horses in Cades Cove

All About the Pine Oak Nature Trail in Cades Cove

Cades Cove
January 19, 2022

In the Smoky Mountains, many visitors love going to Cades Cove! From wildlife viewing to camping, there are plenty of activities you can do when you come to the area. One popular activity is hiking, and if you are going hiking for the first time in the Smokies, the Pine Oak Nature Trail in Cades Cove is a great place to start! Learn more about hiking this nature trail in the Smoky Mountains.

Getting to the Trail

The nature trail is a fairly short one — about 0.8 miles roundtrip and around 200 feet in elevation. The trailhead is located within the Cades Cove Campground area. One way to get to the trail is to go straight to the Cades Cove Campground. The other option is to travel the full Cades Cove Loop Road or take Hyatt or Sparks Lanes as shortcuts. If you decide to take the full loop, be sure to stop by the Cades Cove Visitor Center before you hike the trail. The visitor center is only open from mid-April to October. However, if you plan to visit Cades Cove during that time, you can grab Cades Cove books, maps, and more! Whichever way you go, you will need to follow the Cades Cove Campground Segment A road after entering the camping area. When you encounter the Segment D road on your left, the trailhead will be a little further up the road on your right.

About the Trail

Cades Cove SunsetThe hike does not take long to complete. About 20 yards into the trail, you’ll approach a fork in the path where you’ll head to your left. As you progress with your hike, you’ll have opportunities to catch views of the Smokies as well as forested areas and a few streams here and there. Curious about the best times to hike this trail? Try going in the spring to see blooming wildflowers or in the fall when the foliage is most vibrant! Also, make sure you keep an eye out for any of the many animals that live in Cades Cove. You never know when you’ll see a wild turkey, a white-tailed deer, or a black bear! Just remember to observe any animals on your hike from a safe distance. You’ll know you’ve finished the nature trail once you reach the original fork, where you can head left to go back to the trailhead.

Other Things to Do in Cades Cove

If you want to do more in Cades Cove before or after your hike of Pine Oak Nature Trail, you have plenty of activity options. Stay at the campground where you can go traditional or RV camping year round! You can also rent a bike from Cades Cove Trading Company to tour the loop or go horseback riding with Cades Cove Riding Stables. If you have time, you can also learn more about the historic buildings that are scattered throughout Cades Cove. The John Oliver Cabin, Elijah Oliver Place, or one of the historic Cades Cove churches are all great places to explore!

When you’re visiting Cades Cove, you don’t want to miss out on chances to hike in the area. The Pine Oak Nature Trail in Cades Cove is considered to be an easy hike, so hikers of all experience levels will be able to enjoy it! While you’re there, don’t forget to check out some other trails near Cades Cove as well. We can’t wait to see you soon in Cades Cove!

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