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Cherohala Skyway and Tennessee Motorcycles

The Cherohala Skyway, one of the spectacular roadways in the smokies, was completed in the fall of 1996 after being under construction for some thirty-four years. It is Tennessee and North Carolina's most expensive highway carrying a price tag of $100,000,000. Winding up and over 5,400 foot of mountains for 15 miles in North Carolina and descending another 21 miles into the deeply forested backcountry of Tennessee.


The road crosses through the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests thus the name "Chero...hala". The Skyway is becoming well known in both motorcycling and sports car enthusiast's circles for its long, sweeping corners and scenic views.

This road enthusiast's dream connects Tellico Plains, Tennessee with Robbinsville, North Carolina. It can be desolate at night and extremely dangerous during the winter months. There are no facilities other than restrooms for the entire 36 miles so make sure you are properly prepared to make the crossing. There is little evidence of civilization from views that rival or surpass any along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Video from the Cherohala Skyway

Beginning at Santeetlah Gap on the North Carolina side (mile marker 0, at elevation 2660 feet), the road quickly twists and ascends to Santeetlah, an overlook at mile marker 11, the highest overlook at 5390 feet. Along this section you will ride the mountain top for another seven miles to the Tennessee state line. It can be cold and cloudy riding the mountain ridges, so make dress properly, even in the summer months. Travelers have been caught in pea soup fog, thick clouds, and bone chilling temperatures. The mile-high ride is always a new and unforgettable experience no matter how many times you go.
At mile marker 16 the descent starts into the Tellico River basin. There are more spectacular scenic areas on the Tennessee side. A detour to Bald River Falls on paved Forest Service Road 210 is well worth the short trip. Water cascades over 100 feet onto the rocks below - all which can be seen from the comfort of your motorcycle or automobile.

The Tellico River, at the lower elevations on the Tennessee side, is famous for it's trout fishing, and when the water is up, can be quite a challenge for canoeing and kayaking. The river leads you to the sleepy town of Tellico Plains where you can fill your tank and feed your apetite.

Seasonal Changes:

The Fall is a beautiful time with the changing leaves and cool weather. This is always a time of low rainfall making it a great for camping, hiking and outdoor activities.

The Winter brings ice and snow to the Cherohala Skyway. The roadways are treated to keep the Skyway passable during the winter months. The leaves have all fallen leaving way to spectacular views. Traffic is very low and animal tracks can been seen in the snow.

The Spring offers the most beautiful time of year on the Cherohala Skyway. The flowers are blooming and the temperatures are nice and warm but not too hot. This is a good time for all activities. This is also when Black Bears are very present on the Skyway so be cautious.

The Summer brings unpredictable weather this time of year. The days are longer allowing more time for sightseeing. The days can bring hot temperatures in the 90s to lower elevations. A great escape from the heat is the higher elevations offering cooler temperatures and wonderful views. There are memorizing sunsets and sunrises to be seen this time of year.


Mileage to Cherohala Skyway
Atlanta, GA 181
Birmingham, AL 223
Cincinnati, OH 305
Nashville, TN 192
Raleigh, NC 419
Tampa, FL 639
Washington D.C. 546

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Tennessee Motorcycles and Cherohala Skyway