City Escape: Asheville, North Carolina

Text: Heather Oliver • Photography: Chris Myers

A curve lover’s paradise, this loop takes you on a thrilling ride through the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. You’ll experience a breathtaking sampling of roads, from the famous Blue Ridge Parkway and the Foothills Parkway to the adrenaline-pumping road, The Dragon. Not to be outdone by the asphalt, the scenery kicks your senses into overdrive with sprawling emerald mountain vistas around nearly every corner during spring and summer, and explosions of color in the fall.

Length

Approximately 220 Miles

Meet-up Spot

Coffee Cup Cafe, 48 Haywood Park Dr, Clyde, NC

Lunch Stop

Dragon Pitt Inn & BBQ is nine miles off The Dragon and is the perfect place to satisfy your hunger for food before satisfying your appetite for curves. All their pork is smoked on site and they make their own savory BBQ sauce. Find it at 44047 Calderwood Hwy, Maryville, TN. 

Scenery (4 out of 5) 

From tight, tree-lined roadways to mountain panoramas, this city escape boasts some of the most beautiful scenery in the Southeast.

Traffic (3 out of 5)

Traffic is generally light to medium; a steady stream of motorcyclists can be expected. Higher volumes of traffic may occur on weekends or during the fall—but not enough to spoil the ride! 

Difficulty (4 out of 5) 

You can expect many tight, highly technical sections on this loop.

Road Conditions (3 out of 5)

Overall, roads on this route are well maintained and in good condition. Rain can cause mudslides, runoffs of loose gravel in sections, and it’s not uncommon for wildlife to brave road crossings.

Points of Interest

  1. Waterfalls

    There are several waterfalls waiting to be discovered and photographed along this route, several of which are located right off US 321 on Little River Gorge Road near Townsend, TN: White Oak Flats, Meigs Falls, The Sinks. 

  2. The Dragon 

    One of the top bucket-list roads in America, US 129 is a series of 318 mind-blowing curves spanning an 11-mile section. 

  3. Deal’s Gap

    A renowned stop for motorcyclists, Deal’s Gap is open early March through mid-November, and offers riders a chance to meet other motorcyclists, fill up their tanks, purchase keepsake Dragon memorabilia, or even stay for a night along The Dragon. www.dealsgap.com

  4. Fontana Dam & Visitors Center

    Located on the Tennessee River, this 480-foot dam is the tallest east of the Rockies. Those who climb the stairs to the top are rewarded with striking views of the Great Smoky Mountains. www. tinyurl.com/fontanadam

  5. Wheels through Time Museum

    This one-of-a-kind museum in Maggie Valley, NC, houses an impressive collection of more than 350 rare machines and motorcycle memorabilia. www.wheelsthroughtime.com