The trip to Cades Cove is always the earliest day. Ashley, Kaleigh and I got up before 5am and set out for the 45 minute drive, then the 1 hour wait for the cove to open. We were about the 5th car in line this year and the cars piled up behind us as we inched closer to sunrise.
When the gates opened, it seemed a bit early to me and the initial ride through was a little lack luster so we made a few stops at some of the sites and took our time. We saw turkeys, and some other random wildlife and I got some decent pictures. Despite them letting us in about 10 minutes early, it was still a great trip around the loop.
After a quick restroom break, we headed back into the cove to get to our first hike of the day. When we about half way there we spotted a bear! It was about as close as I have seen one in the wild, about 40 feet. Sadly, this bear eluded a good picture but we still got to see it foraging for food and we were all extremely excited! It was Kaleigh's first bear in the wild!
Giddly from the bear sighting, we struck out on the trail head to Abrams Falls. This was a hike that was listed as moderate but I felt like it was pretty easy, despite it being 5 miles. Kaleigh did not have any issues and we trotted along at a good pace, even spotting a copperhead snake right on the trail that we all nearly stepped on!
Once we arrive at the falls, we had our brunch and Kaleigh even jumped into the water for a brief period. The falls was really nice and we ended up spending quite a bit of time there before hiking back. It turned out to be a great day, it is hard to beat bears and waterfalls!