stop by the Cades Cove Campground Store for some of their fabulous ice cream.

So, you’re ready to get back and sample some of Townsend’s offerings, etc? Not only does Townsend offer a handful of great locally-themed stores, there are also a number of historical stops around town to introduce visitors to the history of Townsend and the Smoky Mountains.

  • Check out the arts and crafts of Townsend at some of its many galleries and craft boutiques. From Apple Valley Farms to Nawger Nob to Southern Fried Gallery, Townsend is ripe with local artistic flavor. During the spring there are numerous festivals including the Townsend Spring Festival and Old Timers Day, as well as the Smoky Mountain Pottery Festival. For you history buffs, check out the Little River Railroad Company. It was there that the region got its start as loggers roamed the area before it was designated part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Did you miss anything while you were exploring? Use your final day to just mill around town, or ask the locals what some of their favorite haunts are –

  • Many people come to Townsend to fish. If so, stop by an Little River Outfitters and find out where the fishing is best to be had and pick up some of the latest gear too, eat a great meal at a distinctive local Townsend restaurant, or tour a Tennessee farm. Whatever it is, you’re sure to be back in town in no time. Townsend sort of has that effect on people – they drive through just looking for a way to get to the national park and end up staying for a few days. There’s sure to be even more to add to your list next time you’re in town, hopefully this is a good start.
Cars parked along Cades Cove loop road