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Cades Cove is the most popular area in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and it’s not hard to see why! From gorgeous views, to an abundance of wildlife, to fascinating historic structures, Cades Cove has it all. We know you’ve heard about all the popular stops along the 11-mile Cades Cove Loop Road, but we want to share some hidden gems you can find in the cove! Here are 6 secret spots in Cades Cove you have to explore.
1. Pearl Harbor Tree
One of our favorite spots in Cades Cove is the Pearl Harbor Tree. The tree serves as a reminder of what happened in 1941 and to honor those who died. It was planted the day of the attack by a man named Golman Myers, who heard of the attack on the radio and knew the United States would be going to war. He had two older sons who were of draft age, so he wanted to do something to mark the mournful moment. He found a small sapling tree the size of a limb and planted it in his family’s front yard. To protect it, he placed an old rim of an automobile around it. Myers passed in 1945, but his son Bernard returned to Cades Cove in the mid-1970s and chained a metal tag to the tree that reads, “Golman Myers transplanted this tree Dec. 7 1941.”
To get to the tree, use the parking area about 3.6 miles along the Cades Cove Loop Road. Then, walk west for .1 miles until you see a small clearing on the north side of the road. Where the treeline on the western edge of the field meets the road is the hill you climb to get to the tree. You’ll recognize it because of the metal tag and the many American flags visitors have placed at the tree!
2. Gourley’s Pond
Gourley’s Pond is another hidden gem in Cades Cove. It’s often overlooked by visitors, but after significant rainfall, it’s a great sight to see! This pond takes some exploring to get to, though, because it can’t be seen from the loop. To get to Gourley’s Pond, park your car at the LeQuire Cemetery parking area past the south end of Sparks Lane. From there, walk along the loop road for about 200 feet until you see a path on your right. Follow the trail for about 100 feet, then head southwest until you see the pond.
3. Cantilever Barn
The cantilever barn is one of the top photographed structures in Cades Cove. We like to think of it as a secret spot since it’s not mentioned as a main stop along the Cades Cove Loop Road! You can find the cantilever barn at the Tipton Place. The overhang design of the barn was perfect for farmers in Cades Cove because of the high level of rainfall in the park. It helped prevent their crops from rotting from too much rain and humidity. What’s even more incredible when you see it is knowing that this historic structure was built without using any modern machinery! Be sure to have your cameras ready when you stop to explore the cantilever barn! The Tipton Place also features a 2-story cabin, double-pen corn crib and a blacksmith shop.
4. Cades Cove Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery
Cades Cove is actually home to 14 cemeteries, although only 11 of them have been found. If you love learning about Cades Cove’s history and the people who called Cades Cove home, then you should take the time to explore one of the cemeteries on your visit. The Cades Cove Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery has the graves of familiar names like John and Lucretia Oliver, the first white settlers of Cades Cove, and William Howell Oliver, the church’s pastor for almost 60 years! While you’re there, be sure to take time to step inside the Primitive Baptist Church itself and explore.
5. Rich Mountain Road
For a less crowded way to exit Cades Cove, use Rich Mountain Road. It’s a 7-mile journey that winds through the forest and provides an excellent opportunity to see bears and other wildlife. Rich Mountain Road offers a more quiet drive, and it takes you right to Townsend, TN. Along Rich Mountain Road, there’s an overlook that provides one of the best views of the Primitive Baptist Church and the valley below!
Keep in mind when planning your visit that Rich Mountain Road is typically only open from April through mid-November.
6. Hyatt Lane
Hyatt Lane isn’t technically a secret spot in Cades Cove, but it is a less traveled road in the Smokies! Hyatt Lane was originally used by settlers when traveling to Tuckaleechee or Maryville. Now, it’s a two-lane shortcut in Cades Cove. One of the reasons you should take a drive down Hyatt Lane is because it offers a unique opportunity to view Cades Cove from its center. You can also use it as a way to cut back across Cades Cove and visit your favorite spots for a second time!
Plan a Visit to Cades Cove
Now that you know all about the secret spots in Cades Cove you have to explore, we bet you can’t wait to start planning your visit. Before you do, be sure to check out our step-by-step guide to the Cades Cove Loop Road.