Cycling the Cades Cove Loop Road

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

This past weekend my wife and I returned from another trip to the Great Smoky Mountains. On this visit we accomplished several firsts - including our first elk sighting in the Smokies, as well as our first visit to the Cataloochee area.

Last Wednesday we also had a chance to ride a bicycle around Cades Cove for the very first time. Let me tell you, other than actually walking it, cycling the loop road is absolutely the best way to see the Cove. Not having to sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic offers a completely different experience as well as a different perspective of Cades Cove. You can ride at your own pace and enjoy the peace, quiet and tranquility of this truly special place.

Now I’m not recommending riding the loop at anytime. I’m referring to taking the opportunity to ride the loop when it’s closed to motor traffic on Wednesday and Saturday mornings.

With brand new pavement recently laid down, we originally intended to bring our road bikes to the park. However, due to some roof rack issues, we decided to just go with some rentals from the Cades Cove Campground Store – a decision we really regretted. The mountain bikes we rented were in pretty bad condition. In addition to being forced to ride in an extreme forward position, I had shifting problems during the entire ride. The front brakes on Kathy’s bike didn’t work properly - effectively doubling her stopping distance and increasing her risk of crashing. Also, the quick release on her seat stem failed on several occasions resulting in her seat dropping while riding up hills.

When we returned we told the attendant about the problems and told them that they really needed to take better care of their bikes.

Honestly, until the store corrects these problems, you’re probably better off digging out that old rusted Huffy (with the banana seat) out of your attic.

We did discover one advantage with the rentals, however. Riding mountain bikes allowed us to ride on Sparks and Hyatt Lanes – something I highly recommend in order to explore the interior of the Cove.

Below are a few photos from our ride.

Over the next several days I’ll be sharing hike reports and other photos from our visit.

For more information on cycling in the Smokies, please click here.

Need cycling gear? Both the Nantahala Outdoor Center and Altrec Outdoors offer a wide variety of gear to get you properly outfitted for your next ride.

Jeff Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, and more.

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