Wednesday, July 8, 2020
What a day!! We biked 12.5 miles, saw 6 bears and spent the evening relaxing. Today we traveled to Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Cades Cove has a scenic loop that the park closes down to vehicles all day on Wednesdays. They only allow bikers and hikers for the entire day. We have stayed in this area an extra day just so that we could experience this.
We left out early for the one-hour drive from our RV park to Cades Cove. Our goal was to beat the biggest part of the crowd so that we could get a parking spot. Oh my, did we underestimate that! We arrived around 8:30 and the place was packed. We struggled to find a place to park. Once we finally found a cranny to park Bullwinkle (our truck) we unloaded the bikes and started the loop. We had not even made it a half mile when we spotted our first black bear. The bear was leisurely enjoying his breakfast right at the treeline. It was a fantastic way to start our day.
We continued on our way after seeing our first bear. As you go through the loop there are multiple cabins, churches and cemeteries to walk through. We didn’t stop at all of them but we enjoyed walking through a few, including John Oliver’s cabin, the first settler in the area.
We biked about 6 miles then found us a nice place on the side of the road to have our lunch. If you do this loop by bike, I definitely suggest packing a lunch. You can spend several hours biking, checking out the views and touring the cabins.
The highlight of our ride came towards the end when we saw a bear and her three cubs crossing the road. It was so exciting! Johnny, Logan and Macy were ahead of Noah and I (we were lagging behind as usual) and they spotted the mama bear on the side of the road hanging out under a fallen tree. When Noah and I got to them (along with a lot of other bikers) the mama was ready to cross the road. She went first, then one by one her cubs came behind her. The cubs were so adorable. We of course kept a safe distance so that we did not disturb the mama. Once they had all crossed she led them off into the woods. We can now say that we saw more bears here in GSMNP than we did 2 years ago in Yellowstone.
We finished our ride a little after noon today for a total of 12.5 miles. Overall, it was amazing. I’m so glad we chose to stay in the area an extra day so that we could experience Cades Cove on the bikes. We are not “avid bikers” and it was an easy enough loop for all of us. There are some steep sections that we had to push our bikes up but those normally rewarded us with long, curvy, fun down-hill sections. Our legs felt like jelly by the time we finished but it was well worth it.
We have spent the rest of the afternoon chilling out at the campsite. I needed to get some more laundry done, we needed to clean up the camper and tomorrow is a travel day so Johnny needed to rest up for the drive. Tomorrow we leave out for the final leg of our trip, Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky.