Hit Counter

Ramblings from a Valkyrian about the Smoky Mtns./Long

Posted By: AtlantaAllen <alphaaln@aol.com>
Date: 6/14/2001 at 07:28:59

I live in Atlanta, but have a log cabin 10 miles north of Gatlinburg and keep my '97 Valk up there.
I've had the opportunity to ride a lot of the back roads (and front roads) and wanted to offer
some thoughts for you guys visiting the Smoky (there's no "e") Mtn. area.

First, if you're leaving Knoxville to go to the area the Alcoa Hy./Hy 321 route through Maryville is much more scenic than either I-40 or Chapman Hy. to Sevierville. This route will run you by the Foothills Parkway on the south side of the Park.
This section of the Foothills Parkway is one of my favorite rides and is the way to go to Deals Gap.

Riding the "Dragon" into Deals Gap is neat if you've never done it, but it's a workout because there are many very slow turns and you're always on the lookout for crotch rockets that will blow by inches from you. To me, the Foothills Parkway is the best part of this trip.

If you continue past the Parkway, you will come into Townsend. There's lots of camping available
on the banks of the river with lots of shade trees.

You can go straight through Townsend which will take you into the Park. At the "Y", you can take a left to go to Gatlinburg or a right to go to Cades Cove. Cades Cove is route that dead ends into a preserved 19th century mountain. Neat but not great for riding. If you take the left going into Gatlinburg, you're going to find a beautiful
ride that is much better before 10:00 in the morning because there is less traffic. This section and the section up to Newfound Gap is the heart of the Park.

Back in Townsend, you can also take a left and continue onto Pigeon Forge on Hy. 321. . This road
is more commercial, but it's still a worthwhile ride. This highway is also called Wears Valley Road. Once you get to Wears Valley, there are great side roads. One is Line Springs Road to the right which will eventually take you back into the Park.

If you continue on 321 towards Pigeon Forge there is a great restaurant on your left that looks like a dump, but serves gourmet food. It's ultra casual and friendly, but the food they serve will do a number on you. It's upscale dining in a place that looks like a dump from the outside.

Once in Pigeon Forge, I would suggest you get out as fast as you can. I know there are many rallys here and a lot of eating and entertainment places, but traffic is a nightmare and you can waste a lot of a day there.

From Pigeon Forge you can go right to go into G'burg or go left towards Sevierville a few miles up the road. In Sevierville, again I suggest you keep going because it is very commercial also.
You can either head back to Knoxville from there or take a right on Dolly Parton Parkway/Hy 25 towards NewPort. If you go that way look for 416 off to you right. It's about 5 miles up the road.
This road is great riding with little traffic and puts you out on Hy. 321 again north of G'burg.
I love this road and all the side roads off of it.
You can explore this area on a bike for a long time. The small side roads are in good shape and it's like riding in an advertisement. A lot of Americana.

Once you get to 321 you can take a left to go north. My place is in the village of Coobly Nob on the left. you drive across the golf course and up into the small mountain to explore the homes in this little area. Further up 321 you can turn left onto Rocky Flats Road for some of the best out of the way scenery you've ever seen. When that road dead ends, turn left and it will take you back to 416. Try this road.

If you don't turn left on Rocky Flats, at least go about another 1/4 mile on 321 and stop at Big Walleys to eat. Big Walleys is next to a laundramat and coin car wash and for my money has the best food in the area. Great specials at night and great burgers. We stopped going into G'burg to pay inflated prices for lousy food.
This place is not fancy at all, but the food is served with love. Great people, great food, great prices,( also great breakfast ).

I almost forgot about Profits Bar B Que which is on the left before you get to Rocky Flats or Big Walleys. This place has good food, and you sit outside on a screened in porch to eat while listening to live Blue Grass music every night. They start playing about6:30 or so. This is a good place.

When 321 dead ends, take a left to the entrance of another Foothills Parkway which goes for 6 miles. This is beautiful stuff. It dead ends into I-40 which you can take back to Knoxville.

Some tips:

Avoid Pigeon Forge and the other commercial areas,
they will add to your stress instead of relieving it.

If you go into Gatlinburg, go to the Ripley's Aquarium that just opened. It's better than most of the aquariums in the world. (No kidding. It's got a people mover that takes you under a lot of the fish.)

The smallest roads are the best. 416/321 areas have great small road riding with a lot of rustic scenery.

Take the park entrance at Townsend going towards Gatlinburg, turn right onto 441 at the dead end, go
up the mountain and through Newfound Gap, then past the Indian Village on your left, take a left onto the Blue Ridge parkway, to 19, to 276, then I-40 back to Knoxville is a fantastic ride which should not take more than 6 hours.

Eat at the little restaurants. They are the best.

There is a cool artist community off 416 with slick local artwork.

Deals Gap is overrated and dangerous to boot.

Do as much of your riding as you can as early as you can. The Park roads without traffic are magical.

I've tried to give a flavor of some of the stuff that the locals like and some of the stuff I've come to enjoy. If you've got any questions, I'll try to answer, but I'm heading out Monday.

Hope it helps and enjoy. Sorry to be so long.


ValkyrieRiders.com  F6Rider Webzine    ShopTalk    Just Pics    Valkyrie Hot Links