Trail: Elijah Oliver Trail
Type: Out & Back
Surface: Heavily Worn Packed Dirt & Gravel
Distance: 1 mile (RT)
Foot Traffic: Crowded
Restrooms: Cades Cove Visitor Center, Picnic Areas, (backcountry rules)
Highlights: Elijah Oliver Cabin, Black Bears, Deer, Several Outbuildings
Elijah Oliver Trail Trailhead
The Elijah Oliver Trail trailhead is located at the western end of Cades Cove on the Cades Cove Loop Road. Parking is available for about two dozen cars on the left hand side of the road. A small brown sign designates the parking area. It is stop #10 on the loop. The trailhead is across the street from the parking area.
Elijah Oliver Trail Background
Elijah Oliver was the son of John and Lucretia Oliver, the earliest known white settlers in Cades Cove (circa 1818). The Olivers built their family home and began farming and hunting. Others moved into the area and the farming community began to grow.
Elijah built the home on this trail (a short buggy ride away from his parent’s place) in 1866 and moved in with his new wife. When the Civil War began, residents divided their support between the Union and the Confederates.
Elijah decided to hide in the mountains until the war ended, and then returned. The Elijah Oliver home, corn crib, spring house, and smokehouse are all still standing in their original locations.
RELATED: A Brief History of Cades Cove
Elijah Oliver Trail Description
The Elijah Oliver trail is a well used, one mile (round trip), out and back, beginning at the Cades Cove Loop Road. The park service maintains the surface well; it consists of compact dirt and gravel.
Since this trail is easy to walk, very short, located in Cades Cove, and has several buildings to see, it is crowded. You will never walk alone on this trail.
The other cabins in Cades Cove are near the road. This is understandable considering travel was difficult in the 1800’s. A family would want their home to be easily accessible from the road; but not Elijah Oliver.
Elijah seems to have been a man who wanted his privacy. He built his home in the woods, a half mile from the main road.
A barn sits near the trail between the trailhead and the homestead, but it did not belong to Elijah Oliver. New owners of the land built it much later.
The materials used in the building of the barn were cut with more contemporary tools, and you can see the difference. Apparently, the barn was built just before the federal government took the land for the park in the 1930’s.
As in all of Cades Cove, wildlife goes where it wants to go. Frequent sightings of deer and black bear have occurred near the Elijah Oliver cabin and along the Elijah Oliver trail. If you see a black bear, do not panic, but be prepared.
RELATED: What to Do If You Encounter a Black Bear
Nearby Points of Interest
Abrams Falls Trail is the next stop on the Cades Cove Loop Road. It is a much longer hike, but the short Elijah Oliver Trail is a good warm-up. Outside Cades Cove are campgrounds, picnic areas, and the Townsend community.