Driving Cades Cove & the Hike to Abram’s Falls

We had a great time on this trip. We met up with some of my best friends and explored the many beautiful sights and stops found in Cades Cove.

Homestead in Cades Cove

Cades cove is an 11 mile motor loop and one of the most popular destinations in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Rich in history, wildlife, and hikes, it has a little bit of something for everyone. Be warned though, the traffic is heavy and you’ll spend a lot of time sitting in your car. Especially if there is a wildlife sighting. We were lucky and saw two bears along the drive. This is also a common spot for deer and elk sightings.

First settled by Europeans between 1818 and 1821, Cades Cove was a fast growing settlement. By 1930 the population hit 271 people and included three churches, a working grist mill, barns and log houses. These have been carefully restored and are open to the public. More information on the history of Cades Cove is available on the National Park Services website.

The newest church in Cades Cove

Inside of Church



Along with the homesteads and churches, there are a few hikes to stop at. We decided to take the 5.2 mile round trip hike to Abram’s Falls. The trail has a total elevation gain of 675 feet with the first part being almost entirely up hill. It’s a bit rocky but nothing compared to the Appalachian trail we had hiked part of the day before.

Abram’s Falls is 20 feet tall and has a large volume of water, falling over a sandstone cliff into a deep pool of water. There were several other people on the trail and at the waterfall but it didn’t feel over-crowed. We took a long rest at the falls and enjoyed the view.

Abram's Falls
Abram’s Falls

In 2008, Backpacker Magazine listed this as the ninth most dangerous trail in American because of the high exposure to drowning and hypothermia hazards. The article said that 29 deaths had occurred on the trail since 1971 from water related incidents. Considering that supposedly 1,000 people a day visit Abram’s Falls during the peak season, it’s not likely that something will happen but let it serve as a reminder to always be prepared and take proper precautions when you hike in any area.

More information about Abram’s Falls is available on the National Park Services website.

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