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Biking Cades Cove Loop

Indianapolis
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Biking Cades Cove Loop

We are thinking about biking the Cade Cove Loop - I heard the road is closed to cars Saturday and Wednesday mornings until 10 am? The problem is we need to rent bikes, and it sounds like the Bike Rental at Cades Cove does not open until 9am? Does anyone know if they open any earlier? I'm not thrilled with sharing the road with cars, would much rather have just bike traffic.

Also, how difficult is the ride? My research shows it is 11 miles, but I'm not sure how many, and how steep, the hills are. Has anyone done this loop on a bike?

Thanks for any insight.

Paris, Tn
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for Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge
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1. Re: Biking Cades Cove Loop

I myself have never done the "loop" on bicycle, but nearly every time we do Cades Cove by car, there are other visitors on bikes. There are some "sorta steep" inclines in the road. If I'm not wrong, there will be signs where the road go's down any steep grade, advising you to walk your bike downhill. (to avoid losing control, and running into a car)

P.S. From what I've read in some of these posts, the bikes that are available to rent in the Cove are not really all that great.

Ray

Chickamauga, Georgia
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2. Re: Biking Cades Cove Loop

No worries, the bike rental store is open very early (7:00 AM I believe) on Wednesdays and Saturdays when the loop road is closed for bike purposes.

I would suggest getting there as early as possible to make sure you get a "good" bike. Some of those I've seen rented from the bike shop there are not in top condition. Last thing you want is to be 1/2 around the loop road, and your bike break down on you.

When you rent one, be sure to ride it around the parking lot quite a bit to make sure you are comfortable with it. If not, take it back to the shop and ask for a different one.

Please note as well that this isn't a "leasure" ride around the loop road. It has several places where the hills are difficult to climb, especially on the back side. Seems to me, the older I get, the harder those hills are to climb too. :>)

Edited: 11:14 am, May 02, 2011
Cullowhee, North...
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3. Re: Biking Cades Cove Loop

Here is my 2 cents..I have never rented a bike from the Cades Cove concessionaire, but I have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express. As I recall the bikes are limited in gearing and as Kat points out, this 11 miles is 11 miles of mild to some steep rolling hills. The rental bikes to me look "painful" to say the least. If there is anyway to find a mountain bike rental company in either Gburg or the Forge, I would encourage renting a mountain bike to give you a range of gears to make the day more enjoyable. I would call the rental place in the Cove and find out more about their bikes and do research here before you go.

Indiana
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4. Re: Biking Cades Cove Loop

I biked the loop last year on a Saturday morning, while the road was closed to cars. I used rented bikes from the cades cove campground. The bike rental does open at 7 a.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays. I found the bikes a little beat up, but serviceable. I'd also suggest taking a minute to familiarize yourself with the gears, etc. in the parking lot. Once you get onto the road, there's not alot of flat areas to try out the gears.

I found several hills too steep to bike up (I'm also from the flatlands of Indiana), but I had no problems walking up them. I would really recommend biking the Cades Cove loop. I've driven it many times, but never really appreciated it until I biked it.

When I was there last year, there were volunteers stationed around the loop to assist cyclists in need. I was also pleasantly surprised by the level of camaraderie among the riders. People were stopping, laughing, chatting with other groups, pointing out wildlife, etc. I think we all felt like it was special experience to have the loop to ourselves. I highly recommend it.

Indianapolis
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5. Re: Biking Cades Cove Loop

HoosierAnn - Thanks for the report - I was questioning whether hubby and myself should bike the loop, or just do the drive. Now, I am more in favor of biking again. So, when you say thee is not a lot of flat areas to try the gears - does this mean most of the loop are hills - just not hard hills (except for the couple mentioned)? Rolling hills seems acceptable, not fond of steep hills - its good to know there are people stationed around the loop in case there is a problem.

Chickamauga, Georgia
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6. Re: Biking Cades Cove Loop

There are a few flat areas to cruise on a bike, but the majority of the loop road is some sort of hill or another, with several being pretty steep to go up (but oh so fun to come down!!).

Why don't you try to go and drive the road a day or so before you decide for sure if you want to try biking it. That way you can see for yourself if you think you could handle it.

Indianapolis
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7. Re: Biking Cades Cove Loop

Kat_Cubs_fan - Probably a good idea. We will most likely do just that. Thanks!

Indiana
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8. Re: Biking Cades Cove Loop

The loop road is all pretty much up hill or down, but not at a very steep grade except for a handful of hills.

Also, there are two shortcuts in the Cades Cove loop, which would allow you to shorten the trip by a few miles. I don't remember the exact distances, but I'd guess that the first shortcut would make a 4 mile circuit, and taking the second would make it an 8 mile circuit. At least one family walked the first shortcut, pulling their children in a wagon. So it wasn't very far.

If you do bike it though, I would get start before 8 a.m. so you can take your time enjoying the scenery. They open the road right at 10 a.m. to motor vehicles. When I was leaving, there was a line that went back almost a half mile of cars and trucks waiting for the road to open.

Hope that helps!

Byron, Georgia
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9. Re: Biking Cades Cove Loop

We were going to try and bike the loop to the first shortcut with our kids who are 11,6,5. If there are lots of hills, do you think it would be too hard for them?

Indiana
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10. Re: Biking Cades Cove Loop

I've never biked the loop with children. When I was there, I did see some children in the 9-11 age range biking all the way around, and they seemed fine. I would think your 11 year old wouldn't have a problem with the shortcut, but I don't know about the smaller two. I'm reluctant to speculate, for fear I'd give you bad advice.

The bike rental place has a map that they hand out to anyone renting a bike. It shows distances and has a profile of elevation of the whole loop on it. Unfortunately, I threw mine out, but perhaps if you call the rental place, they could give you an idea of whether it's suitable for your younger children. Alternatively, you could get a copy of the map from them, and judge for yourself.

I should also mention a warning about the first cut-off - I believe it is a gravel road, and I think it cuts across a small streambed. When we were there, people were having no problems crossing it (it was more like a small puddle) but I might check with the rangers station if there has been alot of rain.