Cycling Cades Cove
Published 11:59 am Tuesday, October 4, 2022
We recently headed up to Great Smoky Mountain National Park for a family camping trip.
Cades Cove was our destination. For those that have never been, it is a beautiful and
accessible area of the park that allows plenty of wildlife viewing from the road.
Our plan was to take the family’s bikes along for a leisurely ride around the one way loop
inside Cades Cove. We are normally hikers, but tried cycling as a new way to explore the park.
Carrying bikes on a trip sounds easy enough, until you try to load them on your vehicle. I
borrowed a 4-bike carrier from a friend that mounted in the hitch of my truck. Very soon, I
realized that four bikes were not going to fit easily.
By “very soon,” I really mean 45 minutes of head scratching, mumbling, and contemplating
why we were bringing these dumb bikes anyways.
I finally gave up and threw two bikes on the rack, one on the roof, and one on the luggage
in the back of the truck.
Once we arrived at the campsite with four bikes, the kids immediately joined the biker
gang in the campground. They seemed mostly peaceful. I didn’t hear any reports of s’mores
being stolen or trip lines with tent cord being set.
The next morning, we donned our helmets and took off on two wheels to ride around “The
I’ve never noticed the hills on this loop, but then again, I was using gasoline to get up
them, not leg power. My wife and I made it up the little hills just fine. Our kids on the other hand struggled a bit.
Let’s just say it is easier to ride one bike up a hill than to push two. Besides the few hills
that turned to hikes instead of rides, we loved riding through the meadows and forests with the
wind in our hair.
The highlight of the ride was a spot where the creek went over the road. Even though
there was only a half inch of water to ride through, the kids felt like they were fording the
They smiled as the splashed through at full speed, covering the back of their clothes with
a line of water.
All in all, taking the bikes to Cades Cove was a success. If you plan on going with a bike,
I suggest going on a Wednesday. The loop is closed to vehicles that day.
The tough part about cycling with vehicles present, is most drivers slow down on the
down hill and speed up on the uphill. Therefore we were waiting on cars going downhill, and a large number of vehicles got to watch me walk up the road pushing two bikes.
We had been to Cades Cove many times, but seeing it from a bike was a new adventure
for the whole family. We will definitely do it again, but I assure you it will definitely be on a