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My favorite rides - The Cherohala Skyway

Taken at Santeetlah Gap, the Skyway crosses the mountains in the foreground
The Cherohala Skyway winds it's way through these mountains (Photo: Bruce McCrary)

The mountains of western North Carolina are a motorcyclists playground.  Riders routinely come from all over the country, and the world, to experience the great roads, spectacular scenery and motorcycle friendly atmosphere found all around the region.  Robbinsville, North Carolina is the unofficial hub for most riders because of it's close proximity to a couple of the best known roads in motorcycling, the infamous "Tail of the Dragon" and the Cherohala Skyway.

Big Junction viewing area - elevation 5235 feet (Photo: Bruce McCrary)

The Cherohala Skyway is a 36 mile National Scenic Byway that begs for sight seeing but demands respect. The road surface itself is wide and in great shape, most of the turns are fun sweepers and there are more than a few tight ones that will get your attention if you come in to them carrying too much momentum, but all are very well marked. What makes this road stand out are the elevation changes. Robbinsville sits roughly 1100 feet above sea level, 12 miles outside of town at Santeetlah Gap, mile marker 0 on the Skyway is at 2345 feet. From there the road twists, turns and climbs to almost 5400 feet at the Santeetlah overlook located at mile marker 11.  Over the next 21 miles the road winds it's way down to Tellico Plains, Tennessee at barely 900 feet above sea level

The Bald River falls near Tellico Plains, Tennessee
Bald River falls near Tellico Plains, Tennessee (photo: Bruce McCrary)
Every mile of the Skyway is a joy to ride and a sight to behold.  The views from every scenic overlook will make most people gasp and utter "Oh my".  But some of the most beautiful spots, as usual, are off the beaten path.   A great detour that is well worth the time and effort is Forest Service Road 210 just outside of Tellico Plains, Tennessee.  This paved service road meanders along side the Bald River for a couple of miles then crosses over it at the 100' high Bald River Falls.  There is a parking area right at the falls and foot trails that lead you to the top and beyond where swimming is allowed for those who can brave the cold mountain water.
For more info: Click here and feel free to contact Bruce at


  • Patty Davis 5 years ago

    The Cherohala Skyway is on my list. We did the Blue Ridge Pkwy in 2007 and followed it up with the 'Dragon.' Unfortunately we were not able to do the Cherohala during that trip. So that means another trip for us! :)

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