Cool Motorcycle Roads
of the
South Eastern U.S.

129 - The Dragons Tail

Map - Dragons Tail

This truly is the most incredible road I've survived on my motorcycle. I use the word survive quite justly. The Dragons tail starts in North Carolina at the convergence of US129 & NC28 and snakes it's way thru 318 hairpin turns crammed into 11 miles, skirting the southwestern edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and ending in Tennessee where the Little Tennessee River runs into Chilhowee Lake.

At the head of this road sits the Crossroads of Time, which consists of a motel, deli, gas, motorcycle club and campground and road warrior gathering point. Inside you can purchase Dragons Tail T-shirts that say "I survived the Dragons Tail", "I slayed the Dragon" and other appropriate sayings. The owners are very friendly and welcome motorcyclists. I've stayed at the motel a few times and have met riders from all over the country who have come to slay the Dragon.

Turning right out of the parking lot at The Crossroads of Time and heading up hill will take you into about a mile of nice, predictable S-turns. When you get to Deals Gap at the N.C./Tennessee border is when things start to get wild. The road really is like a dragons tails, whipping back and forth, keeping you on your toes, focusing your concentration. But it's also a well design road. The turns are nicely banked and the visibility isn't too bad. The worst thing about this road is getting behind somebody in a truck, camper or pulling a boat. Pass when you can, there aren't many places you can pass and anything but a motorcycle is going to crawl on this road.

About 1/3rd of the way thru you pass the end of Parsons Branch road, a one-way dirt/gravel road coming from Cades Cove. It's a good place to stop and take a break. Walking up Parsons branch affords some beautiful mountain stream scenery.

After passing Parsons Branch your really in the thick of it. After awhile you'll wonder if it's really only 11 miles.
The road straightens out for awhile as it travels along a mountain ridge coming out at an overlook parking area. To the left and way down is Calderwood lake and dam. Don't turn around yet, there's still more. Continuing on down the mountain are more great curves.

When you get to the bottom and see Chillohwee Lake you're through and you've slain the Dragon!
Continuing on US129 about 4 miles takes you to the Foothills Parkway on the right. Going straight will take you out of the mountains and eventually to Maryville.

Warning: This is the kind of road I dream about, it's also a road with many casualties. There are several bad wrecks each year on this road, I've witnessed or seen the recovery operations for a few. Just be careful and don't get too confident or the Dragon will get you.

The Dragons Tail starts at The Crossroads of Time, 9 miles west-by-northwest of Fontana Lake, 18 miles northwest of Robbinsville, 35 miles south of Maryville. From Atlanta to the Crossroads - 179 miles.

The Crossroads of Time. P.O. Box 58, Tapoco, NC 28780. (704) 498-2231

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