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.
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.
Points of Interest
Tail of the Dragon
US 129 Also known as Deals Gap, US 129 should be on any motorcyclist’s must-ride list. Its 318 curves in 11 miles offer a roller-coaster ride with scenic views. In the summer months and on weekends the road can be very busy, so consider riding in off-season or during the week.
Wayah Road and Wayah BaldWayah Road
A small section of paved twisties that stretch from Franklin, NC, back to Hwy 74—is a joy to ride. Wayah Bald sits at the end of National Forest Rd, and if you are up for a few miles of gravel, you will be rewarded with a spectacular view.
Scenic Overlooks, Cherohala Skyway
The Cherohala Skyway runs for 52 miles through the Cherokee National Forest and offers some of the most picturesque views of the entire ride. There are several overlooks along this road for admiring the landscape, so bring your camera! Gas stations are few and far between, so fuel up before the ride.