SMOKIES — Cyclists can enjoy the magic of Cades Cove every Wendesday this summer without jockeying with cars along the tranquil valley loop road in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The Cades Cove loop road is an 11-mile circuit through an idyllic valley ringed by mountains and lined with historic structures from early Appalachian pioneer days. It is mostly flat, making it a great family ride.
It takes about 2 hours to bike the loop road, but allow 4 in order to stop and explore along the way, take photos and have a picnic.
There are also two turn-offs along the way that make for a shoreter route.
The vehicle-free Wednesdays run from May 5-Sept. 1. Pedestrians may also walk in Cades Cove on the vehicle-free days.
Vehicle-free days are so popular, however, that there can be crowds. They are typically heavier in the mornings, so try coming the second half of the day or early evenings.
Parking is limited, and parking lots often fill to capacity during the early morning hours. Parking along the roadside isn’t permitted, and is enforced by rangers. So if you don’t get there early enough to get a spot, you have to wait until spots begin to turn over around mid-day.