Bicycling in the Smokies
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and surrounding areas supply tourists, townsfolk, and cycling enthusiasts with a vast number of biking trails and paved roads ranging in difficulty and mileage.
Bicycling in the national park itself is limited to its paved roads (with the exception of the Roaring Fork Motor Trail) and three nature trails - Gatlinburg Trail, Lower Deep Creek Trail, and Oconaluftee River Trail. Bicycles, along with any other type of off-road vehicle, are not allowed in the backcountry or on any of the vast number of hiking trails. Biking on the park's paved roads is permissible, but not recommended due to high traffic. Some of the popular bike trails in the park and in surrounding communities include:
Cades Cove Loop
An 11-mile paved loop road that travels around the Cades Cove area. Bicyclists are allowed to bike this road only on Wednesdays and Saturdays between sunrise and 10 a.m. The road is then open to vehicular traffic only until sunset.
Biking the Cades Cove Loop can take anywhere from two to four hours to complete, depending on your physical fitness level. The loop offers many opportunities for wildlife viewing and contains steep grades and blind corners. In fact, there are two places where you must walk your bike. If 11 miles is too long, you can use any of the side roads to lower the mileage. Don't have a bike? You can always rent one (along with the appropriate biking equipment) at the Cades Cove Store at the campground (865-448-9034).
Townsend Bicycle Path
A 10-mile, paved, linear-loop bicycle path that runs through downtown Townsend, Tennessee. The path runs parallel with US 321. Parking is available at both ends. The bicycle path passes by many restaurants, shops, and motels, as well as several historic sites.
Maryville-Alcoa Greenway Trails
Several bicycle paths link the cities of Maryville and Alcoa together, forming a network of various bike paths. The Greenway Trails network connects Springbook Park in Alcoa with Greenbelt Park and Sandy Springs Park in Maryville.
Little River Run
An 8.4-mile, linear bicycle path in Townsend, Tennessee, that runs from the Coulter Bridge on Walland Highway (TN State Route 73) to US 321, where it merges with the Townsend Bicycle Path.
A 4.5-mile loop of downtown Townsend, Tennessee. Starting at the Townsend Visitor Center, cross US 321 and go down Asher Howard Road. At the end of Asher Howard Road, take a left onto Old Highway 73, then take a right onto River Road. When River Road ends, take the bicycle path over to Webb Road, making a right turn.
After travelling a short distance on Webb Road, take a right onto Cedar Creek Road. Follow Cedar Creek Road all the way to Wears Valley Road and turn right. Continue on Wears Valley Road until you come to Old Highway 73 again and then take another right. After traveling on Old Highway 73, turn left onto Asher Howard Road to where you cross US 321. You will then end where you started, at the Visitor's Center.
Foothills Scenic Parkway
Bicycles are allowed on any portion of the Foothills Scenic Parkway.
Tsali Recreation Area
The Tsali Recreation Area is a section of the Nantahala National Forest that allows mountain biking on its over 40-mile loop system of trails. There are four main loop trails: Right Loop, Left Loop, Mouse Branch Loop, and Thompson Loop. These four trails alternate use between mountain bikes and horses. Two trails are guaranteed to be strictly mountain biking trails every day. The Tsali Recreation Area is located on a hilly peninsula that jets out into Fontana Lake. The trails offer great views of the lake and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the other side.
Annual Bike Events
River Road Time Trial
Tour de Blount
Tour de Cure
M S 150
Local Bike Rental & Equipment Shops