Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited park in the USA and it’s no wonder as the views and vistas here are simply stunning. We start the week from Tellico Plains, Tennessee to travel along the Cherohala Skyway riding “on top of the world” to Tapoco, North Carolina. From here we take on “The Dragon” (aka: Deal’s Gap) with it’s 318 curves in 11 miles. Then it’s onto a portion of the beautiful, but little known and lightly traveled, Foothills Parkway. We also visit the remote Cades Cove for a car-free early morning riding experience through history and then in the afternoon to the top of Clingmans Dome to marvel in the 100+ mile views of purple mountains majesty.
On the second half of our tour we ride along a portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway visiting it’s highest point at 6,053 feet and then end in Asheville, North Carolina. We will have a layover day in Asheville which will be a great opportunity to explore this charming town, enjoy one of it’s many breweries, visit the Biltmore Estate, or if you want to ride, take on a challenging climb to the top of Mount Mitchell. Our final day includes a climb over Doggetts Gap and then ends in the remote town of Hot Springs, North Carolina.
402 km / 250 mi
6-days of guide service,
5-nights of lodging,
Night before and after the tour not included.
All meals, energy food, liquid refreshments,
Forest service fees,
Shuttles and mechanical support.
Deposit for this tour is $950.-pp.
NOTE: The Great Smoky Mountains region offers some serious and challenging climbing, so this tour is recommended for strong advanced to expert level riders.
Easy = untrained, normal physical condition Moderate = regular cyclist, good condition Challenging = experienced, well trained
Guided = with cycling guide(s) - support van Self Guided = individual - directions+maps
0-20 km / 0-12 mi
402 km / 250 mi
Deluxe = 4-5 star hotel or excellent B&B Basic = 1-2 star hotel/motel or B&B Camping = tent, sports hall or campus
Deluxe, full board
Daily luggage transfers
06 Oct 2019 - 11 Oct 2019 04 May 2020 - 09 May 2020 11 May 2020 - 16 May 2020
Scott CR-1 Pro and Scott Solace carbon road bikes with full Shimano Ultegra components for only $250/week
Limited selection of SCOTT electric bikes that can be reserved for our tours. These are road bikes with straight bars.
If you travel alone a single supplement is charged. With some group tours you can avoid a single supplement by sharing a room with another rider.
DAY 0: Arrival in Knoxville
Guests either fly into McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS), located just south of Knoxville, Tennessee, or drive to the meeting hotel near the airport. The meeting hotel will be the Hampton Inn Knoxville-Airport where there will be a late afternoon “Meet & Greet” session to meet your fellow riders for the week, get your rental bikes fitted and where guides will discuss the highlights of the week ahead.
NOTE: Guests are on-their-own for accommodations this evening either at the Hampton Inn, or at other nearby hotels. The Hampton Inn offers an airport shuttle from McGhee Tyson Airport. Guests are also on-their-own for dinner this evening.
DAY 1: Cherohala Skyway
Standard: 57 miles with up to 6,625 feet of climbing
Lower Mileage: 39 miles with up to 3,365 feet of climbing
After breakfast in Knoxville, we will meet early in the hotel parking lot to load bikes and gear into the support van and then shuttle about an hour south to begin our journey from the small town of Tellico Plains, Tennessee. Those riders looking for less mileage and climbing can opt to bump up to a starting point further along in the route.
We start the week with a fantastic ride along the Cherohala Skyway which winds up and over 5,400 foot mountains from Tennessee and into North Carolina through deeply forested back country with stunning vistas all along the way. This will be a ride to remember! After departing from the skyway, we navigate around Santeetlah Lake to end the day at the Historic Tapoco Lodge to enjoy outstanding accommodations and dining for the evening.
DAY 2: Tail of the Dragon & Foothills Parkway
45 miles with up to 4,220 feet of climbing
Today is going to be fun and challenging! Riding from the Tapoco Lodge, we will ride past the Cheoah Dam, a filming location for the 1993 movie The Fugitive with Harrison Ford, and soon take on an iconic beast of a road called “The Dragon” (aka: Deals Gap) so named since it’s 318 curves in 11 miles looks like a dragon’s tail.
After slaying The Dragon, we join up with the Foothills Parkway to ride 17 miles above the treetops and foothills offering incredible mountain vistas across the entire face of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We then enter the small town of Townsend, Tennessee and check into our accommodations.
DAY 3: Cades Cove to Clingmans Dome
Standard: 67 miles with up to 8,580 feet of climbing
Extra: 91 miles with up to 9,050 feet of climbing
Today we need to fuel up the body and depart early as we have a special treat! Riding from Townsend, we make our way into Cades Cove, an isolated and secluded valley located in the Tennessee section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park which was home to numerous settlers way before the formation of the national park. What’s special about today is that in the morning on Wednesdays the 11 mile loop road is open only to foot traffic and cyclists making for an enjoyable car-free experience along this historic route.
After Cades Cove, we pedal into the scenic Little River Gorge through dense forests with amazing river views. After passing over Fighting Creek Gap, lunch will be held at the Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, Tennessee. From here the riding gets extremely challenging as we ride to the summit of Clingmans Dome – this is a 20 mile beyond category (HC) climb with nearly a full MILE of elevation gain! Of course riders can opt to bump some or all of the climb and E.F.I. riders can opt to add to today’s ride by riding down the other side of the climb to Cherokee, North Carolina to tonight’s lodging.
However much you intend to ride today, this will be an epic day in the saddle!
DAY 4: Blue Ridge Parkway to Asheville, North Carolina
63 miles with up to 6,110 feet of climbing
After a short morning shuttle from Cherokee, North Carolina, we start from Balsam Gap along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Climbing is again on tap for today’s ride as we start from around 3,400 feet in elevation and then at 12 miles into the ride we reach the Richland Balsam Overlook, the highest point on the Blue Ridge parkway at an altitude of 6,047 feet. From here the Parkway undulates along the ridge line offering breath taking views in all directions.
Following lunch near Mount Pisgah, the riding is mostly downhill for the next 15 miles as we lose 3,300 feet and only gain 350 feet – make sure to stop every now and then to take in the sights! Exiting the Blue Ridge Parkway we will meander through Biltmore Forest and then end at our lodging in downtown Asheville, North Carolina. With a dozen or more breweries within walking distance, it will be a tough choice as to where to enjoy the post ride libations!
DAY 5: Layover in Asheville, North Carolina
Optional Ride: 47 miles with up to 3,770 feet of climbing
With a layover day in Asheville, guests are on-their-own for all activities today (including meals) and they may opt for a day off the bike to explore this curious mountain town by strolling through the many stores, going on a brewery crawl, taking a guided tour of the Biltmore Estate, or for those that want to keep pedaling, take an assault on Mount Mitchell, the highest point east of the Mississippi at 6,684 feet.
While today’s ride is also on-your-own, we will offer an early morning shuttle to a starting point along the Blue Ridge Parkway which will cut out nearly 4,000 feet of climbing. After this drop-off, riders cycle to the top of Mount Mitchell and then back to Asheville. While the elevation gain is nearly 3,770 feet, the ride back from Mount Mitchell loses over 6,000 feet – it will be a blast of a ride!
DAY 6: Doggett Gap to Hot Springs, North Carolina
32 miles with up to 2,575 feet of climbing
Following a short shuttle from Asheville, the final day of our tour offers up the shortest distance of the week at 32 miles, but it dishes out one final 3 mile climb up the eastern slope of Doggett Knob to Doggett Gap. However, the remaining miles after Doggett Gap descend through the lush farmland and valleys of Pisgah National Forest to Hot Springs, North Carolina where the riding ends and where we will have lunch. After lunch we shuttle back to Knoxville, Tennessee to end our tour. What a great week!
Map & Routes
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