best and fastest route is I-75, I-575, Route 5,
Route 87, 60 North to Mineral Bluff, Spar 60 North
into North Carolina, 64 into Murphy, 19 & 129 North
past Andrews, 129 to Robbinsville
THE GOOD AND THE BAD: Most of this route is scenic and four-lane. Traffic can be heavy on I-40, but it thins out once you get on 74 and 23. Highway 28 and 143 are two lane roads in fairly good condition except for the ten-mile construction zone. The most scenic place is at Stecoah Gap where the Appalachian Trail crosses 143. The altitude is only 3600 feet, but the view of Stecoah Valley is magnificent.
TOTAL DISTANCE FROM ASHEVILLE: 100 miles
Directions From Knoxville
FROM KNOXVILLE: There are several options from which to choose. These options are listed below with the descriptions to help you decide which way you would prefer.
OPTION 1: Route taking you through the Tail of the Dragon, world famous touring road for motorcycles and sports cars. Take 129 South from I-40 in Knoxville (follow signs to the airport). You will bear to the right staying on 129 just past the airport. Highway 411 will join 129 near Maryville. Continue south on 129/411. Turn left on 129. Continue on 129 through countryside, along the Little Tennessee River and then begin climbing to the North Carolina border on 129 aka Tail of the Dragon. You will enter North Carolina at Deal's Gap, pass the Cheoah Dam, and drive along the Cheoah River.
OPTION 1, THE GOOD AND THE BAD: You will encounter some traffic along 129 until you reach the 129 turn-off from 411. Traffic then becomes minimal. The drive from there to the Robbinsville is scenic. The Tail of the Dragon is a two lane, paved road in good condition. There are some 130 sharp curves in 11 miles - the reason it is popular with motorcycles and sports cars. During the weekdays you will probably not see more than a few vehicles along these 11 miles. On the weekends traffic increases and there is the possibility of encountering motorcycles traveling at high speeds. The best defense is to slow down and let them pass. This section of the road is isolated and there are no facilities or gas for some distance.
TOTAL DISTANCE FROM
KNOXVILLE: 88 miles
OPTION 2: Route taking you over the Cherohala Skyway. Take 129 South from I-40 in Knoxville (follow signs to the airport). You will bear to the right staying on 129 just past the airport. Highway 411 will join 129 near Maryville. Continue south on 129/411. Turn south onto 360 at Vonore. Continue south on 360 to 165 near Tellico Plains. Turn east onto 165. Highway 165 is scenic following the Tellico River for a while. As you enter the Cherohala Skyway the road becomes more mountainous and there are some great views as you near the higher elevations. There are many parking areas for you to stop and take pictures. After crossing the summit it is all downhill to Robbinsville - some 12 miles. Try not to ride your brakes or they will overheat. Put the vehicle in a lower gear and just use the brakes sporadically.
OPTION 2, THE GOOD AND THE BAD: You will encounter some traffic along 129/411 until you reach the 360 turn-off from 411. Traffic then becomes minimal. The drive from there to the Robbinsville is scenic. The Cherohala Skyway is a two lane, paved road in good condition with a 45 mph speed limit. It crosses some of the highest mountains in the area. During the weekdays you will probably not see more than a few vehicles. On the weekends traffic increases slightly. The Cherohala Skyway is isolated and there are no facilities or gas between Tellico Plains and Robbinsville.
TOTAL DISTANCE FROM
KNOXVILLE: 114 miles