City Escapes:  Maryville, Tennessee

Text: Marisa McInturff • Photography: Marisa McInturff

This trip is for those who like long riding days. Start early to complete the entire loop before dark and ride during summer to get the most sunlight. This is a three-season route, as higher elevations tend to get snowed up in the winter. The mountains are stunning in this area, with vibrant valleys, mountain passes, and flowing streams. You’ll also go through some of the tightest and twistiest roads in Tennessee and North Carolina, perfect for sport or sport touring riders. With many famous roads like Deals Gap and Cherohala Skyway, the Smoky Mountains are a riding gold mine.

The roads are in generally good repair, but watch out for gravel washes in corners, especially after a hard rain. There can also be dips in the road through the moun-tain passes. This 300-mile route has far more curves than miles. Some sections include switchbacks and blind corners on narrow roads, and in the mountains there is considerable elevation change (5,390 feet) and abundant wildlife. The optional Wayah Bald section is groomed gravel that’s traversable on any bike at a proper speed.

Lunch Stop

Tellico Grains Bakery serves a variety of fresh baked pizzas and hot sandwiches. If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll love the cookies, pastries, cakes, and scones. Be sure to arrive before they close at 4 p.m. Find it at 105 Depot St, Tellico Plains, TN, www.tellico-grains-bakery.com.