SELF GUIDED DUAL SPORT DAY TRIPS
GSMmotoRent has many easy to follow routes for dual sport day trips with turn by turn directions that help you find the type of riding you are looking for. Of course you don’t have to follow one of these, feel free to go exploring on your own. We are located right in the center of two great areas to ride, that being the Cherokee National Forest area around Tellico Plains, and the area to the East of the Park in the Pisgah National Forest. Our day routes average 180 miles in length and will have between 35 to 75 miles off the pavement, so plan on 7 to 8 hours out. Below are short descriptions of routes that take you out and back to our base in Townsend. All the gravel portions are maintained forest and park service roads and are ideal for the rider with limited experience on loose surfaces. We have many routes, some that are variations of these and others that include more challenging conditions for the more experienced rider. Detailed route sheets are included with your motorcycle rental.
NOTE- Please note that Parson’s Branch Road in the National Park continues to be closed due to downed trees, the Park Service claims they don’t have the funds to clean up and reopen anytime soon. Because of this the two Cherohala Routes have been modified to bypass Parson’s Branch until which time it has been reopened, the maps below do not reflect this.
Here, you’ll start by entering Smoky Mountains National Park and head to Cades Cove; about halfway through the loop at Cades Cove you turn off on to Parson’s Branch Rd. This is the old South entry into Cade’s Cove, gravel with shallow water crossings, it is one of the local’s favorites to ride. This ends at Hwy 129, also known as the Dragon. From there you’ll head down 129 and take a cutoff which takes you around Santeetlah Lake on into Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, home to some of the oldest trees in the Appalachians. Back on gravel you’ll head back up the mountain and intersect the Cherohala Skyway close to the Tennessee, North Carolina border. Then, you’ll ride back down the Cherohala to Tellico Plains, Tennessee and stop for lunch. From here you’ll ride up a scenic road to the Green Cove area to more gravel, to the top of the Cherohala again where you have a choice of returning on the road or doing the gravel back to Hwy 129. Once on 129 its pavement all the way home, but this includes the Dragon and the Foothills Pkwy back to our base in Townsend.
Leave out the same way as Loop #1, once back to the Cherohala Skyway you’ll head down North River Rd to the Green Cove area. A bit of asphalt will bring you to FR #126 past Green Cove Lake, lot’s of nice views from this road. Turn right at the intersection with FR#384, back to River Rd. then on into Tellico Plains for lunch. Then on back up the Skyway to Indian Boundary, this will bring you down to the Citico Creek area where you’ll intersect Doublecamp Rd, one of my favorites! Doublecamp makes a big loop back to Citico Creek Rd, then on the road back to Townsend via Hwys. 72, 129, Foothills Pkwy, and Hwy 321.
This route takes you into Great Smoky Mountains National Park and out through Gatlinburg. From there you’ll head up HWY 321 through Cosby and around the north end of the park. Most of the road just past Cosby is the actual park boundary. This will take you to a little known road that is every bit as challenging as the Dragon but with very little traffic. You’ll cross over into North Carolina as you go over the northern-most section of the park. Sections of this road are graveled to attest how little traveled it is. Once you come back down to civilization you’ll go through Maggie Valley and stop for lunch. From here you head up to Soco Gap and get on the Blue Ridge Pkwy for a short ride to the Balsam Mtn. turn off. Follow this to the end and pick up Heintooga Rd, which is in the park and one way, about 17 miles back into Cherokee NC. Then a relaxing ride back through the park to Townsend. NOTE: An option can be added to the above Park Loop route that takes you to the Buzzard’s Roost overlook, well worth the 13 miles total to check it out.
Head out the same way as Park Loop #1, after lunch you head back up and over the mountain by the Cataloochee ski area and down under I-40 to some great Forest Roads in the Pisgah National Forest. Be prepared for a couple of water crossings on this one, also you’ll cross the AT several times before coming back down out of the mountains. Then on back to Townsend with a little known shortcut that will keep you out of most of the traffic in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. NOTE: An option can be added to the above Park Loop route that takes you to the Buzzard’s Roost overlook, well worth the 13 miles total to check it out.
This route is for experienced riders only! Leaves out to the East just like the above Park Loop routes, you’ll turn left at the intersection of FR#288, this takes you by Buzzard’s Roost, one of the best overlooks in the Smokies in our mind. Once you cross under I-40 it’s back up into the mountains as you work your way to Hartford, TN for lunch. From there more forest roads up to Max Patch Rd., then a short ride to the start of Hurricane Creek Rd. This route has you heading down hill on Hurricane Creek. Several rocky water crossings, ruts, ledges and 8 miles later you dump out onto I-40 for a mile to the next exit. Back up FR#288 to a little used trail, FR#3537. Again some pretty good ruts and a nice water crossing later you’ll be back to Mt Sterling Rd and return the same as the Park Loop routes.