The Smoky Mountain 450 is a 3 day, 3 night self guided dual sport motorcycle tour. This route will take you through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, as well as parts of the Cherokee, Nantahala, and Pisgah National Forests, and covers close to 500 miles of which about 180 of those are not paved. We would have called it the Smoky Mountain 500, but that would sound like a Nascar race! This ride is available anytime throughout our riding season here in the Smokies which typically runs from early April till late October depending on weather.
These are all class 1 and 2 gravel forest service roads that can really vary in condition depending on the weather, traffic, and last time they were maintained, expect anything from rutted with pot holes to nice well graded and packed to fresh loose gravel. Be prepared is the best advice as this truly is an adventure in the mountains.
What to expect
Your package includes one of our dual sport bikes, 200 to 650cc, 3 nights lodging, map and easy to follow route sheet package, and airport P/U and Return if needed. The first night’s lodging is right next door, so after checking out your bike you’ll have a chance to familiarize yourself with the routes and get an early start in the morning. You ask “why not GPS routes?” Well, we like maps and dead reckoning. We also think GPS takes some of the fun out of the adventure? The addresses of motels at the end of the day are included if you must, but who knows how GPS will route you. The 5 National Geographic Trails Illustrated Maps included in your package have been highlighted showing the route with the map # and appropriate side of map referenced on the route sheet. The main route is highlighted in pink and the bypass sections are in green. Routes are designed so that you have the opportunity to refuel and eat around the mid way point of each day.
Be Prepared, wear appropriate riding gear. Elevations will go from less than 1000’ to more than 6000’ above sea level. Even on a pretty day it is not uncommon to encounter a thunderstorm in the mountains. It is a good idea to bring a small packable hand saw with you in case you come across a downed tree. And water, always take water with you.
Mileages per day are as follows:
Day 1 has you leaving our shop here in Townsend, and heading straight into the Park. You will head to Cade’s Cove where about half way around the loop you will pick up Forge Creek Rd. which leads to Parson’s Branch Rd, Parson’s Branch is considered one of the favorite roads around by many. Please be advised that the traffic in Cade’s Cove can become quite slow due to folks looking at the wildlife, so be patient. It is best to get out good and early as the loop opens at daylight, so if you can get in line before opening you can shoot right through. Also, Cade’s Cove loop is closed to motorized vehicles on Saturday and Wednesday mornings till 10 AM, May 8th through september 25th for bicyclists. Parson’s Branch road dumps out on Hwy 129, known by many as the Dragon, 318 turns in 11 miles, if Parson’s Branch didn’t wake you up this part of the Dragon will. From here you’ll ride a mix of Forest Service Rds. and tarmac to Tellico Plains where you can refuel and have lunch. Then on to some more of each with a little stretch on the Cherohala Skyway giving you a little rest. To wrap up day one you will then head over Porterfield Gap Rd and then on to what’s called the Dirt Dragon, like the paved one but a nice twisty gravel road which leads you down into Andrews for your first night’s stay.
Day 2 takes you out of Andrews headed east into the Pisgah Nat’l Forest. You’ll ride a mix of gravel and tarmac going over Tellico Gap and Wesser Gap before coming down to the little town of Dillsboro, NC. Here you can get some lunch and maybe see the Smoky Mountain Railroad coming into town. Not much off road this afternoon except the route does take you to the Wayehutta OHV. This of course is optional, there is a $5 fee for riding these trails, most are not really too hard, real good time to test your off road ability. Of course if you decide to bypass this area you will end up in Maggie Valley with enough time to check out the Wheels Through Time museum, really cool museum specializing in rare American Vintage Motorycles, check them out at wheelsthroughtime.com . From here you’ll ride one of my favorite roads nobody knows about, Hwy 281, beautiful views and nice sweeping turns which leads you to Wolf Mountain Rd, about half of it is paved, not long but a hoot to ride. From here you’ll end up on the Blue Ridge Pkwy. for about 32 miles before dropping down into Maggie Valley for your second night out on the road. This part of the Pkwy. is one of the best, reaching the highest elevation on the Pkwy. at 6053’.
Day 3 has you heading out over the mountain by the Cataloochee Ski Resort, then on down some back roads heading up toward Max Patch Rd. You’ll be deep in the Cherokee and Pisgah National Forests this day dropping down into Hartford, TN for lunch. After lunch, more of the same with a stop at Buzzard’s Roost, after a 100’ walk you’ll see one of the most incredible views around. After another 12 miles or so of gravel the road will turn to asphalt, this is Hwy 32 and rivals the Dragon, only nobody knows about it, enjoy! Then its back to Townsend, we got ya coming back a route where you shouldn’t hit much traffic through Wear’s Valley.
Price, per rider, based on double occupancy, including bike, 3 nights lodging, routing, airport P/U, and all taxes:
|Yamaha XT250, Suzuki DRZ400, Kawasaki KLR650||$669.00|
|BMW 700 or 800GS, Africa Twin||$849.00|
|Lodging and Route Pkg only||$289.00|
|Fourth night lodging, Townsend||$99.00|
|Pillion rider or single occupancy, add||$179.00|
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