The second part of our trip to the Smokies was by far my favorite.
For years I've heard about Cade's Cove but have never been.
It's a little farther from Charlotte and if you were to drive straight there it might be a good 4 1/2 or 5 hours.
I could be wrong though.
From our campground it was about 45 minutes or an hour with all the mountain driving.
It's a scenic drive and totally worth it!
The Cove was an enclave of families living on the 11-mile loop back in the 1800 and early 1900's, but when the National Park was established in 1939 the government came in and bought all the families out.
Granted, they had no choice.
The area froze in time from that day even though many of the families leased their land and properties back.
Today, the 11-mile loop is THE most visited part of the park with over 2-million people a year.
On Saturday and Wednesday mornings it shuts down until 10am so people can bike the loop.
The rest of the time cars make their way around stopping at the some 18-stops along the way.
Many of the homes and churches still stand and you can walk to them. Some are right off the road and some are a half a mile or mile walk in then out.
We stopped at the visitors center on the loop for a map that cost $1.
Totally worth it.
Then we hit the road.
For years I've heard about all the wildlife there is to be seen in the Cove but I'm sad to say we saw none.
We arrived around 11:30am and I think it was too crowded for the critters to be out and about.
After our camping adventures in Brevard where Brad pushed the stroller up and down a major trail I asked Rachel (@erchla) on IG, if we could borrow their backpack for Shelby.
I didn't want to buy one before we knew if she liked it or not.
I've been wanting to try one of these out since she was born but wasn't sure if I could do it and Brad TOTALLY isn't into it.
Well, I'm here to report it was GREAT and SOOO much better than trying to take a BOB stroller on trails.
Not to mention a TOTAL workout for me!!
Shelby loved the hiking and seeing all being high up like everyone else.
We loved seeing all the historic homes and churches.
I can't imagine being here in the Fall.
It's probably crazy beautiful and crowded.
They were having a church service at the first church we stopped at.
Brad was freaked out about the yelling in the church and walking through the cemetery.
He didn't want me to take any pictures.
I took a few.
2nd church was empty.
Then we got a family photo.
It would have been great but notice that Shelby's shirt is hiked up.
NO BOW, is what she was saying here.
I loved every minute of this day!!
The mid-way point of the loop is the Mill House and Shelby was pretty dunzo and we were all hungry.
It was nearly 2pm at this point so we stopped, had a picnic and toured around.
Then more houses and we were done.
We plan on going back to Cade's Cove.
I hope next year our schedule permits us to visit with the leaves are at peak.
If you're in the area, it needs to be top on your list.