After reading a recent article about a secret underground city discovered beneath Cades Cove, we started wondering what it would be like if there really were secret places in the Smokies. So, we’re sharing some of our favorite secret places in Cades Cove and around the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Make sure you see these on your next vacation!
Gourley’s Pond in Cades Cove
The Gourley Pond is one of the most overlooked areas in Cades Cove. You can’t see the pond from the road, so you’ll need to leave your car at LeQuire Cemetery at the end of Sparks Lane. Walk down the loop road about 200 feet until you see a path on your right, then continue along that trail for about 100 feet until you see the pond. Gourley’s Pond is one of our favorite hidden gems in the Smoky Mountains, but it is a wet-weather pond, so if there’s not been any rainfall, it may be empty.
Upper Tremont Road Near Cades Cove
If you’ve ever driven along Upper Tremont Road, you’ve probably been impressed by this hidden beauty in the park. To reach Upper Tremont Road, you drive through Townsend and into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, then you turn right toward Cades Cove and you’ll turn left at the sign for Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont.
Even though Upper Tremont isn’t directly in Cades Cove, it’s very close to Cades Cove, so you get to experience the same type of mountain beauty that you’ll find in the Cove. This road is away from the crowds and gives you a beautiful experience in the mountains. There’s hiking, picnic areas and, since the road runs beside a stream, there’s lots of water features along the way. There are many pull offs, so if you have small children, this is a great drive for stopping and getting out to splash around in the creek and enjoy the views.
Secret Entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Have you heard of the “secret entrance” to the national park? The Wears Valley entrances is a secret spot, typically where many locals will go to get into the national park. In the last few years, this entrance has become a little less “secret,” but it’s still not as popular as the Gatlinburg entrance, so it’s still a great place to skip some of the crowds during the peak season.
Lost CCC Camps
When the Smokies were becoming a national park, Franklin Roosevelt formed the Civilian Conservation Corps. This helped create jobs during the Great Depression and helped restore the forestry for the new national park. When you visit the camps today, you will see an old chimney, fire hydrant, drinking fountain and other historical pieces. You can find these lost CCC camps near the Smokemont area.
The Sinks Swimming Hole
When you go to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park through the Gatlinburg entrance, take the second right by the visitor center and start traveling toward Elkmont. Not far past the turnoff to Elkmont, you’ll come across the Sinks on the right. Expect to get wet when you spend time at the Sinks. There’s waterfalls to walk under and a cliff to jump into the water. Please use caution at the Sinks.
White Oak Sinks
White Oak Sinks is the perfect place to go in the springtime if you love wildflowers! The White Oak Sinks trailhead is a half mile into the School House Gap Trail between Cades Cove and Tremont. This trail actually isn’t market and doesn’t even appear on many trail maps. It’s about a 2 mile hike, but it’s “a little off the path.” You’ll see waterfalls falling over the ridges into the sinks, remains of old rock walls and an unbelievable amount of wildflowers.
Want to read more secrets?
Take a look at these 8 Shocking Secrets about Cades Cove You Won’t Believe for more fun facts about the Cades Cove area!