We have done the Tail of the Dragon twice by bike and once by SUV. We are leaving in the morning to go tame that Dragon another time. We love the ride, and the Cherohala is worth every second. We have gone in the summer, loving that as we climbed the temperatures were more moderate. We went last fall and were about a week early for the most dynamic leaves changing; however, was still a beautiful ride. Be sure to layer clothing, as you will need to take off and put on, depending on elevation. In early April we drove the Dragon. We started out a very comfortable 72 degrees, and dropped to 57 degrees at the top of the elevation. Glad we were in a vehicle for that one. We have only gone during weekdays, and are repeatedly told that is the best time for least traffic. We prefer to stay in the Tellico Plains area, which is perfect as it sits perfectly at the beginning of the Cherohala Skwy (Hwy 165) and easily is accessible to Hwy 411, which you can come off the Dragon (Hwy 129) to hwy 72. Hwy 72 to Hwy 411 and Hwy 411 to Hwy 68, back into Tellico.
Fri Jan 11, 2013 at 9:10 AM
I recently had the amazing opportunity to experience all of these routes in a day. We left from Clarksville, TN at around 530 in the AM and heading straight for the Tail of the Dragon. I'll admit that after seeing videos of US129 on YouTube, I was a little intimidated. Speed limits on the Dragon are posted at 30; which if you ride a large bike like mine are fine and sometimes a neccessary thing. We wound up going back and forth between TN and NC on the Tail 3 times before heading further south to take the Cherohala Skyway for the return trip home. The skyway is breathtaking and does put you up near 5000ft. Something that I will never forget is the humongous black bear the 3 of us encountered about 14 miles from Tellico Plains. Luckily for us it was a peaceful meeting. My advice to anyone planning on stopping for a picnic along the Cherohala is to stop only at the rest and scenic look areas.
There are a couple of outfits set up along the Tail and the Skyway that take professional grade photos of you, your buddies and your bikes (killboy.com and US129photos.com). You can then go to these sites and view all your pics and pay for downloading or CD roms if you so choose.
We put over 650 miles on our one day tour through these routes and despite having a case of excessive monkey butt(which was worse than what terrorists experience in Guantanimo); it was worth every second, and I'll always be ready to make the run again if given the opportunity.
Keep it between the lines!
Fri Jan 11, 2013 at 9:09 AM