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Appalachian Rides

Foothills Parkway/Little River Loop

 

 

This 160 mile Ride begins and ends at the Fontana Village Resort in Fontana Dam, NC.


Ride Map

 

 

Ride west on North Carolina Route 28 through Nantahala National Forest toward the Dragon. NC 28 from Route 143 in Robbinsville to the Dragon might be my favorite road in the Appalachians. The curves are plentiful with good sight lines. There could not be a better warmup for the Dragon.

 


NC Route 28

 

 

Before riding the Dragon (TN 129), 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

 

 

The Dragon 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

 

Stop at the Calderwood Dam Scenic Overlook at the end of the Dragon to admire the view.

 


Calderwood Dam Scenic Overlook

 

Turn right on the Foothills Parkway. The Parkway is a nice ride at elevation somewhat similar to the Cherohola Skyway. It is the prefect cool down after the twists of the Dragon.

 


Foothills Parkway

 

 

Turn right on U.S. Route 321 and follow it through the town of Townsend, TN. Continue straight on TN Route 331 and enter the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The road name changes to Little River Road when you enter the park. This road is a very pretty & twisty ride along the Little River.

 

 


Little River Road

 

 

Turn right on U.S. Route 441 near Gatlinburg. This road is a very scenic up and over with a very cool 360 degree corkscrew turn. 

 


Route 441 Corkscrew Turn

 

The road continues toward Newfound Gap and the Appalachian Trail near the State line. There are scenic overlooks and restrooms here.

 


Route 441

 

 

Continue on Route 441 to Cherokee. Turn right on U.S. Route 19 and follow it and Route 74 back to NC Route 28. Ride this fantastic road back to the Fontana Village Resort.

***This is a great route, but try to do it at an off time since Little River Road and Route 441 can get crowded.***