We did this ride while staying at a KOA in Sweetwater Tennessee. We were on our way up to Connecticut to our summer workamping gig. Our friends from New York had contacted me and said they were planning a trip down south. They were going to be staying at a hotel at the base of the mountains. We figured it would be great to meet up with them on our way up north and do some riding with them. One of the rides that were planned was the Cherohala Skyway.
We Made It/Our NY Friends, Not So Much
Well, we made it from Florida to our campground in Tennessee but unfortunately, the weather in New York was not very riding conducive and they had to cancel their trip. Bummer, we thought. Bad luck for them but we still had some nice weather so we were not going to let it go to waste. Of course, the Cherohala Skyway was on our list.
Since it was early April when we went and the temperatures were still a little cool out, the trees had not started to regrow their leaves yet. That made the skyway look a little bare but the upside was since it was so early in the season there was no traffic yet either. After looking at the maps, we decided we would ride Cherohala up to Lake Santeetlah, turn around and head back.
Stop At The Visitors Center
As you are nearing the entrance from the Tellico Plains side, we recommend you stop into the visitor center located on your right side. It’s a great place to stretch, use the bathrooms and pick up some maps with more cool roads to ride. After leaving the visitor center and were approaching the Cherohala Skyway entrance we noticed an unusual house. There were all kinds of metal works of unusual things spread out across the lawn.
The Cherohala Skyway was opened for traffic in 1996. It runs from Tellico Plains Tennessee to Robbinsville North Carolina and is approximately 40 miles long. The road is paved and the condition of the road for our ride was good.
The ride up the Cherohala was nothing less than awesome. Starting out with water views and leading us through an abundance of twisty roads was just part of the experience. There are many scenic overlooks you can stop and grab some great photo-ops. we also used one of these scenic overlooks to stop and eat lunch at.
As we were eating our lunch another biker came riding in. We wound up chatting for a while (what a surprise…lol) and came to find out he had moved into the area many years ago. The coolest thing was we could see his house from the overlook!!!
After A Chat We Were On Our Way
After chatting for a while and getting some of the area histories, which we always love, we were on our way back up to Lake Santeetlah. The elevation slowly climbs from approximately 900 feet above sea level at the Tellico Plains end to 5400 feet above sea level near the Robbinsville North Carolina end.
There are a few signs warning motorcyclists of the curves and elevation. Apparently, these were high accident corridors. We had no issues. We actually went a little bit past Lake Santeetlah and found a dirt area with a sign for hiking trails and that is where we turned around.
As I stated earlier, there are numerous places to pull over with scenic overlooks. There are also many places to pull over, park and go hiking. There was also one or two places that had restrooms. Well, pit toilets…lol.
This Ride Gets 2 Thumbs Up!!!
We would highly recommend this ride to anyone. We would also recommend that you pack a lunch and some snacks so you can enjoy the ride and not rush through it. Be sure to stop often to get the different mountain views. On a side note, when we neared Lake Santeetlah there was some kind of building that looked like it might be a place to eat but it was closed.
We have put together a video of our ride on our YouTube channel. It was super hard to cut it down from its raw footage of about 2 hours down to the 14 minutes it is now. Even so, you should be able to get a good idea of the type of ride it is.
Ride Often/Ride Safe