We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Walking Cades Cove

West Monroe...
Level Contributor
364 posts
55 reviews
Save Topic
Walking Cades Cove

I'm looking for feedback from people who have actually walked the loop in Cades Cove. I know that the road is closed to vehicle traffic until 10AM on Wednesdays and Saturdays from May through September. However, our trip is in mid October, and we would really like to explore the Cove on foot instead of driving it like we normally do. If we get an early start, even before the gate is open, how SAFE is it to walk the loop while it's open to vehicle traffic during the busiest season of the year? If this is a bad idea, we'll save it for another trip and another year when we can be there during the months when there are designated closure days for bikers and walkers. It's definitely on my list of "want to do" and we are planning to do the ranger-led night hike on the Monday night that we're there, since our night hike in June got cut short by an incoming thunderstorm.

Grove City, Ohio
Level Contributor
1,543 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Walking Cades Cove

I think that walking the Cove would be pretty safe. Traffic usually moves at a leisurely enough pace to not be too much of a threat. Get there as early as possible and give it a try.

Alabama
Level Contributor
1,911 posts
130 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Walking Cades Cove

I think that would be an awesome way to spend a day.

Melbourne, Florida
Destination Expert
for Melbourne, Florida
Level Contributor
14,193 posts
99 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Walking Cades Cove

I think its pretty safe as long as you pay attention to the cars coming thru. Keep in mind many of them will be watching the scenery and not watching the road. There are a couple of very narrow areas of roadway with sharp curves and a hill that would be probably the most dangerous spot as the drivers would be blind to you being there. I would hurry thru that section. Otherwise, if you get there early you will find yourself sharing the road with others that are walking and biking.

When we were there last fall (And this was just September) we made the mistake of going super early in the morning by car, there were loads of bikes holding up traffic as well as photographers wandering the roads. I don't think you will have a problem walking thru.

Tullahoma, Tennessee
Level Contributor
345 posts
142 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Walking Cades Cove

How many will be in your party? I disagree with the others who have posted, i do not think it would be safe to walk the road, even if going against traffic. The road is narrow, there are no shoulders, and a party of five or six would create problems for cars.

I have long wished the park service would create a trail down the middle of the cove so walkers could get a good, safe view of the scenery.

Alabama
Level Contributor
1,911 posts
130 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Walking Cades Cove

If it's safe for bikes I can't see why it wouldn't be considered safe for walkers. I'd feel safer with walkers than bikers. If I were driving I'd prefer walkers to bikers too.

Edited: 03 August 2014, 22:41
Mississippi
Level Contributor
1,530 posts
21 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Walking Cades Cove

I've seen folks do it, and they make good time. Only issue I would have is having to breath exhaust when the traffic is bad.

If you didn't like it you could always cut the walk short by taking Hyatt Rd or Sparks Ln.

Level Contributor
1,279 posts
Save Reply
7. Re: Walking Cades Cove

I wouldn't think hiking the Cove in traffic would be a very pleasant experience. The exhaust issue would drive me nuts. It kinda wrecks the whole notion of hiking in nature when you have to keep looking at carloads of people staring at you as you pass by.

cincinnati, ohio
Level Contributor
2,233 posts
224 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Walking Cades Cove

Been there, done that! Actually, the best time to walk it is during the bumper to bumper traffic - you move faster than they do. I'm assuming with mid-October, you're doing fall colour.

If you're concerned about cars, walk it backwards facing traffic. I've done it both ways and there's enough room along either side of the road to walk unimpeded. Nobody says you have to actually walk ON the road all the time!! I spent more time, and made better time, walking along the road in the grass.

There are two spots that are tight - the bridge coming into the VC and the steep hillside just after the VC, although the old road runs down the right side there and can be walked instead.

If you just want to walk the loop, depending on your pace, it's 2 to 4 hours - just walking. If you want to view the sights, hit side trails, stop and actually eat lunch instead of a power bar, figure all day with a modest pace, using the historical buildings as rest stops. Don't overlook the road out to Parson's Branch as a side trip, but do keep an eye for the big furry guys and gals out there.

Hope this helps - enjoy!!

West Monroe...
Level Contributor
364 posts
55 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Walking Cades Cove

Thanks everyone! It's only two of us, both adults in reasonably decent shape (or will be by then; we're about to start our daily walking to be ready for the more moderate hikes in the area). I do think we might do the loop in reverse, if for no other reason than to spend more time at the sites near the end of the loop where our energy level and patience have typically been worn thin by the end of the drive. We'll probably spend more than the 2-4 hours listed above because we'll be stopping constantly to take pictures of anything and everything. We have an insulated backpack that we used when hiking Little River Road during the government shutdown last Fall, so we'll be able to stop and eat a sandwich or something when we start getting hungry. If we decide we don't want to finish the entire 11 miles, we'll just use Sparks or Hyatt to cut across and make an earlier exit.

Thanks for the feedback and suggestions! I can't wait!

Paris, Tn
Destination Expert
for Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge
Level Contributor
2,722 posts
28 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Walking Cades Cove

If I were able, I'd love to walk through Cades Cove. I'd be able to better observe all the sights I've seen before in other trips from a vehicle.

I agree 100% with VeeBee, If I'm glonna walk the loop road, I'd feel safer just having to contend with bikers, than having to worry about vehicles too. I can dodge a bike better than I can cars....I think that's what VeeBee meant.

Ray