I probably shouldn't be giving away this local tip, but you won't tell, right?
Drive out to Cades Cove late in the afternoon. There is a parking lot just outside the gate to the loop road. Park your car and walk in. At dusk the rangers will close the road gate to cars, but you can remain on the loop after they close the gate. Then, take the next few hours and walk the loop. We start around 8:00 p.m. and finish the short part of the loop (8 miles) by 11:30 p.m. Or, you can walk the entire loop. (11 miles) Take your time; the rangers will not make you leave as long as you keep to your purpose of walking through. In fact, there are several nights during the summer when the rangers guide these walks. Take a flashlight, but on a full moon night you can see great without the flashlight most of the way.
Nighttime is magical on the Cades Cove loop. The animals (deer, raccoons, foxes, bear, etc.) are out full force. You're on a paved road most of the time, you don't have to share the loop with the fumes and noise of bumper-to-bumper cars, and the smells and sounds of the creeks, meadows and forest are intoxicating.
Don't tell anyone else, though, or everyone will go!
Kelly & Matt
WBCCI - #4335
2005 Diesel Excursion
2008 31' Custom Classic "Moonshine"
2016 Interstate "BugOut"