Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Cherohala Skyway/ Tail Of The Dragon 120 Mile Loop

Just when you think you've heard it all, we were introduced to the "Tail of the Dragon" and the Cherohala Skyway, two of the best touring roads in America. The Cherohala Skyway (a designated National Scenic Byway)connects the Cherokee National Forest in Tellico Plains, TN, with the Nantahala National Forest in Robbinsville, NC. While we were enjoying the scenic ride it seemed that most of America was also enjoying "where the mountains kiss the sky..." Tee shirts advertise "Ride me if you dare" in most of the shops along the route. While I heard locals say there have been 9 motorcycle deaths on the 11 mile road in 2009, there are exactly 318 curves in the 11 mile road that begins at Deals Gap along U.S. Highway 129. There is a 120 mile loop which can be traveled in one day allowing time for scenic stops, meals and fuel; however you can add another 15 miles to include Hellbender 28, near scenic Twenty-mile Falls. The roads are nice with plenty of places to stop (in the event you get motion sickness). Did I fail to mention we were NOT on motorcycles...but everyone else seemed to be.

Graham County is North Carolina's last frontier. Inhabited by Cherokee Indians well into the 1800s it was one of the most remote areas of the state until it became a county in 1872. In 1838 the Cherokee were driven off their land by the U.S.Army and forced to travel the infamous "Trail of Tears" to reservations in Oklahoma. Gold mining changed the face of the land the Cherokee had conserved and lived with in harmony for over 300 years. When we traveled to the Indian Boundary Recreation Area in the Cherokee National Park I could just imagine what a unique life the Cherokee's must have enjoyed with the abundant lakes, creeks, and pristine forests.

RV and I were in Tellico Plains to attend our first Tiffin RV Network Rally at the KOA Campground. However, our side trips were something we'll never forget. Hopefully, we'll return another year about this time. We always enjoyed the natural beauty of Coastal Georgia when we lived in St. Simons Island, GA, and never wanted to take the natural beauty for granted....well, that is exactly how we felt in the Cherahala Skyway. Every turn is an "ooh" and an "ah" moment, and pictures definitely don't do justice to God's handiwork.