Along US-129

As a 'You can get there from here' route, US-129 from Chiefland, Florida to Knoxville, Tennessee is a decent option for all riders. For most of the way it's a two lane excursion through rural areas with some nice scenery.

One particular section near the northern end is known as 'The Tail of The Dragon.' It's become a Mecca for touring riders, and a deadly destination for some.

 

 

 

 


  
Dist:
& Est Time:
94 Miles
1.7 Hours
State Map
& Segments:
Link to Florida DOT
TARGET DOT Map
Major Crossroads

From Chiefland, FL to Statenville, GA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


  
Dist:
& Est Time:
360 Miles
6,5 Hours
State Map
& Segments:
Link to GA DOT
TARGET DOT Map
Major Crossroads

From Statenville, GA to Blairsville, GA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


  
Dist:
& Est Time:
72 Miles
1.3 Hours
State Map
& Segments:
Link to NC DOT
NC DOT Map
Major Crossroads

From Blairsville, GA to Tapoco, NC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


  
Dist:
& Est Time:
57 Miles
1.6 Hours
State Map
& Segments:
Link to TN DOT
TN DOT Map
Major Crossroads

From Tapoco, NC to Knoxville, TN

The Dragon
The last few miles of Route 129 in North Carolina and the first first miles within Tennessee is most simply described as challenging. The great scenery and wide twisty roadway gives way for eleven miles to an over-crowded test of skills known "The Tail of The Dragon." Of course, there is an element of tourism hyperbole that creates the mystique of "The Dragon," but it really is a fun road that WILL test the riders ability to properly control the motorcycle through narrow hairpin turns, abrupt dips, slanted pavements, and every conceivable hazard of a paved and congested mountain road.

This is not a road for novice riders, and even skilled riders that have not kept up their skills must be careful. There are accidents here every day, most end up with some pieces and parts of your bike eligible for placement on the 'Tree of Shame.' A fair number of riders are flown to a trauma center in Knoxville or Asheville every day.

There are two or three pieces of good advice to heed and keep in mind; 1) stay away from the centerline, and 2) stay focused on riding.

It's easy to bust over the centerline if you miss the entry point of your turn by even a couple of inches, especially if you are entering a bit fast and you tap the brake - most of us do it at least a couple of times along this stretch of Route 129. That's why it is so important to stay focused on riding technique. Remember to look through the turn - putting your head down is a sure way to miss the best entry for the next turn. And the next turn is RIGHT NOW!

Most riders will probably stop at Deal's Gap to get a souvenir, maybe a snack, or some fuel. ALL are expensive here. Expect to pay at least fifty cents a gallon more than in the towns on either side of this section.

There are two turn out areas at the north end of The Dragon. One overlooks Caldwerwood dam and lake and the other is more of a turn around for trucks that finally heed the warning not to continue. Both seem to attract a lot of riders that want to take a photo of each other before turning around to ride the section a second time.

North to Marsyville and Knoxville
It's pretty obvious when The Dragon ends, the extreme turns and hairpins give way to great sweepers and some nice views of Chilhowee Lake and other man-made lakes formed by the various TVA dams. There's a fuel and convenience store in Tallassee, which is also the location of the EMS landing zone for helicopters flying out the wounded from The Dragon. The Route is known locally as Calerwood Highway and is a pretty typical Eastern Tennessee rural road until in joins with US-411 into Maryville, where it loops to the west of town as the Alcoa Highway. The Alcoa Highway is a four lane divided route that ends in Knoxville at I-40.