Kingsport, Tennessee Shamrock Tour®: Riding the Mountain Empire

Text: Florian Neuhauser • Photography: Florian Neuhauser

Spanning from northeastern Tennessee to southwestern Virginia, there’s great touring country known as the Mountain Empire. And hidden within this region is the gem known as Kingsport, TN. This town serves as the starting point of what is now known as the Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail.

In March of 1775, just days before Patrick Henry gave his rallying “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech at St. John’s Church in Richmond, VA, another chapter in the fight for independence was unfolding in Tennessee. The Cherokee Indians and Transylvania Land Company were negotiating the details of the purchase of land now known as Kentucky, and the famous frontiersman Daniel Boone was waiting in Kingsport for word that the purchase had been secured. He wanted to mark a trail for others to follow on the newly purchased land. The path he forged, now known as the Wilderness Trail, became the route for hundreds of thousands of settlers of the western frontier. And it all started here.

“Give me sunshine, serve me curves …” is my rallying cry when exploring a new area. While I live only three hours east of Kingsport, more than half of the roads on this Shamrock Tour® are new to me. I’m riding my KTM 1190 Adventure. Christa, my mom, is astride her Ducati Scrambler. Our friend Zane pilots his brand spanking new Yamaha FJR1300. And fellow editor James T. Parks rides his pristine Honda CB1100. It’s early May and the world is awash with the color of all things blooming. Mornings are still a bit chilly providing that extra tingle the first hour or so.

The Snake

The MeadowView Resort is home for the next few days, and we take advantage of their scrumptious breakfast before heading east on Highway 11W. This divided highway is scattered with chain restaurants, hotels, and various businesses that eventually give way to rolling farmland. We pick up SR 394, a connector passing through Blountville to south of Bristol, and avoid the major traffic and the monotony of the divided highway. Inching closer to Bristol, we pass by the famous Bristol Motor Speedway, home of the fastest half mile. Currently, though, with no races on the docket, the area is rather deserted. Highway 421 appears soon after, and we hang a right. My favorite traffic signs start to appear—the ones that warn truckers of curves and switchbacks ahead and recommend an alternative route. 

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the November/December 2017 back issue.