On April 1st, the Cades Cove Riding Stables will start their season for guided trail and carriage rides on the western side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. They are the last one of three riding stables in the Smokies to do so. The Smoky Mountain Riding Stables near Gatlinburg opened already on March 15th and the Smokemont Riding Stable north of Cherokee will follow on March 27th.
The Cades Cove valley is one of the most beautiful and hence, one of the most popular destinations in the Smokies. The easiest way to reach it is via Townsend, the more idyllic entrance to the park. Visitors can count on wildlife encounters, including wild turkey, deer and the occasional bear.
Since the 11 mile one-way Cades Cove loop road is usually very busy during summer it is highly recommended to leave the car at the parking lot and explore the area by foot, on bicycles or on horseback. Bike rides are most pleasurable when the loop is closed for car traffic, every Saturday and Wednesday until 10 a.m., starting in May. For those who can’t be there at these specific times and still want to enjoy nature without being stuck in a traffic jam, a guided trail ride may be the way to go. The opening hours are from 9.30 a.m. till 4.30 p.m. and the whole family is invited.
The Stables’ homepage looks promising and so do the happy horses that are currently enjoying themselves in the huge pastures at the Cades Cove loop entrance. But if one is looking for online reviews, there won’t be many because the National and State Park Concessions have been operating the riding stables only since 2009. Before them, the Myer family had been running the establishment for 43 years but lost the concession competition and had to move to new premises in Townsend.