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Riding the Smoky Mountains

  1. #1
    Super Adventurer SRTie4k's Avatar
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    Riding the Smoky Mountains


    Me and a buddy are heading down tomorrow morning to ride for a week. We're trailering down and we'll be staying in a rental in Cherokee. Thus far we've planned rides for the Dragon, the Skyway, Devils Triangle, Blue Ridge, Highlands, 421 and a northern Georgia Loop through Helen.

    A lot of you have been down at some point or another, so what would you recommend for roads/stops/eats/views/etc? Anything we'd be missing out on without your input? Anything from that list we shouldn't do? Any tips?

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    Last edited by SRTie4k; 04-01-16 at 06:40 AM.
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    Lifer Imbeek's Avatar
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    Re: Riding the Smoky Mountains

    My only tip is that so many roads are awesome down there, that in the spirit of adventure, don't get hung up AT ALL on maps, directions, and itineraries. I don't think there is such a thing as a wrong turn...

    Grip it and rip it, I'm super jealous, you will have a blast.

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    Re: Riding the Smoky Mountains

    We (JerseyGirl and I) are heading down this summer in the van with 2 bikes. Let us know if you find anything "special".

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    Re: Riding the Smoky Mountains

    Blueridge and the Smokey Mountain NP (441 South of Gatlinburg) are two roads I have mixed feelings about. Both were underwhelming rides filled with traffic, cops and lots of rules. But then both are also very beautiful and worthy of "been there, done that" status.

    If riding up to 421 in TN, maybe look into getting across the border into VA and riding US 16 north of Marion. Maybe too far, maybe not. This route has been dubbed "Back of the Dragon" to try go get in on the marketing foolishness. But way less busy and a nice ride.

    28 south of Highlands NC is frickin' awesome. Really, many of the roads down there are mind blowing.

    Cherokee is a place that does not impress me much. Okay for a place to sleep at night I suppose.

    Food: Find the dingiest looking mom & pop breakfast joints. They rule. You can tell you're getting North when the breakfast gets less tasty and more costly.

    This was like $7 or something.



    I see my bacon. I see my sausage. I see my ham.

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    Re: Riding the Smoky Mountains

    Quote Originally Posted by nhbubba View Post

    Food: Find the dingiest looking mom & pop breakfast joints. They rule. You can tell you're getting North when the breakfast gets less tasty and more costly.

    This was like $7 or something.



    I see my bacon. I see my sausage. I see my ham.
    On this:

    Country ham with red eye gravy

    Pork chop biscuit

    Biscuits with sausage gravy

    Also, this is big time rib country.

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    Re: Riding the Smoky Mountains

    Blue ridge parkway in my integra GSR was beautiful, but the speed limit was 25 or 35 the whole way

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    Re: Riding the Smoky Mountains

    I love Rt.28 from Franklin to Deals Gap, but watch out for cops where it turns 4 lane between 74 and Stecoah, bikes being stuck behind cars tend to "uncork it" and Johny Law is there to give you personal performance award.

    On the West end of Cherohala there is a small place called Telico Beach Drive in, most delicious heart attack meal you can get for under $10. Can go up to Bald River Falls from there, and if you feel adventurous take the "Dirt Cherohala" back, it's not bad, packed dirt, seen many Harleys on it, on East end it starts behind a giant sign right at the entrance of Cherohala

    Wheels Through Time in Maggie valley is worth a visit, Closed Tuesdays IIRC, great collection of bikes that you never heard of. From Cherokee you can take Rt.19 to WTT
    After you leave WTT go East on 19 and take 276 all the way or pick up up 215. Sometimes I do the loop, come down from BRP on 215 then pick up 276 and take it to the other side of the Parkway, then quick blast on 64 pick up 215 again back to Parkway...

    If you don't mind walking take a road up to Clingmans Dome, nice twisty ride, starts from 441 (nort? west?) of Cherokee right on state line and goes 10(?) miles, dead end at the parking lot. It's a 1/2 mile hike from parking lot to the summit, tallest peak after Mt. Mitchell, over 6000 feet, has nice observation deck. From Clingmans Dome you can take 441 towards Gatlingburg, take a left where the park office is and it will turn in to Little River road (rt 73?) take that to Townsend, if you keep straight it will take you to Cades Cove, wild life preserve which has a dirt road that connects it with Deals Gap, for safe passage take a right (there are some gates, can't miss it) in to Townsend, stay on 321 till you see Foothils Parkway, that will take you to Deals gap. There is a spot called "Looking Rock" on foothills, short hike from there up paved road you can get on to observation tower

    Don't know the other road numbers, almost every road that crosses Blue Ridge is excellent, and this time of year much less traveled by tourists. Some of the best rides I did down there was just looking at the map and going to where the lines look squiggly.

    I have lot's of photos and video from the trips, went there 3 times just last year!

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    Re: Riding the Smoky Mountains

    Looking at those breakfast photos remind me of how nice it is to be called "darlin" and "honey" by the waitresses in the diners down there.

    Hell, this whole thread makes me wanna fire up a bike and aim south.

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    Last edited by Imbeek; 04-01-16 at 08:17 AM.

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    Re: Riding the Smoky Mountains

    We went down in early June.
    There was virtually no traffic on the Blue ridge during the week and we ran 190 miles of it at way over the limit. No problems with cars or the local law enforcement.
    The whole place is awesome including the folks.

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    Re: Riding the Smoky Mountains

    Telico Beach (BTW, have Rain gear Ready!!)



    and 5 minutes later



    and delicious meal that did not make me sick (always a worry on the road)



    Bald River falls (I think?) hiked up to the top on the slippery rocks only to find out there was a civilized approach



    some pics from Wheels Through Time

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    dirt road from Cades Cove to Deal Gap (no one told me there were 19 river crossings, this is first and smallest one!)



    Now is the best time to go, I've done all of Blue ridge (469 miles) and then some in 1 day, that was in May, but mid-summer barely made to the same destination starting in Roanoke, 180 miles closer to the Gap, because Tourists!

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    Burns retinas nhbubba's Avatar
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    Re: Riding the Smoky Mountains

    I remember this drive-in joint being pretty okay too.

    I ate a lot of chick-fil-a. Seems like a waste to some, but there are none around me.

    Dirt cherry cola was kinda cool. I did it on the V-Strom on street rubber with ease on the day of pouring rain we had the week we were there.

    My king of the hill refs are getting stale. Yoootoobe to the rescue.


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    Re: Riding the Smoky Mountains

    Almost forgot, gas station fried chicken and Cheerwine.

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    Re: Riding the Smoky Mountains

    Quote Originally Posted by nhbubba View Post
    Food: Find the dingiest looking mom & pop breakfast joints. They rule. You can tell you're getting North when the breakfast gets less tasty and more costly.
    My complaint is that they don't know how to cook breakfast potatoes, and they can keep the grits



    Wayah Road, Foothills Parkway

    stay out of Cades Cove, it may be ok this early in season, but in season, it's a clusterfuck of loaded cages creeping at 6mph starring at the deer, it would be a cool ride if you have the road to yourself

    Dual sporting has even more to offer

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    Re: Riding the Smoky Mountains

    Ugh, I used to like Cheerwine when a childhood friend would bring some back from North Carolina every year. I tried some again on our trip to NC 2 years ago and just about spit it out. It's gross now that I'm older.

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    Re: Riding the Smoky Mountains

    Can I just say I hate you all?

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    Re: Riding the Smoky Mountains

    The Snake (421) and Cherohala Skyway were the standouts when I did my FJR fly-n-buy from St Pete years ago.

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    Re: Riding the Smoky Mountains

    FYI, the Blue Ridge is closed from Mt Mitchell to mile marker 376 (just north of Asheville) for tunnel construction. And from what I've seen, the others are right -- there are no bad roads down here. 276 from the Blue Ridge north is a nice drive, NC 151 (Pisgah Hwy) starts down from the BRP with about 5 miles of TIGHT twisties. My advice, pick an area, open up google maps, and look for the roads that look like squiggles.

    Real-time Road Closures | Blue Ridge Parkway Real time road closure on the BRP

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    Burns retinas nhbubba's Avatar
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    Re: Riding the Smoky Mountains

    The catch being that some of those roads that look like squiggles are well maintained, well traveled black top. Others are less well traveled with gravel in every corner. And still others yet are dirt. Be ready for anything if venturing off the well publicized paths.

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    Re: Riding the Smoky Mountains

    Quote Originally Posted by lrrs313 View Post
    open up google maps, and look for the roads that look like squiggles.
    I am partial to paper maps and recommend the Delorme Atlas & Gazetteer


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    Re: Riding the Smoky Mountains

    Quote Originally Posted by RandyO View Post
    I am partial to paper maps and recommend the Delorme Atlas & Gazetteer

    Jimapco used to be my go to for work. Until they discontinued the New Hampshire road atlas. Haven't looked into them to see if they have a North Carolina one.

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    Re: Riding the Smoky Mountains

    lots of cool roads off the BRP. we took 151. was a little boring at the end but the first few miles were pretty awesome. i feel like we did 276 and 215 over in that area as well.
    we stayed at a house in robbinsville. guys made a beer run to tellico plains. i gave them a 30 min headstart. rolled into the gas station as they were walking out with beer. had the cherry cols to myself.
    i made a poor choice heading back though and took river rd off the cherry cola. started off ok. nice river views. a waterfall. then it turned to dirt. no big deal. i kept on going assuming that i would eventually hit pavement (possibly the cherry cola). then at some point the road ended (construction or something...road closed). i had passed several "intersections" so i opted instaed of going all the way back to tellico i would just take one of those. as i look at a map now, i assume it was the sycamore trail which turns into n. river rd before intersecting with the cherry cola. it was a little rough. and it was getting dark. and i had no service. and i didnt really know where i was. and neither did my friends (lol). i dont recommend it
    eventually i made it to the cherry cola and blasted back to the house in the dark. apparently i passed my friends who were out looking for me. it was a good time.

    we took 197 off I26 to get to the diamondback (226 & 226A..i recommend this). the middle 1/3 was dirt but the stuff on the east side was worth it.

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    Re: Riding the Smoky Mountains

    I've done the Blue Ridge Parkway 4 times now, all during the week with very little traffic (not peak season or vacation weeks though). I think I saw maybe 1 or 2 cops combined, but I think a lot of this is timing.

    Some of my favorite roads along the BRP were the random feeder roads coming in/out of the mountains. Many of them are steep, fun switchbacks with a lot of up/downs. I could ride that road over and over and over and over.......

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    Re: Riding the Smoky Mountains

    Quote Originally Posted by SVRACER01 View Post
    l
    i made a poor choice heading back though and took river rd off the cherry cola. started off ok. nice river views. a waterfall. then it turned to dirt. no big deal. i kept on going assuming that i would eventually hit pavement (possibly the cherry cola). then at some point the road ended (construction or something...road closed). i had passed several "intersections" so i opted instaed of going all the way back to tellico i would just take one of those. as i look at a map now, i assume it was the sycamore trail which turns into n. river rd before intersecting with the cherry cola. it was a little rough. and it was getting dark. and i had no service. and i didnt really know where i was. and neither did my friends (lol). i dont recommend it
    eventually i made it to the cherry cola and blasted back to the house in the dark. apparently i passed my friends who were out looking for me. it was a good time.
    You had good time but not recommend it?

    There is a dirt road that comes off N. River Road right near NC state line (assume Sycamore trail) which ends where the rock slide closed it off something like 20 years ago, and from there it's a sharp left hairpin (assume Benton MacKaye Trail?) I rode that to the top of some hill and then went around the gate, amazing views from the summit, thought I was hot shit getting up that rocky road but on the way down passed 3 Sportsters...


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    Re: Riding the Smoky Mountains

    Quote Originally Posted by SVRACER01 View Post
    made a poor choice heading back though and took river rd off the cherry cola. started off ok. nice river views. a waterfall. then it turned to dirt. no big deal. i kept on going assuming that i would eventually hit pavement (possibly the cherry cola). then at some point the road ended (construction or something...road closed). i had passed several "intersections" so i opted instaed of going all the way back to tellico .
    National Geographic "Trails Illustrated" maps of the National Forests help a lot with the forest road network

    Some of the turns are tricky, looks like the main road goes straight, but it doesn't, it turns onto something you would least expect

    from Telleco, heading on River Road, you want to turn on to North river Road. it will cross into North Carolina as it passes under the Cherohala, there is and access road between the gravel road and the Cherohala, on the North Carolina side it's National Forest Road # 80 and then to Ols Santeetlah Road for a short distance to Santeetlah Road right where it comes out at the scenic vista on the Cherohala

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    Re: Riding the Smoky Mountains

    Quote Originally Posted by RandyO View Post
    from Telleco, heading on River Road, you want to turn on to North river Road. it will cross into North Carolina as it passes under the Cherohala, there is and access road between the gravel road and the Cherohala, on the North Carolina side it's National Forest Road # 80 and then to Ols Santeetlah Road for a short distance to Santeetlah Road right where it comes out at the scenic vista on the Cherohala
    I did this in reverse on the V-Strom on street tires in the rain. Had no problem with it and found it a good time.
    I did not do that Sycamore thing. That looks like fun!

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