The trailhead is at the end of the Cades Cove Picnic Area.
This trail provides easy access from the Cades Cove area to the Appalachian Trail (AT) and popular areas like Russell Field, Spence Field
, Thunderhead, and Rocky Top. It's heavily traveled from spring into the fall before snow starts to make travel along the top of the mountains difficult.
The trail leaves the Cades Cove picnic area as an access road to the horse camp. At mile .2, the Crib Gap Trail
intersects the trail from the left. You'll pass the horse camp, where people camp with their horses before going out on adventures. The trail enters a hemlock forest until you cross Anthony Creek for the first time at mile .6. The trail moves ahead through rhododendron forests until a log bridge crosses Anthony Creek again. After this crossing, the trail begins to climb in earnest as it leaves Anthony Creek behind and makes its way toward the Bote Mountain Trail
A couple more stream crossings happen at mile 1.1 and mile 1.6, but there are bridges or logs making these easy to cross. The trail quickly comes to the Russell Field Trail
junction, which goes off to the right and leads up to Russell Field on the Appalachian Trail (AT). The Anthony Creek trail continues straight ahead as it continues between Anthony Ridge and Cold Water Knob. The trail begins to narrow as it climbs to mile 2.0, where the final crossing of Anthony Creek happens. At mile marker 2.9, you reach Campsite #9, which has room for several small groups and plenty of water from Anthony Creek.
Leaving the campsite, the trail climbs steeply for about .6 mile until it reaches Bote Mountain. It's a strenuous climb, but also provides great views, especially in the winter. All of this area is second growth forest because it was logged before the area became a national park. The views are beginning to diminish, but you can get an idea of what it must have been like to look out towards Cades Cove far below where the trail works its way through the woods.
Once you arrive at the Bote Mountain Trail
junction, you can go to the right and climb another 1.7 miles until you reach Spence Field
. Here, you have some of the best views in the park.
You can return to your car via the Anthony Creek trail, or make your way from Spence Field
to Russell Field, and then back down to where the Russell Field Trail
meets the Anthony Creek Trail. Either way, this trip provides access to some of the best views in the park.