Author Topic: Any Route Recommendations from Nasheville to NC?  (Read 8937 times)

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Offline AAronovitz

Any Route Recommendations from Nasheville to NC?
« on: April 15, 2019, 04:41:37 pm »
I'm wondering if any cyclists experienced with Tennessee have recommended west-east routes. I'm looking to bike from Houston to Raleigh, NC this summer and I'd really like to see eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina. I plan on taking the Southern Tier from Houston and connect to the Natchez Trace to the Nasheville area. Once in central Tennessee I'd like to head due east and eventually connect to the NC Mountains to Sea route. Has anyone done anything similar or have some recommendations to share about possible west-east routes in eastern Tennessee?

Thank you!

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Any Route Recommendations from Nasheville to NC?
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2019, 11:32:59 am »
This could be a FAQ.

I think there’s a route from Nashville (Brentwood?) that goes straight into Robbinsville, NC, but I’ll have to dig through my files on a different computer to see if I can find it.  Until then, here’s a potential route through Chattanooga.  I’ve ridden and/or driven perhaps 80-90% of these roads, and while they’re not always comfortable, I think most of the route is reasonably safe.  Note I would NOT! recommend taking 64/74 from Cleveland to Murphy.  Somebody did a trip report going that way (in Adventure Cycling, IIRC), but I regard cycling a dozen miles through the Ocoee gorge as pretty close to suicidal.

Anyhow, try starting with the Leiper’s Fork permanent.  Sorry, while Nashville is supposed to have a good bike route, I don't know a way across town, so my suggestion starts south of there.  Get off the Natchez Trace at Leiper’s Fork, coast down the hill to the east a quarter mile, and pick up the route:

Somewhere around Christiana, pick up the Sewanee 300k:

From Sewanee to Chattanooga, you’ve got a few options.  First, take 41A a few miles out of town, then drop down to South Pittsburg on TN 156, cross the Tennessee River and go up to Haletown, then follow US 41 into Chattanooga.  There’s some busy traffic for 2-3 miles on the south side of the river coming out of South Pittsburg.  The last 4-5 miles going over the foot of Lookout Mtn. has stead traffic (especially at rush hour or when there’s a wreck on the interstate), but they’ll usually give a cyclist the right-most of four (narrow) lanes.  Second, take 41A to Monteagle, then pick up 41 and follow it into Chattanooga.  There’s a fair bit of traffic through Jasper, but it’s mostly got a good shoulder and is fairly straight.  Third, go up through Monteagle and Tracy City to Gruetli-Lager, then drop down to Whitwell, go over to Powell’s Crossroads, then over Suck Creek Mountain on TN 27 to US 127.  This is perhaps the quietest road route into Chattanooga.  If you’re interested, I can give you some cues to get from Dayton Blvd. into downtown.

From Chattanooga, you could take the proposed USBR 21 up to Madisonville or Vonore:

From Madisonville, take 68 to Tellico Plains, then take the Cherohala Skyway and follow NC 143 to Robbinsville.  If you want to go further into NC, I’d suggest going over the mountain to Almond (along 143?).  I haven’t been that way, but the NC 28 route from Fontana Dam to Almond is a typical mountain road: narrow, winding, limited sight distance, and too much traffic for me to be comfortable.  From there you’ve got a couple miles on the racetrack (19/74) shoulder to Bryson City, and 19 from there to Cherokee is narrow, winding, lightly trafficked, and mostly slow traffic.  In Cherokee you can pick up the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Alternatively, go northeast from Madisonville to Vonore, cross the Little Tennessee River, and take TN 72 to US 129, then enjoy the Tail of the Dragon into Robbinsville.  Here, you could take NC 28 into Almond, but see my warning above.  No camping on 129, while there are a couple of campgrounds along the Cherohala.

Offline AAronovitz

Re: Any Route Recommendations from Nasheville to NC?
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2019, 03:40:31 pm »
Wow, Pat. Thank you very much for your detailed response. That gives me plenty to look over and I appreciate the route links. Just as useful, is your aversion to the 64/74 from Cleveland to Murphy! I'll probably stay in Tennessee a bit longer to the northeast following along the proposed USBR 21 you shared.

I had previously found some maps from TDOT with the "bike level of service" on them which shows 64 from Lawrence through Franklin being favorable for cycling, but I don't know how up-to-date those are. I also came across a TDOT plan from 2005 that proposed an east-west state bicycle route along 64 in the same region (links below). I haven't come across any recent materials so I'm assuming it has been scrapped.

Grateful for your shared routes and experience, you've guided me in the right direction.
(page 6-2 and 6-3 show the proposed "Southern Rambler" along 64)

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Any Route Recommendations from Nasheville to NC?
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2019, 09:54:06 am »
Alexander, you're very welcome!  As I noted, this gets asked once or twice a year, so I plan to re-use my answer.  :)

Re: U.S. 64, Tennessee has been widening and occasionally re-routing it for 20 years or so.  Parts of it are now 4 lane divided highway (but with nice shoulders) and parts of it are 2 lanes with shoulders.  The old route was two lanes, no shoulders, and more winding than you might expect from a "flat" route.  I honestly don't know if they've finished the re-build in central Tennessee.  The official route now joins I-24 over the Cumberland Plateau at Monteagle, so you'll want to take the old road from Winchester up to Sewanee (or the back road on the route I linked previously).  Ditto going east out of Chattanooga on I-75, except the old road (11/64) gets a lot of traffic, so I was glad to find the suggested alternative.  Also, from outside Cleveland to U.S. 411, that road was four-laned a long time ago, but they didn't bother adding shoulders.  From 411 east it drops to two lanes through the gorge, then it's four laned to the N.C. line and halfway decent.  Roller coaster without shoulders from Tennessee into Murphy -- brr!

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Any Route Recommendations from Nasheville to NC?
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2019, 09:55:40 am »
P.s.  Forgot to mention, if you get off the Trace at U.S. 64, you'll missed the hilliest (and most scenic) part of the trail.