Smoky #8 – Biking in the Smokies!

Betty's bike at the Greenbrier Campground entrance.

This post will wrap up our two week stay in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. We camped at Greenbrier Campground located on the outskirts of the busy, touristy area. Even though it was on the outskirts, the Gatlinburg trolley had a stop right in the campground. We could then ride the trolley to the heart of the tourist activities in downtown Gatlinburg.

The campground was also located very close to the Greenbrier entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The entrance is about one fourth of a mile from the campground entrance and is across Highway 73, otherwise known as the East Parkway. Highway 73 can be quite busy, but there are breaks in traffic.

On our first full day at the campground, we rode the trolley into the Gatlinburg Visitor Center where we spoke to a national park ranger about the park’s activities. We were organizing our game plan. He gave us a park map, circled a few shorter hikes and sent us on our way. Later, when studying the map, I noticed the Greenbrier entrance to the park, but printed right there, on the map, was a box which said “Greenbrier Area Closed Due to Washed Out Roads.”

Bike Ride from Greenbrier Campground into the National Park (from MapMyRide app.) Notice we rode a bit past Porters Creek Trail Trailhead.

Since it was printed on the map that the entrance was closed, I didn’t bother looking further. But then, after we were there for about a week, one day I noticed a car driving into the park at that entrance. Back at the campsite, I immediately went to the national park’s website where I read the road had been opened – somewhat. Cars could drive into the park for about a half mile and park. After that, the road was open to hikers and bicyclists.


That’s us!

Once I read this, Dan and I picked a warm day to ride our ebikes in Great Smoky Mountains National Park via the Greenbrier entrance. And what’s more, we could ride to the national park straight from our campground. Now, we chose to go the back way, so we only had to cross Highway 73 and not ride on it – even for a quarter mile.

There are numerous breaks in the traffic, so crossing Highway 73 was easy. The back way was about three quarters of a mile, rather than one quarter on the busy road. The additional mileage was minimal, and we felt much more comfortable riding on the back roads with hardly any traffic in order to get to the national park. Plus it was a pretty ride.

Emerts Cove Covered Bridge
on the back road way
to Smoky Mountains National Park
The back road way
to Smoky Mountains National Park

Once at the park, we found the entire road had been opened up to all vehicles up to the size of a pickup truck. Even so, we decided to ride since there really wasn’t a lot of traffic. And, the road is wide enough to allow cars to pass a bicyclist safely.

Betty's bike next to a large boulder.
Betty's bike on the road with Dan riding off in the distance.
Wait for me, Dan!
I just have to take a quick picture!

As a side note, we found the roads in the rest of the park to be busy with traffic, and there really wasn’t any room for cars to go around bicyclists unless they went into the other lane – which was often busy with traffic. Other than when the Cades Cove loop is closed to vehicular traffic, with the exception of the Greenbrier entrance, I wouldn’t recommend riding bikes in the national park.

Betty's bike with a bridge over Piegeon Creek
Betty and Dan's bikes on the road alongside the Pigeon River.
Along the Pigeon River

To me, it was very exciting to be able to ride our ebikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The road was beautiful, much of it paralleling the scenic Pigeon River. We rode along the river, past the ranger station, past a picnic area. In fact, we rode as far as we could. At one point, the road became all large gravel or rocks, and we could no longer ride. Later, I learned we had ridden to a trail which continues on to the Grotto Falls. These were the very falls we could not hike to because there wasn’t a place to park.

Trail to Grotto Falls
If you click on “Details”, it will tell you to walk your bike.
The blue route line starts just a bit past Porters Creek Trail Trailhead – where we had stopped on our bike ride.

To get to the falls was an additional 6.8 mile hike. But you can’t ride your bike. Even Google maps tells you to “walk your bike” all the way to Grotto Falls. But just think if you could ride your bike! Seven miles on an ebike is very doable – even if you have to go slow because of curves or hills. Oh how I wish this trail was bike-able. So many more people could see Grotto Falls! This is my suggestion to Smoky Mountain National Park. Could you at least study the possibility? Please?

In any case, our ride that day was 11.37 miles of pure scenic beauty. And it was straight out of the campground! Now, later that day, I rode a second time by myself for another total of 5.77 miles. Since I was alone, I only went as far as the ranger station.

Picnic Area
Betty's bike in front of a large boulder.

While Dan enjoyed the ride, he thought it was bumpy due to the rough road. He also thought there were more cars than he would have preferred. So, that’s why he didn’t ride a second time. However, all the cars were very considerate, driving slowing and going around us, giving us a wide berth.

Betty's bike with the Pigeon River in the background.
Can you see my little green bell?
Showing the road with Dan on his bike and a car going past him.
Room on the Road

I thought the bumps were a benefit as I had put my bear bell on my bike, and each little bump rang the bell. Once you are past the ranger station, there are hardly any people, and there could be bears. If any bears were there, they heard my bell and stayed away.

I don’t know how busy the Greenbrier entrance road is normally. We were there in mid-April – a bit before the busy season. And many, like me, may have thought the road was closed. However, I would definitely try this bike ride again. Oftentimes, later in the day, the national parks aren’t quite as busy. Since one can ride to the road from the Campground’s entrance, this could be the perfect time for a ride.

We did so many wonderful activities while we were visiting Gatlinburg. But, to me, being able to ride our bikes right into the national park, was a surprise treat that was just perfect for us.

Betty and Dan wearing their bike helmets with a view of the Pigeon River behind them.


    • It was a fantastic experience! I loved it! I was glad we were able to spend two weeks there as I felt I really “got to know” the national park. Hope you have a wonderful Memorial Weekend, too!


  1. How wonderful that you researched and found the trail vs relying on the pamphlet info. Your photos are amazing, Betty. I especially love the overall theme and composition with the bikes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Terry! I appreciate your comments about the photos. I did spend a good two and a half hours on getting the photos in the blog post. I was so excited about the ride I had to be careful to not put in too many photos! Hope you have a great day!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. In all of your Smoky posts, you have given me great ideas fot places to go, things to do, and now – a place to stay, too! Thank you! I just love the bike ride, too. Isn’t it great when you find trails like this?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a nice, unexpected treat to get to ride in the park. Sorry you were not able to see Grotto Falls.

    I enjoyed all your posts from this trip and learned some things along the way. I look forward to your telling of your next trip!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Marty! Well, 6.8 miles is just the way there – and then you have to come back. And the 6.8 starts at the point where we stopped riding. Way too far! But I am glad we were able to ride in the park as much as we did. It was so beautiful! Enjoy the rest of your day!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I totally agree! There is no way I’d ride on roads with cars – especially in a busy national park. I think that’s one of the reasons this felt so special to me! Enjoy your day!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sounds like a wonderful experience! Good for you to pay attention and notice the car coming down that road and then researched it online. Excellent wrap up. Safe travels home and on to the next place.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Charla! We made it safely home and now are at the next place. 🙂 I appreciate you reading and all your comments! Safe travels to you and Kevin, too!


  5. It is so pretty and what a nice surprise to find that you could get into the park so easily and then enjoy a ride. I haven’t been to Gatlinburg in a long time – since 1968 to be exact. I know it has changed, but still pretty.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This was our first visit to the area. I am sure it has gotten way more touristy since 1968. Those would be some fun memories, I think. It is a beautiful area, and my favorite times were when we were in the park. Have a great evening!


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