Great Smoky Mountains National Park Considers Building Mountain Bike Trail
Do you love biking in the Smoky Mountains? Then you’ll love hearing this news! There is a proposal to build a mountain bike trail network in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The trail system would be located on the 13-mile, unfinished section of the Foothills Parkway. Learn more about this proposal and biking in the Smoky Mountains below:
Mountain Bike Trail Proposal
Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials are seeking public input on a proposed mountain bike trail system. The trail network would be located on the unfinished section of the Foothills Parkway corridor, from Wears Valley to US 321. Mountain bikers have been pushing to see more trails in national parks for quite some time, so the mountain bike trail system in the Smoky Mountains would be a good response. In the proposal, park staff mentioned that although there are more than 800 miles of trails in the park, less than 8 miles are open to biking, and there are no by-design mountain biking trails. Park officials said that the proposed project is needed “because recreational access and opportunities are currently limited along unfinished sections of the Foothills Parkway.”
The mountain bike trail proposal stated, “The Foothills Parkway corridor, which is within the park’s transportation management zone and is not managed as wilderness, could provide visitors with new opportunities to experience the park through biking.”
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is requesting input from the public, and the last day to provide comments is August 19. You can submit your comments online.
Biking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Currently, only 3 trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park permit bicycles: the Gatlinburg Trail, the Oconaluftee River Trail and the lower Deep Creek Trail. Bicycles are prohibited on all other trails in the park. Although bicycles are permitted on most roads within the park, there are not many that are suited for safe and enjoyable bike riding. One road that is great for bicycles is the Cades Cove Loop Road. The Cades Cove Loop Road is an 11-mile, one-way loop that allows bicyclists to tour historic homesites, take in mountain views and see wildlife! Every Wednesday through September 30, the road is closed to vehicle traffic, which means bicyclists and pedestrians get the area all to themselves! Some other areas that are suitable for bikes are the Greenbrier and Tremont areas, and the Cataloochee Valley.
Building a mountain bike trail system on the unfinished section of the Foothills Parkway in Wears Valley will open up more opportunities for bicyclists to enjoy the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!
About the Foothills Parkway
The Foothills Parkway runs through the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. It consists of 33 miles connecting US 129 and US 321 in Tennessee. There is also a northern section of the Foothills Parkway that is 5.6 miles and connects I-40 to Cosby. If the bike trail system proposal is approved, it will take place on the almost 13 miles from Wears Valley to US 321, also known as the Gatlinburg Spur.
To learn more about the Foothills Parkway, read our blog, “Missing Link Along Foothills Parkway Completed After Decades-Long Wait.”