One of the most fun things to do in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is to Bike Cades Cove. Cades Cove is an 11 mile loop through some gorgeous scenery of the Smoky Mountains. Along the way you can stop and explore cabins, streams and trails. If your lucky you can spot deer, turkeys and often black bears are seen along the road. I have been biking the Cade Cove loop since I was 10 year old, so I have put together some easy tips for Biking Cades Cove that will make your trip more enjoyable.
Take advantage of biking with no cars
Every year from May-September the Cades Cove loop is closed to cars on Wednesday and Saturday mornings until 10 am. If you want to bike, especially with kids, this is the time to go. Bikes and walkers are welcome anytime, even with cars, but it is much more enjoyable to have the road to yourself with no motorized vehicles. If you are biking at this time be aware that there are also folks who walk the loop and to watch out for them as you travel.
Watch Out for Wildlife
One of the great joys of Cades Cove is being able to see a lot of wildlife. Most days you will see deer and turkeys. Black Bears are the prize though and everyone gets excited when they see one. If you are so lucky to see a black bear, PLEASE pull your bikes off the road to allow others to pass. Amazingly enough, not everyone wants to stop and see the bears, so they need a clear path to go through. You would be amazed at the number of bike accidents that have happened because people saw a bear and blocked the entire road. My daughter was in one of these, so please be courteous.
Learn Biking Etiquette
To keep everyone safe there is biking etiquette and rules of the road just like driving a car. When you are biking you should stay to the right, like you are in the right lane. If you are biking with a large group (which is a lot of fun and we have done often) be courteous and don’t spread out over the width of the road. There will be bikers who will want to pass you. If you need to pass someone, pass on their left and give them a warning with your bell (if you have one) plus a loud “passing on your left” so they know you are coming. If you need to stop for any reason please pull off the road entirely for everyone’s safety. There are several big hills on the Cade Cove loop. If you need to stop and walk your bike up please stay to the right to allow others who may be going faster than you to pass. Learning and practicing these tips will help keep everyone safe.
ALWAYS wear a helmet. Tennessee state law requires children under 16 to wear a helmet, but I preach everyone should wear a helmet. In fact, they will turn you around at the entrance if your kids do not have a helmet on. I have see too many bike accidents to ever try biking without one. They do save lives. WEAR YOUR HELMET!
There are “Shortcuts”
If you feel like you don’t want to do the whole 11 mile loop there are “shortcuts” you can take. The first one is Sparks lane which will make a 3 mile loop. The second is an 8 mile trip and is named Hyatt lane . Each shortcut has a gravel road that you must take before getting back on the main road. I have taken the 8 mile loop several times with my kids and it is a fun ride.
You can rent bike if you don’t have your own
The Cades Cove campground store has bikes and helmets for rent if you do not have your own. To bike the Cove will take between 1-2 hours, but to really enjoy exploring you will want to give yourself 3 hours on your bike rental. There are also bathrooms at the camp store and at one spot half way through the Cades Cove loop. Remember to pack water for your ride too.
Biking Cade Cove is a popular activity, so get there early. This will give you more time to enjoy the Cove without cars. The main parking lot fills quickly, but they do open other parking spots for the crowds. July is the most popular month and you will find lots of fellow bikers on holiday weekends.
More Great Smoky Mountain Travel Tips
Have you ever visited Cades Cove?
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