The next officially maintained trail by the park
service is about 4 miles from the entrance to the loop road and is called Cooper Road
Trail. Once again you are not likely to encounter more than a handful of hikers on this
old wagon road which the residents once used as an easy way out of Cades Cove. It almost
entirely flat, and goes all the way to the edge of the park. For a day hike you can go as
far as you have time for and turn around and come back. For most people this would mean
hiking to the Beard Cane trail. This would be about a 10 mile round trip, but with almost
no elevation gain. It would only take about 5 hours, giving you enough time to do a little
more sight seeing after you get back.
This was the trail to Maryville
in the 1830s. Eventually it was improved into a wagon road by Joe Cooper. Today it is a
10-mile foot trail terminating near the Foothills Parkway.
Hauling goods in and out in good weather was
difficult; in rainy weather, almost impossible. Ten or twelve miles per day was average
time, so shopping trips took about three days and nights. Newspapers and gossip usually
returned with the wagoneer.
If you look closely, you will see the compacted
ruts and gentle swales of other roads throughout the Cove.