In a couple of weeks, Younger Tom and I are planning to cross the ridge for 3 or 4 days and explore some new waters on the TN side of the Park. We plan to take most of a day off from fishing and bike the new and improved loop road in Cades Cove, then drive over to the NOC outpost near Cosby for an afternoon of paddling on the Pigeon. And therein is my question.

How long should we allow to drive from Cades Cove to Cosby on a Wednesday morning? Part II is which way should we go? Should we stay on the dreaded Little River Road and fight the tourists and the madness in Gatlinburg? Or should we jump out of the Park at Townsend and go around? This part of the trip is not a sight-seeing adventure - we're trying to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible. Google Maps gives three options, all of them within 6 minutes of each other. But I'd trust some local knowledge more than Google.