Our Favorite NC Mountain Ride
Our last blog post featured 6 can’t-miss motorcycle rides in the U.S. This week, we’re focusing on our favorite ride in North Carolina, which includes Fontana Lake, Tail of the Dragon, and the Cherohala Skyway Loop.
What to Expect
Knowing what to expect from a motorcycle ride before climbing onto your bike can help make your trip more enjoyable. Don’t worry—the scenery and challenge will still take your breath away.
How long will it take?
This ride usually takes us about 6-8 hours. You should expect the same because you’ll want to take your time and enjoy the ride. We recommend staying well within the speed limit, especially on the Tail of the Dragon.
What’s a good hotel nearby?
We stay in Robbinsville, North Carolina whenever we go to ride this loop. There are two hotels we recommend:
- The Microtel Inn & Suites
- The River’s Edge Treehouse Resort
Both are located on US Hwy 129, which makes them convenient for this ride. While rates may differ from the time of this posting, these accommodations currently range from about $85/night to about $150/night with plenty of options in between.
On the Road
We always start our ride by heading north on NC-143 to NC-28. Then we turn left (north) on NC-28.
NC-28 will take you around Fontana Lake. We always detour for a stop by the dam, which has a gift shop and restrooms. The dam itself was built in the 1940s by the Tennessee Valley Authority, and is crossed by the Appalachian Trail.
Once you’re back on your bike, continue on NC-28 until it runs into US-129 at Deals Gap.
The Tail of the Dragon
Before you ride the Tail of the Dragon, there are some restaurants in this area—you may want to stop for a bite. You can also gas up and visit the Tree of Shame, which displays pieces of motorcycles belonging to those who tried to “beat the Dragon.”
We weren’t kidding earlier when we said staying within the speed limit is important.
The Dragon is 11 miles long, and features 318 curves.
We’re not talking the kind of curves you can just lean into. You’ll need to steer into these switchbacks and hairpin turns in order to avoid dragging your floorboards. It’s dangerous,
but a skilled biker can have a thrilling—and safe—ride.
Congratulations—you made it through the Tail of the Dragon! Hopefully you won’t be contributing to the Tree of Shame.
Continue on US-129 to TN-72. Bear left, following TN-72 to US-411, to TN-360. To start the Cherohala Skyway ride, turn left onto Tellico Plains (TN-165, then NC-143 once you cross the
state line). Before you leave Talco Plains, consider getting gas—it’ll be your last opportunity for more than 50 miles.
This last stretch of the ride is known for its numerous overlooks. Get off of your bike and look around. Stretch your legs. The long-range views are beautiful at elevations of up to 5,500 feet. Like the rest of the ride before it, the Cherohala Skyway is curvy—be prepared to take your time and enjoy the challenge.
After the Ride
Back in Robbinsville, relax in your pair of Gravitate® Jeans, with your favorite beverage, and enjoy that you just had a full day of the most beautiful and challenging motorcycle ride the Blue Ridge Mountains have to offer.