Blue Ridge Parkway
VA & WV Ladder
Diamondback Ride
Sliding Rock Loop
Cherohala Ride
Foothills Ride
Moonshiner28 Ride
Blue Ridge to WV Ride

New England

Appalachian Rides

Cherohala/Dragon Loop



This 139 mile Ride begins and ends at the Fontana Village Resort in Fontana Dam, NC.


Ride Map


This ride is one of the classic loops for riders visiting the Smoky Mountains. Either direction is great depending on whether you want to hit the Dragon or the Cherohala first.

Start by riding NC 28 east and then turning right onto NC Route 143 and following it to Robbinsville. Enter the Nantahala National Forest, pass Santeetlah Lake, and start climbing the Cherohala Skyway. The Cherohala is similar to the best of the Blue Ridge Parkway (high elevation, scenic vistas, some nice curves.)


Cherohala Skyway Sign


Cherohala Skyway


Stop for a break and good food at Tellico Grains in Tellico Plains, TN.

Get back on the bike for a relaxed and scenic ride north on TN Route 360 to Vonore and Maryville. Turn right on TN 72 and follow it and Route 129 to the Dragon.

Stop just before the Dragon at the Calderwood Dam Scenic Overlook to admire the view.


Calderwood Dam Scenic Overlook


The Dragon (TN 129) can be a lot of fun to ride with a few caveats:

1) Try to ride it early in the day when it is not crowded. Weekdays are best. Busy weekends can get crowded and frustrating.

2) Prepare your mind for blind decreasing radius turns. Never charge into a corner. A GPS can be a huge help reading curves, but do not rely on it.

3) Watch for people straying over the centerline. Prepare for it. Do not hug the center line.

4) Watch for speed traps. Consider riding the Dragon in one direction to make sure that it is not being heavily enforced. You can then ride in the opposite direction without distraction.

Ridden with the proper mindset and the Dragon can be a blast. I rode it 10 times on my last trip.



Dragon Map (labeled)


Riding the Dragon


After riding the Dragon, stop at the Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort and pick up souvenirs and see the Tree of Shame. Go across the street to see the Dragon Statues and peruse more Dragon souvenirs.


Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort


Tree of Shame


Dragon Tail Statue


Dragon Statue


Leave the Dragon and ride east on North Carolina Route 28 through Nantahala National Forest. NC 28 from the Dragon to Route 143 in Robbinsville might be my favorite road in the Appalachians. The curves are plentiful with good sight lines.

NC Route 28


The route ends back at the Fontana Village Resort.