Joe Brown Highway
This full day loop will take you on a mile high mountain road deep in the wilderness, close to a beautiful waterfall, a twisty two-lane back road, across a dam on a scenic lake, and wind around a back country road with rural views.
Beginning in Robbinsville, North Carolina take NC 143 to the Cherohala Skyway ten miles from town, Be sure to stop and gas-up at the motorcycle friendly Thunder Mountain Deli. It’s the last fuel for 50 miles. You might want to have Candy fix you one of her great sandwiches for a roadside picnic later on in the day. There will be plenty of places for a secluded rest stop along this route.
Crossing the Cherohala will take you across elevation over 5000 feet so bring along some warmsies just in case. This 45 mile long highway has little evidence of civilization other than pull-offs and a couple of restroom stops. Be sure to pull over every now and then and take a few picts.
Crossing into Tennessee the route changes to TN 165 and begins a long descent into Tellico Plains. You’ll pass the entrance to Indian Boundary Waters, a hidden campground and jump-off for some great dual sport gravel riding in Citico Creek Wilderness Area.
At mile marker 9 you can take FR 35 over to River Road and hang a left to see Bald River Falls right from you motorcycle seat. There is a trail leading to the top, but be extremely careful here. Backtracking to TN 165 you’ll take a left and head into Tellico Plains.
Be sure to see the Historic Downtown and see Mike at Tellico Motorcycle Outfitters and his wife Cherie across the street at the ice cream store. A couple good places to eat include Tellico Kats Deli on the Cherohala Skyway just before town, and the Tellico Grains Bakery located in Town Square both places have healthy and luscious sandwiches. The Cherohala Welcome Center back on TN 165 is a good place to find souvenirs and local information.
Taking a left onto TN 68 will lead you out of town and you will soon be in some great twisties. Watch out on a couple of these tricky turns or you’ll be out in a field with the cattle.
After crossing the Hiawassee River and going under the old railway trestle you’ll pass through the crossroads town of Farner and come to the intersection of TN 123. Hang a left, cross the state line back into North Carolina on NC 294 and make a quick stop at Fields of the Wood to see a large hillside with the Ten Commandments prominently displayed. Heading east on NC 294 you’ll take a left onto SR 1314 and soon come to Hiawassee Dam. Cross the dam and pull into the rest area, a great place to have you picnic lunch and take in the scenery.
Back on the road continue on SR 1314 northward and hang a right onto Joe Brown Highway (SR 1326). This rural road winds through the hills and passes many homesteads and farms all the way into Murphy where you’ll find another historic downtown with some good country shopping and the old Hen Theater. After passing through town take US 19/74 north. You can rest a little now on the 4-lane divided highway that passes through the beautiful Andrews/Valleytown flatlands rimmed with mountain ridges. Watch for the LEOs here with radar.
Back on the two lane hang a left onto US 129 returning to Robbinsville. This begins with a great couple of twisty miles. Note the coves on you left with old leveled roadbed that used to be the highway. Too bad the straightened this road out.
ROUTE MILEAGE: 140 miles not including detours.
RIDING TIME: 4.5 hours not including stops.
DIFFICULTY: Moderate, all paved roads with most in good and some in average condition.