Two Great Dual Sport/Jeep Roads in the Cherokee
National Forest of East Tennessee
This ride is suitable for adventurous intermediate riders on medium dual sports and experienced riders on large duals. We rode our KLX250s, but would have had no problem on our KLR650s or even on the unloaded CaporNord. A friend road one of our KTMs. For the most part the route is easy. In a couple of places there was deep, fresh gravel which should pack down in a few weeks. The road narrowed and became steeper in one section, but did not present any problem for us. The intermediate rating is due to several steep hair pin curves on gravel requiring you to use first gear, rear brake, clutch, and throttle all at the same time.
We began this route in Green Cove which is located on Tellico River Road thirteen miles east of the Cherohala Skyway (TN165). Follow the signs to Bald River Falls and once on Tellico River Road just keep following the scenic Tellico River until you pass through the small fishing village of Green Cove. Continue another 3/4 mile and take the right turn onto Smith Field Road.
Smith Field Road (FR126) is a well maintained Forest Service gravel road that climbs from 2027 feet at Tellico River to a little over 2500 feet before levelling off. We took a right onto Green Cove Lake Road and found the small scenic lake a little more than half a mile distant.
Backtracking to Smith Field Road we continued for some three miles along the Bald River before arriving at a remote Forest Service campground at Holly Flats. Bald River along this section is really just a creek. It's hard to imagine how it turns into a beautiful waterfall just a few miles distant. A trail (FT88) follows the river from here to the Falls, about 3 miles.
From here, at an elevation of 1850 feet, the road begins to climb and narrow. It is more winding and not as well maintained as the road we have been on. In the next two miles the elevation increases to 2747 at Basin Gap.
At Basin Gap we take the left and ride up to Waucheesi Mountain Lookout Tower. The tower is no more, but the top at 3692 feet bristles with radio antenas and offers some spectacular views of the area. This road is very passable but not one for amatuers. It is winding, moderately steep and a little rocky in spots. We met two guys on the top looking for a geocache which we never found. The wrap-around view is at the top of this page. There is supposed to be a GeoCache here, but we couldn't find it.
Backtracking to the main road we continue west on a long downhill section with a couple of tricky gravel twisties. We eventually meet FR384 which is a high speed gravel downhill all the way back to Tellico River Road. We take a right on paved Tellico Rivier Road and then a quick left on FR35 which takes us up to the Cherohala Skyway. You might want to take a gander at Bald River Falls before heading over to the Cherohala. Just keep goin a ways on Tellico River Road.
DOUBLE CAMP CREEK
From the Cherohala we turned into FR345 heading into the Citico Creek Wilderness Area. We entered Indain Boundary Lake to check-out the area and were impressed with the views and facilities.
Indian Boundary Lake is a beautiful mountain lake with one of the best Forest Service Campgrounds we have seen. You can reserve sites here and even though there are a lot of sites it might pay to have reservations. Several of the best sites are right on the water.
Backtracking we headed north on gravel FR35 and within a mile or two found a much more primative Forest Service camping area located right on the Citico Creek. All of the camping areas we saw on this day of riding were empty, but it is early in the season and a week-day. Peak times for crowds are summer week-ends and hunting season. We enjoyed having everything to ourselves for the entire day.
Another mile or so and we took a right on Doublecamp Creek Road elevation 1405 feet (FR59). This climbing gravel and rock road is one of the most scenic in the area as it winds 6.3 miles along side of Doublecamp Creek to Farr Gap at 2826 feet. There are numerous small waterfalls and rushing rapids on this route. It is a great place to chill in the heat of the summer. At Farr Gap a connecting ridge road takes you westward to the downhill on Cold Spring Road. From the old site of the Cold Spring Lookout Tower at 3155 feet back down to Citico Creek Road at 1230 feet is 6.7 miles of pure gravel fun.
We were running out of time, so we headed back to the Cherohala Skyway. To continue on an even longer ride you could turn right on Citico Creek Road and follow the creek for another 11 miles to Citico Beach on the Little Tennessee River.
For exploring all of these back roads we highly recommend that you have several other riders with you. It is desolate at times. On our ride we only encountered several other vehicles during the entire ride and none at all on the Doublecamp/Cold Spring loop. You should also have maps of the entire area, a cell phone, and GPS would help. All vehicles must be street legal and licensed. We do not recommend these roads in hunting season. It is crowded with hunters and dogs.