It’s not easy to make a short list of the best motorcycle rides in East Tennessee, but we were brave enough to try it. We scoured the Eastern state for wicked twisties, jaw-dropping scenery, and rest stops you won’t want to miss out on.
That means your job is just to read this list, choose your favorite routes, and go out and ride!
Our top 8 Motorcycle Rides in Tennessee
These are the great rides in Tennessee that we know you will love – in no particular order.
The Foothills Parkway is a good motorcycle ride to exhibit the diversity of Tennessee’s landscape and how it translates to quality roads. The trip from Walland to Chilhowee is just a brief 17-mile trip, but it features significant elevation change, sweeping turns, and panoramic views of the pristine nature the ride is named after. Use this ride as a day-starter or a picnic trip with friends, and enjoy what the land has to offer.
One of the most famous rides in all of America, the Dragon boasts 318 curves over 11 miles. The tight turns can provide ample challenge to all levels of skill, though we recommend starting cautiously and taking in the scenery as you go. Surrounded by the Great Smoky Mountains and the Cherokee National Forest, the vast nature combined with the quality of road and rider culture will make this into an experience you’ll never forget.
For a true taste of Southern Americana, we recommend riding the Parkway. A testament to the character of the nature and people of Tennessee, this ride shows off inspiring natural features with the perfect complement of manmade stops along the way. Find a picnic table at a rest stop and look out over the multiple breathtaking vistas. Because this is a slower, sweeping ride, it is the type of trip where you may want to pop into one of the camping and lodging sites for a night if you or your group wants to split up the adventure and see the surrounding areas.
A bit out of the way, this ride is in the western part of Smoky Mountain National Park. The main entrance to get towards Cades Cove is near Gatlinburg on the 441, and there will be signs for the motorcycle road a few miles into the park. From there, it’s time to enjoy this 11-mile loop that shows off the majesty of Tennessee’s national park wildlife. The well-maintained road follows the contour of rivers and runs under natural rock tunnels, and has plenty to offer riders of every skill level.
Part of the Tellico Plains group of rides, you’ll find the Tennessee Overhill to contain some unbelievable excursions. You can take the Copperhill to Benton trail, which is a 31 mile ride that is highlighted by historical locations such as Reliance or the Ocoee River Gorge. Similarly, you can take a side trip to the Appalachia Powerhouse, a trip that features rugged roads with powerful curves that will have you appreciating the grandeur of the Tennessee backcountry. There’s so much to do in the Tennessee Overhill that we recommend hopping on your bike with a loose plan and seeing what you can see with the time you have.
This ride contains ‘The Missing Link’, which was a 1.5 mile stretch that had not been properly developed until recently. Now, with the whole road intact, this 14 mile scenic jaunt is highly recommended as you get a birds-eye view of the valley. Tennessee has some great connectivity in its rides, as this one will feed into either Chillowee or the Dragon. What makes these connected roads so amazing is that the landscape and wildlife change so quickly from ride to ride. If that means you have to try them all, then so be it!
This US-441 route is the lowest pass that runs through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. At an elevation of over 5,000 feet, it is still great for a quick climb into the forest where you can get lost in the trees and tunnels. The diversity in fir, pine, and spruce trees makes for extremely fresh air and gorgeous scenery, and there are some great pull-off spots to take a picnic or drink break with a view of the forest below. As you finish winding through this 34-mile moderate course, you can contemplate which of the Smoky Mountain routes you want to add on to your trip, as they are all close in proximity.
One of our favorite Smoky Mountain runs is to take the TN-32 from Cosby all the way to the state line. While this is a more technically challenging route, it is only 14 miles, so you can take it at your preferred speed in order to make it manageable. The route gets a bit unkempt as you approach the North Carolina border, but this can be a fun pseudo off-roading experience, especially for the last couple miles. Given its difficulty and remote location, there won’t be a ton of cross traffic, so this is a great solo ride or group trip for adventurous bikers.
The Tennessee motorcycle community works hard to make these roads and routes some of the finest in the country. The scenery and history blend together to create an experience that will leave you wanting more. As always, we encourage you to try and make it to as many of these Tennessee motorcycle mainstays as possible.
Get on the Road with Law Tigers
Part of being able to adventure confidently is the knowledge that you have the Law Tigers at your side. Riding is in our blood, and our experienced legal representatives are proud to be active members of the motorcycle community.
This allows us to protect you in whatever situation that might come up, and provide resources to keep you confident while on the road. Find out more and sign up for a free rider benefit card today so you can have the Law Tigers team alongside you.