Bicycling is great exercise and an excellent way to get up close and personal with nature and the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area offers many exhilarating options for bicycle enthusiasts. For those who love to churn the wheels, get a good work out, and ride through scenic landscapes there is no better place.
While cyclists are not allowed to ride on most trails in Great Smoky Mountain National Park, some seasoned cyclists do pedal state roads through the park. However, because of steep ridges, narrow roads, and heavy traffic, these routes are only recommended for experienced road cyclists.
For those bicycle lovers who prefer a more relaxing ride there plenty of safer and just as scenic options to choose from in the Great Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area:
Cades Cove Loop Road: One of the few exceptions for riding in the national park, bicycles are allowed on the Cades Cove Loop Trail is allowed. Cyclists can enjoy this 11-mile loop road and view wildlife, visit historic cabins and take their time enjoying this spectacular valley. Bikes can be rented from Cades Cove during the fall and summer (865)-448-9034. For a carefree and quieter tour of Cades Cover rise early on a Wednesday or Saturday to journey through this scenic treasure. The park closes Cades Cove Loop Road to automobiles until 10 am on these days from the second week in May-September.
Townsend Bicycle Trail: This 3-mile paved trail is located in Townsend, TN and parallels Highway-US 321. Cyclists can expect rolling hills and spectacular views of the Smoky Mountains as they ride along. This is a great trail for the family and children of all ages. Portions of the trail run along the Little River, and bicyclists have access to restaurants, shops, and motels along the way. Parking is available at both ends of this trail.
Gatlinburg Trail One of the few other trails open to bicycles in the park, this trail is the perfect family friendly bike route through the forest. This trail travels 1.9 miles from the Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg. Cyclists will ride on a relatively flat path through forest and the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River. Foundations, chimneys and remains of historic homes can be seen along this trail. And you are only about 15 minutes from Elk Springs Resort.
Foothills Parkway: For experienced road cyclists this 16.5-mile stretch of road that carves through the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains is a favorite. Foothill Parkway, which runs between US 321 and US 129, proves a challenge with steep grades and sharp turns. However, this road biking route has significantly less traffic than other roads running through the park.
Forge Creek Road/Parsons Branch Road: For the avid mountain biker, this gravel road that leads you to the Gregory Bald Trail, just past the turnoff for the Cades Cove Visitors Center, proves a to be an adventure. Mountain bikers can huff it up a 5.4 mile one way route to the crest of Hannah Mountain and back. To avoid traffic on your ride the best time to do this trail is when it is closed to automobile traffic. Check with the Cades Cove Visitors Center for details on this.
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