GSMNP Day 3 – Cades Cove / Rich Mountain Rd

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Great Smokey Mountains NP

On Thursday 10/15, Jason and I headed out for an “easy” day at Cades Cove, a low lying area in the northwest quadrant of the park. The geography is lower elevation (and thus with less fall foliage), with more open views over fields (including horses and wildlife!). A single-track paved road of bumper-to-bumper 15 mph traffic loops around the basin, connecting several historic sites and buildings that feature frontier mountain life in prior centuries.

Similar to the previous days’ experiences in the park, though the road itself was crowded, the sites themselves were less so as most people seemed to be content to view things from their cars. Further, once disembarked, even a half mile hike on a trail away from the parking area in one case led us to complete isolation for a quiet lunch.

After lunch we explored the Cable Mill site of an old (still working) grist mill, alongside several other historic buildings that had been relocated from other areas to create a small “village” of historic buildings.

We wrapped up our exploration of Cades Cove by taking Rich Mountain Road, a single-track dirt road through the mountains, out of the valley and into the town of Townsend, TN.

[All photographs are copyright 2020 Nalin A. Ratnayake. They are free to use and share for any non-commercial purpose, with attribution and a link to the original post on, without modification, and provided that this text is also included.]

Photos posted here were taken with a Canon EOS Rebel T1i and the EF 28-105mm 1/3.5-4.5 II USM lens. Images were compressed to 1/4 resolution and 85% image quality for easier upload and sharing. The two photos of the grist mill were take with an iPhone7.

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