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Cades Cove with kids ages 5-10

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posts: 32
Cades Cove with kids ages 5-10

We will be in this area the end of July and I wanted to spend 1 full day in and around the GSMNP----I planned on the 1st part of the day at Cades Cove (stop at the visitor center and do the JR ranger activity, drive the 11 mi. loop and stop at the different points )and then the early afternoon spent water tubing down the nearby Little River.........Any advice on what to do at Cades Cove or any other suggestions on different areas?

I had also thought about going to the Sugarlands Visitor Center and doing a JR Ranger Program and I believe they have a movie and a short hiking trail, and then maybe doing the hike to Laurel Falls which is just down the road, and then stop at Metcalf Bottom and do a picnic and play in the water and on the rocks........How would this compare to Cades Cove and the different points of interest there?

Would love to hear from anyone with experience in this area!!!! THANKS

Canada, Kentucky
posts: 778
reviews: 2
1. Re: Cades Cove with kids ages 5-10

Hi, personally my family loves Cades Cove, always have. This is an 11 mile loop with all kinds of stops to make. Some are right off the road and some are nice short walks/hikes. Each stop tells the history of the place and gives the kids the opportunity to explore. There is plenty of space to let them get their energy out ! It takes a good half day or more depending on how many stops and how long you take. There is a beautiful picnic area located BEFORE you enter the loop located to the left...signs are posted. This is accessible before or after you drive the loop. It is located on a mountain stream where they can splash and play. The whole area is beautiful so whatever you decide, you can't go wrong! Hope this helps you out!

Savannah, Ga
Destination Expert
for Cherokee, Tybee Island
posts: 1,188
reviews: 5
2. Re: Cades Cove with kids ages 5-10

The kids will enjoy Cades Cove. There is lot of wildlife to see throughout the loop road. Like above there is also plenty of things to see. They have a hay wagon ride the kids should enjoy. Also at the turn to Townsend before the cove there is the wye. this is a nice place to play in the water and to relax.

posts: 48
reviews: 10
3. Re: Cades Cove with kids ages 5-10

My kids (2 under 10)always enjoy Cades Cove. It's a good place to wind down especially if you've running around pigeon forge/gatlinburg.Pull off, have a picnic and enjoy the scenery.

posts: 32
4. Re: Cades Cove with kids ages 5-10

Thank you so much for the answers, we will definitely do a day at Cades Cove!

Destination Expert
for West Virginia
posts: 1,957
reviews: 30
5. Re: Cades Cove with kids ages 5-10

My grandchildren have always liked Cades' Cove. We stop and see the settler houses, go into the old churches & let them sit in the pews, walk around the cemeteries. They love seeing the wildlife. The Elijah Oliver place is a little bit of a hike (very short) but has several buildings & the boys like going there. We almost always get close to deer on the walk.

SE Indiana
posts: 546
6. Re: Cades Cove with kids ages 5-10

Here, let me get my wet blanket out...

CC will be horrible if somebody decides to go 1.2MPH and STOP every 20 ft.

Bathrooms are NOT built at "kid intervals"

I'd opt for just a nice drive thru the park and a picnic there...

I suggest floating the river in the afternoon...it can be chilly and some sun helps.

posts: 5,537
reviews: 48
7. Re: Cades Cove with kids ages 5-10

First, note that every spot you mentioned is squarely on the beaten path. They're all nice and neat to see, but there's plenty else just as worthwhile.

July sees more visitors than any other month of the year, and Cades Cove is one of the most popular areas in the national park. Drive the loop road at any time other than before ten in the morning or six in the evening and the traffic will be unacceptable. If you go midday and just make some stops along the road, I doubt you'll have a very fulfilling experience. Kids are rarely content putting along in a car for long periods of time. To avoid this you'll have to either leave the Gatlinburg area early in the morning (probably latest at seven) or get back pretty late (nine o'clock).

These time rules go for all of the spots you've mentioned.

posts: 32
8. Re: Cades Cove with kids ages 5-10

I was planning on arriving there around 10am on a Monday morning (july 26)--probably wouldn't stop at every stop-----are there certain ones that are more entertaining to kids than others? would probably try to do the Jr. Ranger program at the welcome center...........any advice?

posts: 5,537
reviews: 48
9. Re: Cades Cove with kids ages 5-10

Ten A.M. is when the traffic gets bad. You'd have to visit before that time.

Cable Mill is a must see simply because there aren't any other mills in Cades Cove (and there are sometimes volunteers with presentations or artifacts around the visitor center), but other than that where to stop is rather idiosyncratic. I highly recommend driving into the center of the cove via Sparks of Hyatt Lanes where it is relatively quiet even when the loop road is packed with people. There you could enjoy a picnic or let the kids run about in the field or explore along Abrams Creek.

Note that the Junior Ranger program is a booklet that the kids can turn in for a badge once completed, not a presentation or some such. Not so much something you "do" but something they do while exploring the park. But only a day or half day in the park might rush getting through the booklet. The park isn't a tourist attraction and doesn't lend itself to one time half day visits.

Williamsburg, IN
posts: 30
reviews: 15
10. Re: Cades Cove with kids ages 5-10

We did the Cades Cove loop last spring. One thing I wish I had brought with us was binoculars. You will probably see a lot of wildlife, but some of it is off in the distance. Binoculars would have been nice. In fact, there were several times during the trip that I thought I should have packed binoculars. They would have been useful for looking up into the mountains from our hotel. I have 4 kids, ages 11 - 3, and I intend to pack 2 - 3 pairs of binoculars this year because I know the kids will fight over them. We have several pairs at our house already (as part of my husband's hunting gear collection), but if we didn't I would buy some of those really cheap collapsible binoculars before the trip to keep the kids from fighting over them.