Staying in Gatlinberg, Tennessee, at edge of Smoky Mountain Nat'l Park for a week. Have road bike (and mountain bike too) with me. I know nothing of the area. Any suggestions on routes greatly appreciated.
I used to live near that area, and my folks still live there, so whenever I go home for a visit I ride from the Sugarlands Visitor Center to Cades Cove and back. It's a tough ~50 mile ride thru the heart of the park, and its also the only road thru the mountains, so vehicle traffic can be very heavy ~ especially on the weekends.
I've also ridden from the visitor center to Clingman's Dome (the highest elevation in the park at 6,643' elevation) which is a very difficult 3 hour uphill ride but a fantastic 30 minute return descent. Not recommended if you do not like going uphill
I've ridden the Cades Cove loop before, pretty nice. But it was rough as a comb. Pretty hairy for a road bike in places.
Everywhere else around Gatlinburg traffic is crazy and there are rarely any shoulders.
I bet there's some good riding off the beaten path around Pigeon Forge and Sevierville.
There's no MTB allowed in Smoky National Park so you're out of luck there. The only place I know of to MTB anywhere in that neck of the woods (good riding that's legal that is) is "Tsali" near Fontana Dam on tne NC side. Tsali is at LEAST a 2 hour drive from Gatlinburg and I'm assuming you'l be with the family so disappearing for most of the day would not be doable. You might try posting over on MTBR on the Tennesee board and maybe some locals can help you with some info...maybe even hook up with some of those locals for a guided tour.
I'd say your best bet is to take the road bike and get your ride in at the crack of dawn before tourist traffic mania begins. Lotsa' nice long climbs to bust your lungs out.
Another option is to hook up with the Smoky Mountain Wheelmen for one of their regularly scheduled club rides in/around Knoxville, TN (about 1-1/2 hour drive from G'burg) .
I met up with this group once or twice and they always seem to be happy to meet other bikers. Their website is pretty awesome too, since they post cue sheets for their most common rides, so even if you can't make it to a scheduled ride, you can always download the cue sheet and go solo.
As Skidoo notes, the Little River Road from Sugarlands Visitor Center to Townsend is pretty nice. I don't think traffic is too bad on week days, especially if you do it early in the day. The climb up 441 to Clingman's Dome is a fun challenge, if you can avoid/tolerate the traffic. For that reason, it's not a recommended weekend ride.
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