Saturday, October 18, 2008

Cades Cove & the Loop Road, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The valley comprising Cades Cove

On a leisurely afternoon Bob & I take Hwy 441N to 321W to enter the park at the Townsend Visitors Center. From this point, we can drive along Hwy 73 on Laurel Creek Road over to Cades Cove and take the one way 11 mile loop road, where you drive around grassy meadows and take in the wildlife.

A typical hiking trail

One of several log homes

View from Visitor's Center

Shortly before entering the loop road we are shocked to find bumper to bumper traffic. Although we make a few stops to visit some of the old dwellings and churches in the area, in all, it took half a day to make the 11 mile circle - in the off season.

One of several churches along the way


Another home

Was the drive worth it? Yes, but only once. The pictures will speak for themselves, but the traffic was relentless and wildlife turned out to be a few wild turkeys and a scraggly white tailed deer or two. In fact, we never saw 2 deer together, which is really unusual. I didn’t even bother to get pictures. That would have slowed traffic more.

Bob resting at the Visitor's Center

Fall peeking through

Creek feeding the grist mill

With a temperate climate and approximately 55 inches of rain annually, more than 1500 flowering plants call this home. In addition to being part of the National Park Service, it is also an International Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site.

Former grist mill

Old grinding stones
A lazy autmn day

It was thought that originally the Cherokee’s called this home, but no archeological evidence supports that claim. The Europeans claimed the land sometime between 1818 and 1821. In 1830, it is thought the population was 271. The remaining long cabins, churches and graveyards are all that remain. Cades Cove has the widest variety of historic buildings of any area in the park. We see churches, graveyards, several log houses, barns and even a gristmill in an exquisite area where the park has one of their visitor centers.

Nearing sunset
An old barn

Low sun hits the barn

For further information: Great Smoky Mountain National Park

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