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The Top 5 Things To See Along The Cades Cove Scenic Loop


Cades Cove is one of the most popular areas in Great Smoky Mountains National Park due to its rich history, easy accessibility, and wildlife. There’s no shortage of things to do at Cades Cove, from hiking to Abrams Falls to walking around the many homesteads in the valley. You can enjoy the incredible sights and sounds of nature driving the Cades Cove Scenic Loop. Keep reading for the top 5 things to see along the way:

1. John Oliver Cabin

john oliver cabin The first cabin along the loop road is the John Oliver Cabin. The Oliver family were among the first pioneers to settle in the area, and this structure is open to the public to walk through at your own pace. A unique thing about the cabin is that no nails or pegs were used in its construction! The logs were tightly fit together in a saddle-notch construction, and open spaces were filled with mud to protect the inside from the elements. 

2. Baptist & Methodist Churches

The next few stops along the Cades Cove Scenic Loop are beautiful churches – two Baptist and one Methodist. The first church you’ll see is the Primitive Baptist Church, built in 1887. Next is the Methodist Church, which you’ll notice has two front doors, a common feature during that time allowing men to enter and sit on one side of the church and women and children to enter and sit on the other side. Missionary Baptist Church was formed after a group split from the Primitive Baptist Church in 1841, although the structure you see today was built in 1915. 

3. Visitor Center

visitor center along the cades cove scenic loopYou may not think a visitor center is worth stopping at, but you would be wrong! You can find one-of-a-kind souvenirs, historical books, pamphlets, maps, and so much more. You may even see a volunteer or two waiting to share a story of the early settlers. Plus, there are public restrooms available, so it would be wise to make a pit stop here before continuing your tour of Cades Cove. 

4. Cable Mill

Beside the Visitor Center is the only working gristmill left in the Smokies, the John Cable Mill. It’s fully operational, and if a volunteer is there working, you’ll be able to watch corn grind and learn even more about this interesting piece of Smoky Mountain history. Additionally, there are several other buildings around the mill to explore– you’ll definitely want to take the opportunity to get out of your vehicle and stretch your legs for a while!

5. Cantilever Barn

cantilever barn in cades coveProbably one of the most unique things to see along the Cades Cove Scenic Loop is the Cantilever Barn! This type of barn was common only in the Smoky Mountains area, so it’s hard to find a lot of information about them; the distinct characteristic is a loft-style area that overhangs the lower level, perhaps built that way to protect crops from rot since the Smokies receives so much rainfall during the year. Animals would also have been able to take shelter under the overhang, perfect for shelter against the sweltering heat. 

We hope you’ll explore the Cades Cove Scenic Loop on your next visit to the Smokies! Are you interested in more driving tours? Check out these scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains!