Cades Cove is an 11-mile loop in Great Smoky Mountain National park that can be driven or bicycled. I heartily recommend bicycling the loop for those who are able to do so. The trek is more enjoyable, and you don’t have to worry about parking should you want to stop to explore any of the historic cabins, larger homes, mills, churches or barns (and you absolutely should want to stop!). Many of the historic buildings are adjacent to the loop. A few are within a short hike from the loop; the farthest was about a half mile, and the trek was absolutely worth it to me!
After bicycling through a torrential downpour along wetlands that were more wets than lands, we arrived at Rocheport, our halfway point on our second day of riding. Although my legs were sore and tired after 45 miles, my back was done. For a much-needed rest, we stopped at a bakery and chatted with another couple about the highlights of the Pedaler’s Jamboree. We had each witnessed the same couple in matching hot pink bicycle shorts with zebra stripes, and they told us a story about an elderly couple who danced and hula hooped with a fluid grace that belied their years (and alcohol consumption).