Spring and Summer is for bikers, and that means it’s time to get that ride out of the garage and on the road.
Across Tennessee and North Carolina in the Smokies are rides including Tail of the Dragon, Blue Ridge Parkway and Cherohala Skyway. Your can stay in a cabin with My Bearfoot Cabins in Tennessee and take these day-trip adventures.
The Tail of the Dragon
Tail of the Dragon – with 318 curves in 11 miles. This world-famous ride has tight turns as you travel on U.S. 129 bordered by the Great Smoky Mountains and the Cherokee National Forest. There are no intersecting roads or driveways to hamper travel.
The Dragon starts at the Tennessee/North Carolina boarder in Deals Gap. It is a desolate road and the road is the attraction – this isn’t for sight seers. One needs to pay attention to the curves. 18-wheelers are banned on the road – but that doesn’t mean one won’t sneak through.
“Our favorite sections are the Hump, the Esses just before Cattail Straight and the Dips. Be ready to scrape your footpegs in some of these wild curves,” writes the writers of the Tail of Dragon Web site and owners of the Tail of the Dragon store.
On the North Carolina side at Fugitive Bridge, there’s a view of the Cheoah Dam where Harrison Ford jumped from in the movie The Fugitive. The dam and old single lane bridge were also in the 1971 movie Two Lane Blacktop.
Take a break at the big metal dragon at Tail of the Dragon store at the intersection of US 129 and NC 28.
“This is a very special and unique highway. There are no intersecting roads, no houses with driveways and no businesses. Each and every curve is different. There is very little elevation change. And many of the curves are banked like a racetrack. Watch out for a few twists that are off-camber and several that are decreasing radius curves.”
Cherohala Skyway is a 43-mile National Scenic Byway from Tellico Plains, Tennessee, to Robbinsville, North Carolina. “Ridge after ridge of forested mountainside with sweeping mountain views as far as the eyes can see; abundant and unobstructed scenic overlooks around every corner; world class hiking trails, refreshing waterfalls and scenic overlooks; a road featured as one of Discovery Channel’s Top 10 Motorcycle Rides in North America
The Skyway winds up and over 5,400 foot mountains for 18 miles in North Carolina and descends another 23 miles into the deeply forested back country of Tennessee.
Newfound Gap Road, US-441
Newfound Gap US 441 has an elevation of 5,046 feet, Newfound Gap is the lowest drivable pass through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
A trip over the Newfound Gap Road has often been compared to a drive from Georgia to Maine in terms of the variety of forest ecosystems one experiences. Starting from either Cherokee, North Carolina or Gatlinburg, Tennessee, travelers climb approximately 3,000 feet, ascending through cove hardwood, pine-oak, and northern hardwood forest to attain the evergreen spruce-fir forest at Newfound Gap (5,046′). This fragrant evergreen woodland is similar to the boreal forests of New England and eastern Canada.
The Blue Ridge Parkway
It is hard to beat the incredible view of the Smoky Mountains that can be seen from the Foothills Parkway. The western portion of the parkway has been a long-time favorite Smoky Mountain fall drive near Wears Valley for both motorists and motorcycle riders. During the drive, visitors will come across several pull-offs, including a short half-mile paved hiking trail that leads to Look Rock Tower. There is also a picnic area and campground found along the parkway.
To find the Foothills Parkway, turn onto Route 321 at Light 3 on the Pigeon Forge Parkway, heading towards Townsend. After a few miles, you will see the entrance to the Foothills Parkway clearly marked on your right.
Where to stay!
Before and after your ride, stay in a cozy cabin that has plenty of parking for several vehicles. Escape to Times Past with My Bearfoot Cabins.
Pat and Don Kirchhoefer, owner