Foothills Parkway/Little River Loop
This 160 mile Ride begins and ends at the
Fontana Village Resort
in Fontana Dam, NC.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.***