Cades Cove Loop Road Bicycling
The sights and sounds of the Cades Cove Loop are best seen and enjoyed from riding a bicycle. The stillness and solitude are incredibly relaxing and wildlife are lyou can really enjoy the wildlife that spends time in the Cove. The Cades Cove Loop Road is closed to motor vehicles for the benefit of foot and bicycle traffic from sunrise until 10:00 a.m. every Saturday and Wednesday morning from mid-May to late September.
The wildlife animals come out in great numbers to feed on the lush grass and apple trees. It’s popular to go bicycling in the Smoky Mountains during the month of September because the temperatures will begin to fall as the fall weather makes its way to the Smokies.
Bicycles can be rented for $3.25 per hour from the Cades Cove store (located near Cades Cove Campground). Summer hours are 9-5 (7-7 on Wednesday and Saturday bicycle days). The last rentals are at 4:30 p.m.
Bike Riding in the Smoky Mountains in Cooler Weather
Early during the fall months is a traditionally excellent time to enjoy bicycle riding. The air is crisp and the colors of the trees are breathtaking. Riding at this time of year presents few problems. True, the early morning and evening hours can be somewhat chilled, but the simplest of preparations will cover any problems. Just grab a sweater or a light jacket and you’ll be well on your way to a wonderful biking experience.
The first consideration in preparing for winter biking is the clothing of the cyclist. A critical phenomenon in this regard is the concept of “core body heat”. This is the body heat generated by the body when exercising and is a major factor in selecting the proper clothing types. Because the body throws off large amounts of core body heat during the act of pedaling a bicycle, it is quite easy to overdress. The amount of clothing needed to be comfortable at a walking pace will be excessive for bicycling at a moderate pace. Many recommend biking in the Smoky Mountains in layers, especially in the winter months. Just be careful to not wear too many layers, or you’ll end up a little too warm. \
Here’s a few things you’ll need for bicycling, some of them for every season of the year:
- Helmet: The Mountain Safety Research helmet is quite excellent for wintertime cycling (and can save your life). You may find that on especially-cold days that you will want to put a small piece of foam rubber in one or more of the front ventilation holes and possibly wear a knit cap under the helmet to protect the ears.
- Glasses: Riding glasses can be worn to protect the eyes from tearing and falling leaves. Another benefit from wearing glasses is that a rear-view mirror (available at most bike shops) can easily be attached.
- Jacket: Easily the most critical single item of clothing, the jacket, should be selected with care. It should be a nylon windbreaker style, preferably of a bright color with reflective trim. Water proof models should be avoided, as these will cause you to sweat. The front closure should be by a zipper, not snaps. And the jacket should be unlined so as to allow heat to escape readily.
- Jersey: The jersey should be of 100% wool with long sleeves. Because the temperature varies so in the Southern Highlands, many riders have found that a short sleeved jersey can be worn if ‘arm warmers” are used on colder days. Since you will possibly be removing your jacket as you warm up, we would recommend a bright colored jersey.
- Shoes: These are fleece lined winter riding shoes made especially for cycling. Unfortunately these are often too hot for the temperate weather of this region. Pedal covers are available that allow you to use ordinary cycling shoes or you can resort to the expedient of putting a plastic bag on the outside of your sock to protect the feet from the chill.
Townsend Bike Path
This paved trail runs parallel to Highway 321 for 3 miles in Townsend TN. The start and finish are clearly marked by signs, so it’s an easy path for anyone. The bike path goes by the Townsend visitor center, restaurants and shops. It’s a very open path and filled with views of the mountains like you can’t see anywhere else!