horses in Cades Cove

Top 3 Trails in Cades Cove for Experienced Hikers

cades cove
July 2, 2021

Are you looking for some new hiking trails in Cades Cove? If you have already experienced some of the beginner level hikes and are looking for some more difficult hikes with the same great views and excitement, there are plenty of trails that fit what you are looking for. Here are the top 3 trails in Cades Cove for experienced hikers.

1. Rich Mountain Loop

CabinIf you want to be able to experience Cades Cove without a huge crowd around you, Rich Mountain Loop Trail is a great option. The trail starts at the beginning of Loop Road, before reaching the John Oliver Cabin. You will then head towards Rich Mountain, which is the perfect place to grab some amazing photos of the Smoky Mountains. As you depart Rich Mountain, you will continue to Indian Gap Trail and Crooked Arm Ridge Trail. There are so many benefits of hiking this trail, but one of the best things is the possibility of encountering some of the wildlife that calls Cades Cove home, including deer and the occasional black bear. If you want to experience the Cades Cove Loop without having to deal with the traffic and people, this is a trail that is made for you!

2. Spence Field Trail

Are you looking for a hike that will give you the ability to choose the exact path you take? If so, Spence Field Trail is a great option because of all the side trails that you are able to cut off on to see a mixture of everything the Smoky Mountains has to offer. Beginning on the Anthony Creek Trail, you will hike on a couple of different trails to get to Spence Field, including Russell Field Trail and the Bote Mountain Trail, which both have amazing features of nature. One thing you will see along the way is a stretch of rhododendron that has formed a tunnel over the walking path. When this plant is in full bloom, it’s an absolutely beautiful sight! About 5 miles into the hike, you will come to the famous Spence Field Trail. The views are amazing on Spence Field at all times of the year, but if the visibility is high, you will have an outstanding view of the North Carolina side of the Smokies. Named after James Spence, who built one of the first cabins in the area in the 1830s, Spence Field Trail has a rich history that is worth checking out.

3. Abrams Falls


Even though this trail is one of the shorter ones on this list, Abrams Falls is one of the best trails in Cades Cove that experienced hikers need to test out. One reason it is listed on the moderate difficulty level is because of the amount of time it takes to complete. The hike in total takes on average 3 or 4 hours to complete, but is one of the best hikes to experience waterfalls. Although Abrams Falls is only 20 feet high, the large volume of water that runs through it at a fast pace makes it an incredible sight to see in the Smokies. Like Spence Field Trail, Abrams Falls has some interesting history when it comes to how the name was founded. The waterfall and creek are named after a Cherokee chief whose village once sat several miles downstream of the falls.

One of the most amazing things about trails in Cades Cove is the unique story that each trail has to tell. Be sure to check out some of the other amazing history of the area as you plan your visit. We hope to see you soon on your next trip to the Smoky Mountains!

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