I love hiking and driving in Cades Cove. Problem is millions have as well for the past 39 years leading to the complete degradation of the Cades Cove Loop Road which will be broken up and repaved next year so this Wednesday is your last chance to hike the road without traffic until at least late May.
Cades Cove Loop road is closed to automobile traffic until 10 am on Wednesday and Saturday mornings from spring until late September so that pedestrians and bicyclists can enjoy this spectacular place without the noise and annoyance of car and motorcycle traffic.
Starting on March of 2010 Cades Cove loop Road will be closed to all traffic - cars, bikes and all pedestrians - in order for the roadway to be broken up and pulverized, new concrete poured and then the road will be surfaces with asphalt. While the Great Smoky Mountains national park is hopeful that the job will be completed by Memorial Day although weather will determine how fast this job can be completed.
The new Cades Cove Loop Road will not be widened and a total of 12 pull offs were proposed by the park. Rumors are floating around that the road will be made harder to park alongside of except at designated pull offs.
Hiking or biking in Cades Cove in the morning is just such a magical time. Expect cool comfortably temperatures, a hint of mist in the year, easy wildlife sighting of turkey, deer, bear and maybe even a coyote and the magical lighting that photographers refer to as "the golden hour".
I particularity like walking the 11 miles of the Cades Cove Loop road rather than riding a bike. It is just so much more intimate to be walking quietly along this road as the beauty of the cove and its inhabitants unfolds before you at every twist and turn of this historic road.
From wide vistas of meadows framed by mountains to walking through tunnels of trees that envelop you and block out the sun, every footstep is in another chance for you to intimately experience adventure and beauty.
Sunrise will be at 7:31 am tomorrow morning and it takes around 3-1/2 hours to hike the loop quickly so I count on 4 to 4-1/2 hours to take my time and take photographs and "smell the roses" along the way.
Cars are allowed to drive into the Cades Cove Loop at 10 am and won't reach the back end of the loop until around 10:30 - 10:45. Hiker and bikers need to park at the orientation shelter at the beginning of the Cades Cove Loop until the parking area fills at which time you will be directed to park near the Cades Cove Riding Stables.
I will be leaving at 6:45 - 7 am from the orientation shelter to I will be already be past the John Oliver cabin past sunrise. Anyone looking to join me is welcome and should comment here or twitter me their intentions.
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