What can you say about a state that boasts one of the most well-known motorcycle roads in the nation? Well, actually a lot. As it turns out, Tennessee’s Tail of the Dragon isn’t this state’s only fantastic motorcycle route. The Volunteer State is crisscrossed with lots of great rides and fun cities to visit, including Memphis and Nashville.
Over and over again, you will hear riders in other states compare their roads to The Tail of the Dragon or The Dragon. This route, which crosses Deals Gap into North Carolina, has become the standard to which other curvy, twisty nasty pieces of roads are now judged. One look at the Tail of the Dragon and riders will soon understand why it has become so infamous. This road boasts 318 sharp curves and a 400-foot elevation gain in just 11 miles.
Because of The Dragon’s steep drop-offs, tight twists and lack of guardrails, only experienced riders should attempt to master it. Novice riders who can’t resist a pass over this road should do so with great caution. Make a mistake and a part of your bike may end up being nailed to the Tree of Shame at the Crossroads of Time, near Deals Gap. Because the road is so well known, it is usually kept in good condition. It is also heavily patrolled. To get to the Dragon, riders can take SR-28 from Franklin or US 129 from Robbinsville, as these two roads intersect at Deals Gap.
Another highly recommended ride in this area is the Cherohala Skyway, which boasts 60 miles of beautiful mountain scenery -- 21 of which are located in Tennessee, the rest in North Carolina. The Cherohala Skyway connects Robbinsville, North Carolina to Tellico Plains, Tennessee, and is a tantalizing ride full of sweepers, just perfect for the biker who is tired of tight twists and just wants to let the throttle out while driving through beautiful scenery. This road, which is a National Scenic Byway, is exceptionally pretty in the fall. To reach this road from Knoxville, riders should take I-75 southwest to Sweetwater, where they will get on TN-68 and go southwest to Tellico Plains. From here, riders will take TN-165 through Tellico Plains to the beginning of Cherohala Skyway.
When the American Motorcycle Association asked its readers to name the 15 best roads in America, they mentioned three that are in Tennessee -- the two described above, plus the Natchez Trace, which runs from Natchez, Mississippi, to Nashville and follows a path that was once used by Native Americans and settlers. The 102-mile Tennessee portion of this route runs through the middle of the state and is filled with historic sites and beautiful scenery. A real plus to this route is that no commercial traffic is allowed on the Trace and it also has no stoplights or stop signs.
Cades Cove Road, which is an 11-mile loop through a portion of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is for nature loving motorcyclists. In the summer and fall months, riders should expect that this extremely popular road will be filled with traffic, but it is worth battling the congestion if you enjoy seeing bears, wild turkeys and deer. In addition, there are a lot of stops along this route where bikers can get off and hike back to see the numerous beautiful waterfalls that grace this area. To reach Cades Cove Road, bikers should enter the Great Smoky Mountain National Park through its Gatlinburg entrance on US-441. Shortly after entering the park, there will be signs that will indicate how to reach the loop.
Of course, Tennessee also has a lot of motorcycle rallies, shows, races and other events to keep its many bikers entertained, including Thunder on the Rock, which is a motorcycle rally and music festival held in May in Monteagle. Expect plenty of bands, biker games and vendor booths at this rally.
Tennessee is also the beginning of the annual Trail of Tears Ride, which leaves from Chattanooga and ends in Florence, Alabama. This ride, which draws thousands of bikers, is made in remembrance of the plight of the Native Americans.
Disclaimer: All information is provided as a service to motorcycle riders, and the opinions expressed here are subjective. Although we have tried to research this information thoroughly, it is possible that changing circumstances can cause this information to become inaccurate. In addition, the conditions and roads described can change without notice for a number of reasons, including closings, weather conditions and maintenance. Motorcycle events such as rallies and rides may also be cancelled or dates changed without notice, as well. This site is not responsible for these types of circumstances, which are beyond our control, and riders relying on this information will be doing so at their own risk. This site is not liable for any actions a rider takes based on the information provided here. Please consult other sources before heading out on these roads and do not use the directions given here as a map, as again, circumstances may have affected their accuracy.