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Best Bike Trails & Rides, Great Smoky Mountains

Bryson City Mountain Biking | Rides + Trails

Boone Bike Trails

Bryson City offers a bevy of great options for mountain biking and road rides. Whether you’re looking to flow down some Tsali Singletrack or climb the Road to Nowhere, you’ll find some great options. Read on for a few of our recommended mountain bike rides and road rides in Bryson City, NC.

Bryson City Mountain Biking | Rides + Trails

Bryson City Bike RidesBryson City Biking Expert: Tsali Cycles

Address: 35 Slope St, Bryson City, NC || 828-488-9010

Tsali Mountain BikingTsali Trails – Mountain Biking, Moderate to Strenuous (N 35.4062, W -83.5858): Oconaluftee River Trail, the Gatlinburg Trail, and the Deep Creek Trail are the only paths in the park that permit biking. Each is a gravel surface path or road-width grade with pleasant scenery. Check Walking Adventures page 10 for details on all three trails. However, head a short distance from the park for one of the East’s best destinations for off-road riding-the Tsali trails. From the Tsali Campground, more than 40 miles of trails wind around the peninsulas of Fontana Lake with great views of the lake and the Smokies. Tsali Campground abuts the trail network with showers, flush toilets, and 42 sites.

Directions: From Bryson City, take US19/74 W. Turn right on NC 28 N and in 3 miles, turn right again on the road to the campground. Park in the lot signed for bikers.

National Park Road Rides – Road Ride, Strenuous (N 35.6031, W -83.4494): From Newfound Gap, Clingmans Dome Road is a 14 mile roundtrip ride on a gradually rising road with great views. The Cherokee Orchard Loop Road (3 miles) and the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail (8 miles) are other choice scenic roads. From Cherokee, the Big Cove Road is a nice loop with access to the two-way segment of the Balsam Mountain Road. Be advised that the presence of motorists unsure of mountain driving means that winding roads in the park may not make the best rides. Be sure to choose off season when traffic is light if road riding is your goal.

Directions: Clingmans Dome Rd. leaves Newfound Gap Rd. about 13 miles south of the Sugarlands Visitor Center and 16 miles north of the Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee.

Tsali Mountain Biking Tsali CyclesCades Cove – Road Ride, Easy to Moderate (N 35.6047, W -83.7748): Cyclists are welcome on the 11-mile scenic loop at all times but the best idea is to ride early on Wednesday or Saturday when the loop road is closed until 10 am so cyclists (and pedestrians) rule the road. This is the perfect time to breeze through the valley and really see wildlife. Two gravel roads bisect the loop permitting an extended figure eight that lengthens the ride. If that’s your plan, stay at Cades Cove Campground and start early. The Campground itself is a nice bike spot—and it offers bike rentals! Be sure to check out the various historic structures along the way. Keep in mind that the Parson Branch Road makes a nice out and back addition to the loop in the vicinity of Cable Mill Visitor’s Center.

Directions: From the US 321/TN 73 intersection in Townsend, drive 2.3 miles into the park and go right onto Laurel Creek Rd. at the junction where TN 73 continues left as Little River Rd. From here, the Cades Cove Loop is 7.5 miles. At 5.1 miles, turn right on a half-mile access road to the trailhead.

The “Road to Nowhere” – Road Ride, Moderate (N 35.4462, W-82.4551): When Fontana Lake was built in the 1940s, the federal government pledged to build a road along its northern shore for displaced local people to access family cemeteries. The government stopped construction when environmental concerns came up, then abandoned building the road. Only in early 2010 was the bitter dispute settled with a $52 million payment to Swain County. Now the dead end road (17 miles roundtrip) is a great bike ride that includes a scenic lake overlook. A 1,000-foot tunnel where the road ends is a unique point of interest.

Directions: Park in Bryson City near US 19 and take Everett St. north which becomes Fontana Rd.

Greenbrier Gravel Road – Mountain Biking, Easy (N 35.7386, W -83.4163): Less traveled and gravel roads make great rides for mountain bikers. A good example is the Greenbrier Road near Gatlinburg. It’s a paved then gravel road past the Greenbrier Ranger Station and Campground to two dead end trailheads for the Ramsay Cascade and Brushy Mountain Trails (biking not permitted on these trails). From US 321/TN 73 it’s an 11-mile round trip to both trailheads and back to your car.

Directions: Leave Gatlinburg with a turn from US 441 on US 321 at stoplight #3. In 6 miles, turn right into the national park on Greenbrier Rd. The road goes gravel beyond the Greenbrier Ranger Station at 3 miles.

Bryson City Bike RidesBryson City Biking Expert: Tsali Cycles

Address: 35 Slope St, Bryson City, NC || 828-488-9010

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