Parson Branch Road

Area in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

This 8-mile-long road is permanently closed to motorized traffic, though it's open to mountain bikers and walkers, who can enjoy some serene forest views along its graveled length. Keep in mind, though, that the threat of falling trees is serious here. The road should definitely be avoided during high winds and after heavy rain, when loose soil can cause trunks to uproot themselves.

You'll go through rhododendron tunnels and pass over creek crossings as you wind your way between Forge Creek Rd and Hwy 129 in the south.

If you don't have a bike, you can hire one from Cades Cove Campground and make the trip down – a ride best undertaken when the Cades Cove Loop Rd is closed to cars (before 10am on Wednesday and Saturday, from May through September).