Gaitlinburg is the northern gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Due to steep terrain, narrow road surfaces, and heavy automobile traffic, many park roads are not well suited for pedestrians. And the hiking trails make for generally moderate to challenging trail running. There are a few decent running options in the Park that aren’t too far from the Park entrance.
Greenbrier Cove. Located only 15 minutes from Gaitlinburg, Greenbrier Cove is a quieter area. Greenbrier Rd. follows the Little Pigeon River for up to 8 miles. There are cars — and no shoulder — but it’s generally runnable, especially off-season. LINK
Cades Cove Loop Road. A worth-it destination run on Wednesdays, in season! This popular 11-mile picturesque driving route features views of the mountain peaks, wildlife viewing opportunities, and several 19th century homesteads. It’s narrow and no shoulder, so not generally safe for running. However, it’s closed to cars on Wednesdays May 4 to September 28…and is a paradise for running! It’s a ~1 hour drive southwest of Gaitlinburg to the entrance, where there’s a Visitor Center and parking. LINK
- 3.1 miles (5 km) out and back; Downtown access can add ~1.5 miles each way
- Greenway is flat
- Off Rivertrail Ln. or W Main St. Can also access from downtown
- Access off Rivertrail Ln. near downtown, or at northern end trailhead off W Main St.
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