Bicycling in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Do you think going on vacation means leaving your bicycle at home? That is not the case when you come to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You can vacation in the Smokies without leaving your bicycling routine behind!
Bicycling is a fun way to exercise, and many avid bicyclists bring their bike with them. If transporting your bike is not practical, you can rent one after you arrive.
Forget the confines of your car. See the Smokies up close and personal from the seat of a bike. Cover more territory in less time by avoiding long lines of cars.
Bicycle safety is important no matter where you ride. Riding inside the park presents some unique situations, requiring a few rules and regulations.
You may bicycle on most of the roads within the park. However, park administrators have determined that some roads are not suitable for bike riding due to the following conditions.
- The road is too steep
- The road is too narrow
- There is a lot of traffic on the road
These road conditions present challenges for maintaining bicycle safety while navigating park roads. Some roads may be closed for these reasons while others remain open. Consider these factors before heading out on a bike.
IMPORTANT: Helmet laws in Tennessee and North Carolina require children age 16 and under to wear a helmet. Older riders would do well to set an example, be safe, and wear a helmet as well.
Ride bicycles that are the correct size for your height and weight. Ride a well-maintained bike equipped with rear view mirrors. This makes for a safer day in the mountains. Oh, one last reminder…obey the traffic regulations.
IMPORTANT: Riding bicycles on the main roads of Great Smoky Mountains National Park can be dangerous. Consider the curved narrow roads and the high traffic in the summer when determining whether you should ride. Only experienced bikers should ride on these heavily trafficked roads.
Now that we have covered the do and don’ts, here are some good places to ride your bicycle.
Places to Ride Bicycles in the Park
Bicycling in Cades Cove
Cades Cove is a popular place for bicycling in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Cades Cove Loop Road is an eleven mile, one-way road meandering through the most popular destination in the park. Your tour of the loop includes opportunity to see wildlife, and to go inside historic homes, churches, etc., built in the 19th century.
The campground store located near the Cades Cove Campground rents bicycles in the summer and fall. Call 865-448-9034 for more information.
Traditionally, every year from early May until late September, on Wednesday and Saturday mornings until 10:00 am, the loop closes to motor traffic. Only bicyclists and pedestrians may use the road at this time.
Temporary Trial Period for Bicycles, Pedestrians, and Motorized Vehicles
The National Park Service is conducting a trial from 17 June to 30 September 2020 allowing no access of motorized vehicles to Cades Cove on Wednesdays. The good news for anyone driving in Cades Cove, is that during the trial period, Cades Cove Loop Road will now be open to automobiles on Saturday mornings. See our article in this trial period for more information.
So mark your calendars and save these week day mornings as a time for all the exhaust free, noise free, open road exercise and adventure that you can muster.
Bicycling on Park Trails
As a rule, bicycles are not allowed on park trails. On the other hand, bicyclists may enjoy four park trails while riding their bicycles.
Bicyclists may ride on Gatlinburg and Oconaluftee Trails from end to end. Deep Creek and Indian Trails allow bicycles on the trail to the point where the gravel road ends and the forest trail begins.
There are no mountain biking trails in the park.