February 16, 2023
Another amazing loop in the Cade’s Cove area. The views from this isolated valley are tremendous. Year-by-year statistics show that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) is the most frequented of the National Parks. Within GSMNP, Cades Cove is the most popular destination, with over 2 million visitors a year. * The unique valley is fertile, flat, and surrounded by mountains on all sides. “Geologically, Cades Cove is a type of valley known as a “limestone window”, created by erosion that removed the older Precambrian sandstone, exposing the younger Paleozoic limestone beneath.” *
My path this day was to hike from the remaining portion of Cooper Road Trail, Hatcher Mountain Trail, Abrams Falls Trail, Wet Bottom Trail, back to the car. I hiked most of Cooper Road Trail a week prior. After hiking back to the car, I drove down to Finley Cane Trail to finish a remaining trail that I did not hike on Monday near Bote Mountain Trail.
The day started with strong winds and chance of thunderstorms. I thought of hiking Beard Cane to Ace Gap and Rich Mountain, but with a chance of thunderstorms; I did not want to be on that ridge. I chose instead the 14.2-mile loop of Cooper and Abrams. Of course, that meant that the weather then decided to turn sunny, but that’s the way it always seems to work.
Abrams Falls is a very frequently visited trail, but on this day, hardly anyone was hiking. The falls are thunderous, with a torrent of water coming down creating dangerous currents underneath. The Wet Bottom Trail is only 1-mile long, but does have a low, but wide water crossing.
Finley Cane is a great little trail that starts near Turkeypen Ridge and Lead Cove and goes 2.8 miles to Bote Mountain Trail. I like the variance in temperate zones and large poplars along the way. It’s a nice trail, with a nominal elevation gain.
Total mileage is 20 miles.
*Christen, Kris (Winter–Spring 2002). “Trapped in the Cove”. Sightline. University of Tennessee Energy, Environment and Resources Center (EERC). 3 (1). Archived from the original on 2006-07-14.
* Moore, Harry (1988). A Roadside Guide to the Geology of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press. p. 29.