This is a highlight of the first nine stops listed on the 11 mile Cades Cove Loop Tour that you can pick up for $1.00 at any Visitor Center or online. The first stop is the Orientation Shelter at the entrance and you can also pick up a booklet there.
Stop 2 – Sparks Lane
This gravel side road connects at each end with the loop road. It can be used as a shortcut to exit the loop at this point. It’s definitely worth the drive and you can connect with the loop again at the beginning.
Stop 3 – John Oliver Cabin
There is parking here and it’s a short 1/4 mile hike to the cabin. From the first parking lot, the path is a woodsy, shady walk, or if you stop at the next parking area, you can walk across the open field. This was my favorite cabin; built in the early 1820s, it is the oldest clog home in the Cove. Don’t miss the little path from the front porch to the stream – very peaceful and scenic.
Stop 4 – Primitive Baptist Church
You have to drive 1/4 mile down a gravel road to get here, but don’t miss it. Some of the earliest settlers established this church in 1827 and that log structure was replaced with this one in 1887. Look at the ceiling and you’ll see handprints from the raising of the ceiling caused by the sap of the wood clinging to the hands of the workmen. There is a gravestone here from the Revolutionary War. See my blog post about the church graveyards on the loop.
Stop 5 – Methodist Church
The church was established in 1820, but was replaced by this structure in 1902. It was built in 115 days for $115! Its plans followed the then-traditional style with separate entrances for men and women, but this church didn’t enforce that rule. There’s also an old graveyard to the side.
Stop 6 – Hyatt Lane
Another side road from the main loop, this was once part of the Cherokee Trail. Here you can cut your trip around the loop short or repeat the western part of it.
Stop 7 – Missionary Baptist Church
This church was formed in 1839 from a group expelled from the Primitive Baptist Church because they favored missionary work. This building dates to 1915.
The video below was taken here on one of the most beautiful Fall days I’ve ever experienced. The colorful leaves swirled all around me, and it also shows the entrance to Rich Mountain Road , which is across the road from the church. I didn’t go down here until spring, 2014 since this road exits the Cove and cannot be reentered by it. But the wildflowers on the roadside then were fabulous and I even saw a mama bear and 3 cubs a little too close for comfort at first! See blog post about Stop 8 – Rich Mountain Road.
Stop 9 is a parking area for Cooper Road Trail. This was part of an early Indian trail and became the old wagon road used by residents, where wheel ruts can still be seen. It offers a 10.9 mile hike from the loop road to the Abrams Creek campground.
Next: Tour Stops 10 – 18