Cycling in Townsend

Anna and her sons write about their cycling experience in Townsend, Tennessee.

Cycling in Townsend
The cycling, jogging, and walking trail in Townsend

Townsend, also known as the “peaceful side of the Smokies” is a city in Blount county, Tennessee, located at the entrance to the Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited national park in The United States of America.

At the end of Townsend, just at the entrance to Smoky Mountains

We like riding our bikes there, as it is not far from home. The trail we use is a loop path around the city, and it is not only for bicyclists. People also jog and walk on it. On one side it is very flat and easy, on the other side, where you can get accessing the underground tunnels under the street, it is more challenging and fun as the trail goes up and down.

The foliage on the mountain in the golden light of the afternoon

We usually get to go there in the evening during the week when we are done with work and school. In the evenings, during the week, in the spring and fall, the air is cool and there aren't so many people using the trail. Weekends are crowded, especially in this time of the year, when people all over the States come to see the foliage, but not so during the week.

The river is quite peaceful in the fall, almost still. 

Just before the setting of the sun, the golden light falls on the surrounding hills of Townsend, firing up the colors of the autumn. The mountain city with its cabins and fun coffee and souvenir shops looks like so many paintings displayed on the side of the road. I am riding through a massive gallery, blending in the scenes of pumpkin and foliage oranges and yellows and greens. The pictures come alive and then fall back into a still posture as I ride through them. I am cycling through dances of leaves spurred by a playful wind, tousling my hair and inviting me to join in the fun. My legs pump the pedals up a little rise in the trail, hurting but not giving in to the effort. They are soon rewarded with rest on the other side of the rise. The exhilaration of the ride down the slope into the scenery with evening clouds broken by a mild sun in the back is intoxicating for a few moments. I give in to joy, I surrender to peace and beauty.

Colors of the fall. 

Mihai, 15

The cold air beats at my face as I careen down a steep slope, gripping the smooth plastic bike handles tightly. The cold, damp air permeates my thick clothing as I ride down a dank, dark passageway. I am forced to stop in an overgrown field to drink some foul, lukewarm water. A grasshopper sits on top of some grass, chirping nonchalantly. The scent of mown grass constantly floats in the air.

The cycling trail. 

This is how it felt like biking at Townsend, a small city in East Tennessee, near the Great Smoky Mountains. Along the way, we saw many wondrous things, as we got exhausted from pedaling.

A parking lot along the side of the road is our usual starting area. After some biking, we had to use a tunnel to get to the other side of the road. It looked as if it had seen at least one murder, it was dark and smelled putrid, with mold along the walls. You could just imagine someone with a hood on jumping at you with a knife as you passed through.

However, the other side was much less sinister in appearance. A concrete path runs parallel to the main road leading through Townsend. This part of the ride is hilly, and we had to watch out for intersections with the main road.

Stopping for a rest.

But, as everyone knows, with steep hills come exhilarating steep descents, and that was true for this trail. We rode over grass-covered hills and sped down the steep descents. I could see two motels along the way, on top of these hills.

Soon, we came to Townsend Visitor center, which has a large field next to it. Here we stopped to drink water. During the ride, it got warm, but it was much better than nothing. Be sure to pack some water if you decide to come on this trail.

Next came the steepest descent of them all. I'm pretty confident that we went over the 45 mile per hour speed limit imposed on the cars driving through Townsend, but there weren't any speed gun wielding police officers to tell us this, so we will never know...

Our bike path (approximate)

Biking at Townsend was:

The seemingly neverending concrete bike path;
The grasshoppers chirping in the tall grass;
The scent of freshly-mown grass;
The smooth plastic bike handle;
The lukewarm water I drank in desperation.

I liked riding down the steep hills on the bike path.

A quote written on the wall of a coffee shop in Townsend.

Paul, 11

We recently went biking in Townsend, with our cousins.

My favorite part of this biking trip was riding back to the car from the part of Townsend nearest to the Smoky Mountains. On the trail, we encountered many hills and short rises, but when we came back on the trail we were almost always going down because we were travelling back down the hills we had come up on. I liked this part of the trail because we were constantly blasted by cold air. On the way back, gliding down the hills was very satisfying because my legs were almost numb with pain from constant pedaling.

Ready to go.

Another of my favorite things to do on this bike trail was to do some stunts. One of the dangerous stunts was to take my sweaty hands off the rubber of the handle bars, and to ride without holding them. Another stunt was to use my weight to pull the front of my bike upwards and then let it drop with a whack.

I also liked talking to one of my cousins about a game that I was trying to create. We elaborated on this subject, and because we were not looking at the road, we almost crashed into each other. I stopped us from hitting each other by screeching my bike to a stop. I liked going through some dark, damp tunnels that led under the road to the other side of the street.

I would go again to ride all the way to the Smoky Mountains.

Biking in Townsend was for me:

Painfully biking up a hill with no momentum;
A car revving on the nearby road;
The sun setting as we arrive at the cars;
The echoing sound of talking as we ride through the tunnels;
The screech of bike tires as we park.