4 AWESOME MOTORCYCLE RIDES IN SEVIERVILLE, TN
Plus helpful tips from experienced riders.
With its scenic roadways, sweeping curves, rolling hills, and mountain climbs, Sevierville, Tennessee rates as a prime destination for any motorcycle rider. Whether you’re looking for an exploratory ride or multi-day tour, the roads in and around Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain hometown are loaded with stunning views.
“This area is nirvana for motorcyclists who enjoy twisty roads and great scenery,” says Paul Britton, admin for the East Tennessee Motorcycle Association. “I’m looking for remote roads with less traffic, challenging curves, and great views. A large part of riding is the social aspect, so we like to have good stop locations and restaurants to share time together.”
Around Sevierville, you can give your bike lots of exercise plus find plenty of reasons to stop and explore. Go fishing, hiking, rafting, or golfing. Visit award-winning attractions. Tackle adrenaline-pumping adventures. Dig into local food. Go shopping. Relax at your pick of overnight accommodations from hotels to campgrounds to cabins. However you define fun, you’ll find it here.
Here are four awesome routes among the dozens that weave throughout the region:
Where: U.S. Route 411 S (aka Dolly Parton Parkway)
Distance: 35.2 miles
Time: approx. 45 minutes
This scenic route combines local history, interesting attractions, and plenty of photo ops. Start in Historic Downtown Sevierville at the iconic Dolly Parton Statue in front of the Sevier County Courthouse. Travel east past the marker for the Battle of Fair Garden, the largest Civil War battle fought in Sevier County. Farther along is the Historic Harrisburg Covered Bridge, built in 1875. Several miles away is Fox Cemetery with a dramatic view of English Mountain. Blowing Cave Mill, completed in 1880, is located near the head of Flat Creek in the Byrd’s Cross Roads community. Forbidden Caverns offers an underground look at English Mountain with towering natural chimneys, grottos, a stream, and the largest known wall of rare cave onyx. The last stop is Bush’s Beans Visitors Center with its one-of-a-kind café, country store gift shop, and newly renovated museum.
Tail of the Dragon
Where: U.S. 129 (aka Calderwood Highway)
Distance: 11 miles
Time: approx. 30 minutes
The Tail of the Dragon is considered one of the world’s best and most challenging roads for motorcycles and sports car. It’s a roller-coaster-like driving thrill—head elsewhere if you’re averse to risk or want to look at scenery rather than keep your eyes on the road. Located near the Great Smoky Mountains and Cherokee National Forest, the two-lane, 11-mile stretch boasts 318 twists, turns, hairpins, and curlicues with no intersecting roads or driveways. It’s been featured in several movies and TV shows including Top Gear, Thunder Rod, Two Lane Blacktop, and The Fugitive.
Where: Exit 443 off I-40
Distance: 31.5 miles
Time: approx. 52 minutes
Closed to commercial traffic, the Foothills Parkway is a beautiful route in the Wears Valley area with scenic views, tight curves, and multiple elevation changes. “It’s a great road with fast sweepers and great vista overlooks,” says Britton. You can ride it to connect to another route, but it’s also enjoyable on its own. This National Parkway is maintained by the National Park Service and was originally conceived in 1944 as a 71-mile route but remains unfinished; the 31.5-mile section is complete and an 18-mile segment is nearest Sevierville. “It’s a delightful ride on a two-lane road with not a lot of traffic,” says Joe Purser, a member of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association. “It offers some of the best views of the Smokies from the foothills.”
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Where: U.S. 441
Distance: 42 miles
Time: approx. 90 minutes
Drive U.S. 441 through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to climb approximately 3,000 feet up to Newfound Gap at an elevation of 5,046 feet. Here you can straddle the Tennessee / North Carolina state line, walk a portion of the famed Appalachian Trail, and see amazing vistas. Other scenic stops along the 42-mile route include Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the tallest point in Tennessee, the highest point along the Appalachian Trail, and the third-highest mountain east of the Mississippi River. This ride offers spectacular views of the Smoky Mountains and passes through a variety of forest ecosystems. It’s free to ride through the park, but parking fees will begin in 2022.
Tips from Riders Who’ve Been There, Done That
“Riding in the Smoky Mountains requires planning ahead, it may be very different from what you’re used to,” says Paul Britton, who’s been riding for nearly 50 years. “It’s critical that your motorcycle is in good shape, your tires are in good condition with the proper air pressures. Having your suspension set up for your weight and riding style makes a big difference in the handling. Then it’s a matter of riding your own ride. Don’t ride beyond your experience and capability: mountain roads are unforgiving.”
“Pick up a free Motorcycle Touring Map at any of the area motorcycle dealerships,” says Joe Purser, who’s been riding over 40 years. “It’s a great reference. If you have a copy of the map it’s like a treasure map that shows you where everything is. About 20 to 30 routes overlap and go into each other.”