This route takes you from the Kickstand Lodge up Hwy 28 to the junction with US 129, commonly known as Deal's Gap or The Dragon. Following US 129, you pick up Hwy 72 over to US 411. After a short jaunt down US 411, you pick up Hwy 360 over to Tellico Plains, TN, where you turn onto Hwy 165, which is also known as the Cherohala Skyway. As the Cherohala Skyway crosses into NC, it changes from Hwy 165 to Hwy 143, which will take you into Robbinsville, NC. Coming through Robbinsville, you pick up Hwy 129, following it down to Hwy 19/74. After a short ride on Hwy 19/74, you turn onto the Wayah Road which takes you to the Old Murphy Hwy. This road will bring you into Franklin, where you pick up Hwy 28, which will return you to the Kickstand Lodge.
Total length - 209 miles
Places of interest:
- Crossroads of Time (This the the gas/food/lodging stop at the entrance of Deal's Gap. It's a MUST SEE stop)
- The overlook on Deal's Gap (Everyone on bikes MUST stop here, at least on their first time through.)
- Cherohala Market (This is a biker-friendly place. To get there, at the junction of Hwy 360 and Hwy 165 in Tellico Plains, turn right and go about 1/2 mile. Out back there's covered parking and picnic tables to relax around. I can't count the number of times I've put on or took off my raingear at these tables. They have a website.
Check it out: http://www.cherohalamarket.com/
- Scenic Overlooks on the Cherohala Skyway (lots of overlooks available)
- Whitewater rafting (just past the junction of Hwy 19/74 and the Wayah Road, there's lots of whitewater rafting along the Nantahala River. There are places all along Hwy 19/74 to pull off and observe.)
- Trout fishing (Depending on the time of year, there are lots of places where folks trout fish along the first ten miles of the Wayah Road)
- Deal's Gap (I don't think I need to say anything about this road.)
- Cherohala Skyway (Once again, I don't need to comment about this road.)
- Wayah Road (This is a "hidden jewel" of a road...neat scenery, elevation changes and LOTS of twisties.)
- Hwy 28 (You'll be riding Hwy 28 in two separate segments. The first segment covers the route from the Kickstand Lodge up to Deal's Gap. You first encounter some great sweepers and then, as you get closer to Deal's Gap, there's a sharp increase in hairpin twisties. The second segment of Hwy 28 will be on your route from Franklin back to the Kickstand Lodge. (The last 10 miles of Hwy 28 coming from Franklin to Hwy 19 is my all-time favorite road.)
It's always wise to top-off at the Crossroads of Time and then again at the Cherohala Market. Later, gas is available in Robbinsville and at the junction of Hwy 129 and Hwy 19/74. Finally, there's lots of gas available around Franklin.
If you've never ridden through Deal's Gap or the Cherohala Skyway, you should spend some time on this website:
Deal's Gap and the Cherohala Skyway are unique roads, appealing to bikers of all types. They each present different types of challenges which most riders don't encounter much, if at all, in their normal riding. The number of biker accidents, injuries and deaths that occur on these two roads each year are testimony to the challenges that await. I cannot stress these points enough....don't overestimate your abilities....be sensible....ride at your own pace....keep a sharp lookout for other bikers, especially sportbikes coming up behind you....watch your mirrors. If you don't, you'll end up as one of the frequent "stastistics".
- Always bring raingear. The weather in this part of the country can go from "absolutely beautiful" to "monsoon" in a matter of minutes.
- If you're riding the Cherohala Skyway, bring some additional clothing. At the highest parts of the Skyway, the temperature can sometimes be as much as 30 degrees cooler than at lower elevations.