I haven't been on Parson's Branch yet this year; but it is an extremely fun ride. Especially hitting the water crossings on a hot day I'll most likely take a trip up there this coming week. I'll post a report if I do.
I've been here in the Smokies for the last 5 days and am headed back to MI Thursday. Parson's Creek Road is in good shape, just a few bumps. The creek crossing are running shallow, although the last one made a good splash. Don't believe you will see many deer or bears seeing the terrain is thick and steep. We did see bears both time in the Cades Cove loop, they say the bears are active this year. Rich Mt. road out of Cades Cove was fun also. On our trip in we came down 40 and took Waterville to Mount Sterling and then Forest Rd. 288 back to 40. Was a nail bitter for the wife seeing it's one lane track through the mountains, she was worried because you could not see if someone was coming. This is on the east end of the park. Had a great time in my Jeep driving through the park.
I believe it's Parson Branch Rd. which branches off from the Southwest end of Cades Cove. Mt. Sterling is a nice long trek through the mountains. It's located on the Northeast end of the park off Waterville Rd. (Exit 451 on 40).