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If you’ve visited the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you’ve probably been to the most popular spot: Cades Cove. There are a ton of cool stops along this scenic drive, such as the cantilever barn, John Oliver cabin, and Cable grist mill. These stops are right along the road, but did you know there are some hidden gems in Cades Cove too? One of them is Gregory’s Cave. Keep reading to find out more about Gregory’s Cave in Cades Cove.
Gregory’s Cave in Cades Cove
Most caves are formed when limestone and sandstone fracture and weather over time. Gregory’s Cave is one of the largest caves in the Cades Cove area. The entrance to the cave is 10 feet wide and 4 feet tall. The cave is primarily a single large passage that ranges from 20 to 55 feet wide and 15 feet tall. There are quite a few side passages in the cave as well. In one of the side passages, there are pick marks along the wall, which indicates mining activity happened in the early 1800s.
Gregory Cave was actually the only cave in the national park that was developed as a commercial cave. In 1925, the cave was opened to the public by the Gregory family, who still lived in Cades Cove at the time. There were planks in the cave to walk across certain areas, and they installed battery powered lights. Gregory Cave was even used as an emergency shelter that would hold a maximum of 1,000 people when people still lived in the Cades Cove area. The cave was still open to the public in 1935, but when the national park bought the property from the Gregory family, it was closed. Today, the cave entrance is securely closed to the public.
Finding Gregory’s Cave
You may be wondering how you would find the entrance to Gregory’s Cave. First, you have to drive down the Cades Cove Loop! Then, you’ll stop and get out of your vehicle when you reach John Oliver Cabin. There is a dirt road with metal bars in front of it to block cars, and you should follow it. On the right, there are two picnic tables, and you’ll continue going forward. Then, you’ll see the cave on the right around trees with boxes on them.
Other Interesting Stops in Cades Cove
There are some other hidden gems, as well as not-so-hidden gems in Cades Cove. Another one of the hidden ones you’ll have to look for is the Pearl Harbor Tree. You’ll have to walk through the woods and keep a sharp eye out for this tree to find it.
Abrams Falls is another great place to go. You’ll just have to take a moderate hike along this 5 mile roundtrip trail. Along the hike, you’ll walk through old forest growth and possibly see wildflowers and wildlife, depending on what time of the year you’re there. Abrams Falls is 20 feet tall with a huge amount of water that rushes over the rocks.
Any of the historic buildings along the Loop are great places to get out and explore. The grist mill is the only working mill in the national park, and you can purchase flour and cornmeal a few times a year that has been ground by the grill. You’ll also see the cantilever barn, a unique structure that isn’t found in many other places in the country other than East Tennessee.
Seeing Gregory Cave in Cades Cove would be a neat thing to do the next time you’re in the area. Want to know more about the area? Learn more about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park before you come!