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Best Motorcycle Routes to Explore in the Smokies

motorcyling in the nc smoky mountains

The stunning mountain views and twisting scenic byways of the North Carolina Smoky Mountains and surrounding area offer one of the best places in the world for a motorcycle adventure.

Whether you prefer to travel with your own bike or rent one when you arrive, local shops, dealerships and guides are ready to help make your motorcycling vacation a memorable one.

motorcyling in the nc smoky mountains11 Top Motorcycle Routes in the Smoky Mountains

The mountains of Western North Carolina are home to several routes popular among motorcycle enthusiasts. Check out a few of our favorites:

  • Tail of the Dragon: One of the best-known motorcycle routes, “the Dragon” is located in Deals Gap and boasts 318 continuous curves packed into 11 miles with no intersecting roads or driveways,
  • Six Gap: Located just across the Georgia border, this figure-8 loop stretches for 77 miles, passing through six mountain gaps and intersecting the Appalachian Trail at four points along the way.
  • The Snake US421: This 37-mile route offers 489 curves across three mountains and one stunning valley in Johnson County, Tenn. and Washington County, Va.
  • Moonshiner 28: Named for the moonshine runners who once frequented the road, this route winds 103 miles south from Franklin and Highlands to end in Walhalla, S.C. Look for breathtaking vistas, waterfalls and remote mountain lakes.
  • Foothills Parkway: Trace the ridgeline of the Smoky Mountains for 33 miles from Chilhowee to Wears Valley, Tenn., and enjoy the spectacular view from several pull-off overlooks along the way.
  • Smoky Mountain Loop: This 143-mile loop connects the Foothills Parkway with US 441 through Great Smoky Mountains National park before passing through Cherokee and Bryson City and past Fontana Dam.
  • Devils Triangle: Located just north of Oak Ridge, Tenn., this 44-mile route is recommended for experienced riders, thanks to its deep gullies, steep drop-offs and tight switchbacks.
  • The Gambler: Also known as “the Rattler,” this 25-mile route follows NC 209 from Ferguson’s Market north of Waynesville over to picturesque Hot Springs, N.C.
  • The Diamondback: Tracing a 38-mile diamond-shaped loop, this route is located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway between Asheville and Boone.
  • Cherohola Skyway: Designated as a National Scenic Byway, this 43-mile road connects Tellico Plains, Tenn. to Robbinsville, N.C. as it winds through uninterrupted forests and wraps around mountainsides. You don’t want to miss the views on this one.
  • Blue Ridge Parkway: “America’s Favorite Drive” is great for two wheels or four. Explore this 469-mile byway from its southern end in Cherokee, and enjoy stunning views of the Smokies and Blue Ridge Mountains from scenic overlooks.

Accommodations for Your Motorcycling Vacation

The N.C. Smokies are the perfect home base for your two-wheel explorations.

The Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort on the N.C./Tenn. border caters to “Dragon” riders with a motel and campground, plus a pub and grill, store and calendar of exciting events throughout the year.

Several local campgrounds welcome motorcycle travelers and groups including Moonshine Creek Campground near Sylva and The Great Outdoors RV Resort in Franklin.

Or choose from several lodging options from favorite national brand hotels to historic inns and luxury vacation rentals.