Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rides
A thorough list of the best routes to ride in the Tennessee Smokies
The changing of the seasons provides another wonderful opportunity for riding your motorcycle through the hills and forests of East Tennessee. The Great Smoky Mountains area has become a mecca for people wanting to see the glorious colors of the changing leaves from the mountains and valleys of this area. Glorious golds, rich reds, majestic purples and bright yellows paint the Smoky Mountains with an ever-changing palette of color, one that has to be seen to be believed. And what better way to see the colors and to actually feel the changing season, than on the back of a bike in East Tennessee. And in addition to being Mother Nature’s paint box the area offers curvy, tree-lined roads and the fall smells of the great outdoors to enjoy as you drive through the area. Here are some trip and road suggestions to ensure a fun and beautiful ride.
Rides in the National Park
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers fabulous opportunities for cruising and seeing the beauty of Mother Nature. Drive up Highway 441 out of Gatlinburg and you can meander through the Park and drive to the top of the Smoky Mountains and stop at Newfound Gap. There you can look over Tennessee one way and North Carolina the other way. You can also stand on the platform where President Franklin Roosevelt dedicated the National Park in 1941. Drive up a little farther to the highest point in Tennessee – Clingman’s Dome – and then walk up the Observation Tower for an unforgettable view.
Cades Cove Rides
Another wonderful drive in the National Park is Cades Cove. This is an 11-mile, one-way ride through one of the prettiest and most historical valleys in the United States. There are plenty of opportunities to get off the bike and explore historical building from the early pioneer days before the establishment of the Park.
When you drive out of Cades Cove, go left to Townsend and continue west to the Foothills Parkway. Go south to Highway 129 the east to the Tale of the Dragon. This well-known stretch of highways is 318 curves in 11 miles on Highway 129 and 28. The drive also offers many rest stops, restaurants, shops and hotels where you can stop, shop, eat, drink, relax or overnight.
For those wishing to make a “round trip”, you can take Highway 129 to Highway 143 west – the Cherohala Skyway – then hit Highway 360 at Tellico Plains, to take you back to Highway 411 at Vonore. From there is a short jaunt west on Highway 72 to get back to the beginning of Highway 129.
These are the best-known rides and you could spend days in the National Park or on The Dragon. There are many roads in East Tennessee area that are fun and interesting to ride, but there are two lesser known roads that are close to Sevierville and Gatlinburg that are worth exploring.
Smoky Mountain Highways & Twisties
Highway 416 is accessible from Pittman Center Road – Highway 416 – catty-corner from the end of Dollywood Lane at Dunn’s Market. This road follows the Little Pigeon River under a canopy of trees and close forest-growth or hillsides on one side, and drop-offs to the river on the other. There are plenty of curves and several hairpin turns and the sights, sounds and fresh smell of the river make it a very enjoyable ride. If you start from the Sevierville-Pigeon Forge area you will dead-end at Highway 321. From there you can take a right and go to the Arts & Crafts Community and then into Gatlinburg. There are many shops, pubs and restaurants in both places.
The undiscovered jewel of bike rides is Highway 32 out of Gatlinburg. Your other option when you dead-end from 416 is to go left on 321. After a few pleasant miles on the two-lane you will dead-end into Highway 32. Go right and in a mile-and-a-half you will be on a curvy, switch-back, elevating, and exciting bike adventure filled with blind turns, hairpins and a relentless number of S curves.
Highway 32 is a paved road for 11 miles and you end up at the North Carolina border near Hartford, TN. The road is gravel at the end but you can get to I-40 unless you want to turn around and do the road again. There is very little traffic on this road and there are very few guard rails to protect you from the extreme drops off the non-mountain side of the road. You will probably not get out of second gear much and by the end you will know that you have had a work-out.
East Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains are very bike-friendly and we offer a wide-range of accommodations to rest-up at the end of the day. There are also many other attractions and outdoor activities to do in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Sevierville, and plenty of good food in the chain and locally-owned restaurants. Don’t forget some Smoky Mountain souvenirs from the hundreds of shops and take plenty of pictures.