Rather than enjoying the wonderful scenery of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park by hiking or auto touring, you can rent a bicycle and take a ride on the Smoky Mountains National Park biking trails with some of the best views. Biking is a different way to explore some of the great wildlife and nature the park has to offer. There are a few trails available for biking, and you will want to have a look for yourself while visiting these 3:
Cades Cove Loop
Cades Cove Loop is the most popular biking area this side of the Smoky Mountains. If you aren’t familiar with the area, you may not know there are not trails designated for biking within the park because of steep terrain, vehicle traffic and other hazards. However, Cades Cove Loop is the one exception. During the months the area has its most visitors, May through September, the park closes the loop to automobile traffic on Wednesdays and Saturday mornings, so bikers and those traveling on foot can enjoy Cades Cove up close. The loop is an 11 mile one-way road that has plenty of history, wildlife and nature to show. When biking the Cades Cove Loop, you will get to see some of the area’s first major settlements, and you will also have the chance to see some native animals, such as the white-tailed deer, up close. Even though it is one of the most popular sights to see in the area, keep in mind the 11 mile loop is somewhat strenuous, and could take 2-4 hours to complete on a bicycle.
If you are interested in a much shorter trail that is more leisurely and takes less time to complete, you will enjoy taking a bike ride down the Gatlinburg Trail. This trail is only 1.9 miles long, and is one-way. It is near to Sugarlands Visitor Center just outside of downtown Gatlinburg. As you travel down this trail, you will be biking alongside the Little Pigeon River, and you will also find remains of older foundations and chimneys from earlier settlements in the area. This Smoky Mountains National Park biking trail is a great place to view some of the wonderful history the area has to offer. Automobiles are not allowed on the Gatlinburg Trail, but the trail is open to walkers, joggers and pets. In fact, it’s one of only 2 pet friendly trails in the national park!
Oconaluftee River Trail
Like the Gatlinburg Trail, the Oconaluftee River Trail is also prohibited for automobiles, but permits its use for walkers, joggers and pets. The main sight to see when traveling this trail is the Oconaluftee River, which is where the trail gets its name. You will have many opportunities to see the beauty of the river while biking on the trail. It is 1.5 miles long, one-way, from the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, and is mostly flat for easy travel. When riding on this path, you also have the chance to see some of the beautiful wildlife hidden within the Oconaluftee forest. This path is great for families with children, and those who are interested in a slow stroll through the park. Other than the Gatlinburg trail, this is the only other Smoky Mountains National Park biking trail that is pet friendly!
Also see our map and vacation guide for a park map and the best guide for your tour of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.