Yesterday, my friend and I biked Cades Cove loop to the Gregory Bald trailhead, hiked to Gregory Bald to see the flame azaleas, then finished biking the loop. It was 25 miles total with 4452 feet of climbing (14.5 miles and 1500 feet of climbing on the bike and 11.3 miles and 3482 feet of climbing during the hike).
We had great weather. Biking the loop is the way to go. Before 10am on Saturday, the loop is closed to cars. The wild life seemed more relaxed in the morning too. We saw horses close to the road, biked right past a dear standing on the side of the road, and watched a black bear eating termites from an old log just off the road.
Gregory Bald was beautiful. Warm sun, airish breeze. The flame azaleas were very pretty. There were colors ranging from white to yellow, orange, and red. We had lunch and took a nap. A couple had ridden horses to the peak. The humidity was low so the views were great. I walked around taking photos of Cades Cove and other peaks with the azaleas in the foreground. Though it wasn’t picked up in my pictures, I could see a distant ridge on the horizon (possibly Stout Knob, 66 miles away).
Riding a mountain bike was much more fun than my road bike. My road bike is stiff and twitchy, but the mountain bike was smooth and stable. On the bike back we saw more deer and bears. We rode on the shoulder and passed all the cars stuck in traffic. I only took photos on film, though I brought both cameras.