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Latest update: Sept. 2018

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Great Smoky Mountains Biking

The most visited National Park in the United States, Great Smoky Mountains National Park takes our breath away each time we visit. In both Tennessee and North Carolina, there's something for everyone with 400 miles of roads, various trails, rivers and streams, waterfalls, diverse wildlife including a large black bear population, camping, hiking, and historic settlements. Accommodations, restaurants, shops, and tourist attractions are nearby. All roads are open to biking, and while the steep ride and narrow roads are not recommended for the recreational biker there are, however, several areas where casual recreational biking is possible including Cades Cove, Cataloochee Valley, Tremont (Middle Prong Road). There are no mountain biking trails in the park. Also visit nearby Townsend and the pleasant, paved Townsend Historical Trail.

Bike Map...
Great Smoky Mountains

View Larger Map external
Location: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina (See map)
Distance: Various
Surface: Paved and unpaved roads
Support and Advocacy: Friends of the Smokies external

Bike Shops/Rentals:
Cades Cove Bikes external (park concessionaire)

Scroll down or click on the links below for more details: :
Cades Cove
Cataloochee Valley
Tremont and Middle Prong Road

Cades Cove

Cades Cove in the northwest portion of the Park in Tennessee is one of the most popular destinations in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Traffic jams are common as people stop to admire the scenery and watch the wildlife including black bear and deer. Biking is best from May through September when the road is closed to auto traffic until 10 a.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Parking is available at the start of the loop, at the concession area, and at several spots along the loop (see map).

The 11-mile loop includes churches, homes, and other 18th and 19th century buildings with a self-guided tour booklet available. Some of the hills are quite steep, we admit to walking part of the way. Take a shortcut at Sparks Lane for a 4-mile loop, or at Hyatt Lane for an 8-mile loop. The Cove was settled in the 1800's and dismantled in the 1930's on creation of the National Park. (Sept. 2018)

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Parking Onto the loop road Views along the loop road
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One of several historic homes One of three churches Deer Bear Turkeys
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Traffic jam On the Sparks Lane shortcut - stream flows over the road Bike shop/rentals at campground

Cataloochee Valley

Cataloochee consists of three valleys in the southeast area of the Park in North Carolina, a remote area in the Balsam Mountain range. Originally a Cherokee hunting ground, settlers moved in during the 1800's and the settlement grew to became one of the largest in the area (1,200 inhabitants), known for its farms and orchards. The community was dissolved upon creation of the National Park in the 1930's. Today, as in Cades Cove, a few historical buildings exist with exhibits that provide a glimpse of life in the valley. Very scenic, with a variety of wildlife including elk. The valley is relatively flat for easy biking. (Sept. 2013)

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Entering Cataloochee Valley Road into the valley is narrow and twisty with no guard rails Biking in the Cataloochee Valley
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Historical map View along the
access road
Caldwell Place (1903) After nearing extinction, elk were reintroduced into the Park in 2001. These were near the ranger station at the Messer Barn (1902) Bobcat and Mudfish in the Cataloochee Valley

Tremont and Middle Prong Road

Tremont Institute is an outdoors and wildlife learning center. Tremont Road past the institute goes up the mountain along the Middle Prong Little River and is one of the most scenic areas in the Smokies. The pavement ends past the Institute, and the 3-mile ride gets steeper at the top - we did walk part of the way. The road ends at the top, and a bridge crosses the river to several hiking trails. The hike along the Middle Prong Trail is well worth it, with scenic waterfalls and cascades. (Sept. 2018)

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At Tremont Institute Along Tremont Road (Middle Prong Little River) - paved and unpaved sections Parking at road end Hiking trails across the bridge
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Start of hiking trails Along Middle Prong Trail (hiking) Equestrians

Also visit: Townsend Historical Trail

Related Links:
National Park Service-Great Smoky Mountains National Park external
National Park Service- Biking in Great Smoky Mountains National Park external