In the event of an emergency in the park, dial 911 or call the Park Emergency Line at (865) 436-9171.
Dealing with Hazards, Getting Lost, and Injuries.
Trail Maps help you prevent becoming lost so it is important to have a map of the Cades Cove trails when coming to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. If you have no map and do get lost, officials of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park advise you to stay on the trail where you may be more easily found. Bringing a flashlight and a whistle on your hike in GSMNP is also a good idea. Both can bring you comfort when you are out on the trail after dark as both can lead searchers to you. Also, the popular trails in GSMNP are well traveled and so it is harder to become truly lost if you are hiking on one of them.
When coming to Cades Cove, it is a good idea to let someone know which trail you are taking and when you expect to get back. That way, if you are late, someone will know to notify park officials. In that event, The Great Smoky Mountain National Park officials will send a search team to look for you. The search teams will look on the trails first, so if you are lost, stay on the trail. If you must spend the night while lost on a trail in Cades Cove, find shelter as close to the trail as possible. It may be helpful to leave a signal on the trail such as a message made of rocks telling where you are.
It is relatively rare in relation to the numbers of hikers coming to the Smokies, but injuries sometime occur in Cades Cove as elsewhere in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Officials counsel that “if someone is injured and can’t be moved to a trailhead (start of the trail) do the following: provide warmth and comfort; leave someone with the injured person; note the exact location and circumstances; and send someone to hike out to get GSMNP rescuers.
It is important to stay well hydrated when hiking in the Smoky Mountains surrounding Cades Cove. Dayhikers should bring a container of drinking water on all hikes. Cove backpackers should be prepared to treat all water before drinking it. Officials of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park recommend water purification by means of boiling for one minute. Even clear, cold running water found in the purest looking stream in the park could produce illness due to bacteria and viruses.
A danger of becoming lost or being on one of the Cades Cove trails is getting hypothermia. Hypothermia means to become so cold that your body cannot maintain it’s own heat. Hypothermia develops when a person is over exposed to wind, rain or cold. These elements can be present at the higher elevations surrounding Cades Cove even in the summertime, although by far, most hypothermia cases happen in the early spring and fall when hikers are more likely not to dress appropriately for the Smokies.
Hypothermia can happen to anyone in any season of the year while hiking in the Smoky Mountains if they do not take proper precaution. To prevent hypothermia, Cades Cove hikers should drink a lot of water–as much as two quarts for long mountainous hikes. Also, rest along the trail is needed to prevent over fatigue. Hikers in and around Cades Cove and other Smokies areas should eat high-energy snacks that will help your body stay warm. In general don’t wear your self out while walking through the mountains that your body can better handle wind, rain or cold temperatures.
Important to preventing hypothermia while hiking in Cades Cove, hikers should always carry rain gear as storms arise quickly in the Smokies. Ponchos or rain jackets are generally sufficient for summer hikes, but rain pants should be carried if hiking in the spring, winter or fall. The Great Smoky Mountain National Park officials also recommend Cades Cove hikers dress in layers plus bringing something which can keep you warm even if it becomes wet such as garments made of fleece or wool. Also carrying a warm hat on mountain hikes in cold or changeable weather is a good idea as most heat is lost through your head.
Another way to prevent hypothermia while hiking Cades Cove is to hike in groups of two or more. Hiking companions can help you recognize hypothermia in it’s early stages. When hiking the trails in Cades Cove both you and your companion should know the signs of hypothermia. The signs are drowsiness, fumbling hands, memory lapse, stumbling, slurred speech, and prolonged or uncontrolled shivering. If either you or your hiking companion show these signs while in GSMNP, the other person should try to warm the victim. Someone with hypothermia needs shelter, warm clothing and, if possible, a warm beverage. Well prepared hikers bring waterproof matches in case they get in trouble with hypothermia while walking in Cades Cove.