Destination Routes Collection

Includes parks and points of interest.
Note: These routes are available for STAR attendees only-
please do not share them with others. 

Note: To download GPX & ZIP files, right-click or control-click the links. Otherwise you may get a 404 error.

(Do not use ZIP versions if there are last minute route changes- individual routes will be most up-to-date)
Note: To download ZIP files, right-click or control-click the links. Otherwise you may get a 404 error. 

All Road Routes GPX format

Destination Routes:

Navigation difficulty: AVERAGE
Distance: 184 - 285 miles
Lunch Stop: Tellico Plains Bakery Restaurant, Tellico Plains, TN, other choices nearby.
Direction from STAR HQ: S, CLOCKWISE
Comments: Get out of Knoxville fast on I-140, aka Pellissippi Parkway. Ride it all the way to the end at Maryville Pike (SR33). Follow the route past Sam Houston School House. Stop if you have the time and interest. Continue the route along the Little River to Walland, cross over to US321, and take the Foothills Parkway southwest until it intersects with US129. Turn left. In just a few miles you are now on the “Dragon” or “Tail of the Dragon” and headed toward Deals Gap. This may be the most famous road in the USA. Stay in your lane and out of the way of faster bikes. Too many people treat this stretch of road like a racetrack, and many pay an extreme penalty. Don’t be one of them and don’t let one of them take you out.

Upon reaching North Carolina and the Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort, stop and stretch your legs. They serve food in the restaurant and have gasoline if you need it. You have a choice to make. There are four alternative routes taking you to Santeetlah Gap and the start of the Cherohala Skyway:

Option 1: The shortest way is to continue on US129 crossing the river at the bottom of Cheoah Dam. This dam was featured in the 1993 movie The Fugitive. Continue until you turn off onto Joyce Kilmer Rd and follow it (don’t miss the right turn across the bridge) along Lake Santeetlah to Horse Cove and Joyce Kilmer Slickrock Wilderness (very sketchy pavement). Turn left and Santeetlah Gap is just a short distance.
Option 2: A slightly longer way follows the same road as above route; it just doesn’t make the turn across the bridge and takes you to Santeetlah Dam. Continue the route back to US129 and then follow it until you intersect SR143. This will take you to Santeetlah Gap.
Option 3: A longer version takes SR28 away from Deals Gap. It offers the opportunity to visit Fontana Dam. Once past Fontana Dam you will turn onto SR143, go across Stecoah Gap and on to Robbinsville. If you’ve waited for lunch, Lynn’s Place is the place to refuel your body. Continue on SR143 to Santeetlah Gap.
Option 4: Finally, the longest version takes SR28 all the way to Franklin. There are numerous restaurants there and a few are listed in the route. It would be wise to purchase fuel there if you haven’t already. The return from Franklin takes you across Wayah Gap Road. These are the most curves you’ll ride on this entire long day. Wayah Gap Road ends at the put-in for Nantahala rafters. Turn left on US19/74 and ride up and out of the Nantahala Gorge to turn right on US129 which will take you to Robbinsville and Santeetlah Gap.

Now you begin the Cherohala Skyway. It climbs up to over 5000 feet in elevation and has tremendous views. Temperatures will drop. The curves are gentle and you can generate some speed. Think twice about that. Park Rangers patrol this road and federal citations are costly. Also, there is no fuel on the Cherohala until you get to Tellico Plains.

Optional Detour: For those that cannot get enough, there is a detour to Bald River Falls. There is a narrow short cut over to River Road. After viewing Bald River Falls, return to the Skyway and continue into Tellico Plains.

There are numerous restaurants in Tellico Plains. For cheap fare try Tellico Beach. Tellico Bakery is terrific for sandwiches and baked goods. The Exxon station is the center of the universe for motorcyclists going both ways on the Cherohala. Avail yourself if fuel is needed.

The trip back to Knoxville is a series of nice quiet backroads, part of which run along the east coast of the Tellico Reservoir. The shortest version of this route will only take about 5 to 6 hours and is 184 miles. The longer version to Franklin is 285 miles and will take all day. 

Navigation difficulty: AVERAGE to COMPLEX
Distance: 233 miles
Lunch Stop: RM Brooks General Store & Restaurant, Rugby, TN (Closed Sunday & Wednesday)
Direction from STAR HQ: NW, CLOCKWISE
Comments: This loop takes in the Devils Triangle, much of the eastern Cumberland Plateau, and the Norris Dam. It begins by avoiding Oak Ridge except for the waterfront. This is a world class rowing facility. Afterwards you will be taking the road through Frost Bottom with the mountains towering over you. At the intersection with SR116 you turn left and start your climb over Graves Gap and descend the other side. At the New River the road makes an abrupt change of direction and continues through closed mining facilities and then up and over the mountain.
At the base of the mountain lies Brushy Mountain Prison. It’s closed now, although tours are available. There’s even a restaurant (check the hours before you go). This maximum security prison housed many felons over its 100+ year history, including James Earl Ray.

After the prison this route takes you on backroads to a local swimming hole at the base of Potters Falls. Leaving there takes you into downtown Wartburg and past the Morgan County Jail and Morgan County Courthouse. Take old 27 out of town and then Montgomery Road across the Emory River eventually reuniting with SR62. After Lancing you’ll turn north on Rome Road and go through Deer Lodge. Continue with the route until you cross SR52. RM Brooks General Store will be right in front of you on the old road through Rugby. The store is now a restaurant, CLOSED ON SUNDAY & WEDNESDAY, and on the National Register of Historic Places. Great baloney sandwich and other good eats, cheap.

Leaving RM Brooks on the loop takes you through Rugby. Rugby was founded in 1880 as an experiment for the “second sons” of English noblemen, offering them a chance to own land. The Victorian architecture and picturesque setting have since made it a popular tourist attraction. The town is also on the National Register of Historic Places. Stop at the visitors’ center and learn a bit about it.,_Tennessee

Leaving Rugby, you are presented with a choice. You can go west on SR52 to follow the Honey Creek alternative route. It has 6.5 miles of smooth, hard-packed gravel and goes to a fabulous overlook of the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River Gorge. It loops back into the route at its intersection with US27.

The route turns east onto SR63 going through Huntsville, the home of the late statesman Howard H Baker. Continue until the route turns off onto old 63 and slow down. This fine but nearly abandoned road travels along Cove Creek to Caryville. You could get on the interstate here, but don’t. SR116 parallels the slab to Rocky Top (aka Lake City). Here, you will turn onto US441 and cross Norris Dam. Be sure and stop at the overlook before descending to the dam to see the Clinch River pouring out of Norris Dam. Norris Dam was the first one constructed by TVA in 1936.
Continue following the route as it brings you back to Knoxville on bucolic backroads. 

Navigation difficulty: AVERAGE
Distance: 298 miles
Lunch Stop: Whistle Stop Pizzeria & More, Baxter, TN, Rock Island Market, Rock Island, TN, Butter Dish Restaurant, Pikeville, TN
Comments: This ride takes you through Oak Ridge and continues on SR62 across the Cumberland Plateau. There is a side trip at Wartburg to see Potters Falls, a local swimming hole and our first falls. After passing through Monterey, you will turn onto Woodcliff Road and descend down Brotherton Mountain to Algood. From there a series of backroads will deliver you to Cummins Falls State Park. You will have to park and walk approximately a quarter mile to the overlook to see the falls. The descent into the gorge is a 3 mile roundtrip hike and quite strenuous. It’s better to save oneself for the other walks to see more falls later in the day.

After leaving Cummins Falls the route takes you into Baxter for lunch at the Whistle Stop Café. If you aren’t ready to eat stay on SR56 until you cross under I-40. The route will take you to SR135 where you’ll soon reach Burgess Falls State Park. Again, park your bike and walk the trail to the falls. There are several falls to see along the trail culminating in the 130 foot tall Burgess Falls.

After leaving Burgess Falls you will travel south for about 18 miles to Twin Falls in Rock Island State Park. Ride to the end of the road and park. You can see these falls from the parking lot or you can walk down into the river gorge. These falls are unusual in that the water comes from the Collins River adjacent to the escarpment and flows through rock to exit in numerous places and drop into the Caney Fork River’s gorge. These falls didn’t exist until the rivers were dammed by the Great Falls Dam. The Rock Island Market serves food and gasoline if you need either.

Next the route takes you down to SR30 which will take you to Spencer. Here you will turn south and head into Fall Creek Falls State Park. The scenic loop is one-way and includes a short walk to Fall Creek Falls, the highest one east of the Mississippi. There are other sights to see on the loop as well, but it may be getting late or you may be hungry. The park’s restaurant is newly remodeled and ready to serve you.

Complete the route through the park and rejoin SR30 to head home. The road will descend into the Sequatchie Valley, go through Pikeville (gas or food available), and then climb Waldens Ridge before descending into Dayton. Dayton was the site of the Scopes Trial in 1925 and you can visit the courthouse where it happened.

From Dayton the route takes you across Watts Bar Dam and then along River Road to Kingston where you pick up US70 and head back to Knoxville.  

Navigation difficulty: SIMPLE
Distance: 136 miles
Lunch Stop: None
Comments: Our shortest loop begins with getting out of town fast on I-140 aka Pellissippi Parkway. After crossing the Tennessee River, exit at Topside Road. Follow the route until you are on US129. Fuel is not available on the parkway so gas up at Fast Lap Market if necessary. This is not the section known as the “Dragon”, but it’s really scenic along the lake. Turn onto the Foothills Parkway and enjoy. It climbs up onto Chilhowee Mountain and runs for 18 miles to Walland. The parkway used to end here, but now continues 14 more miles to Wears Valley and the newer section is superb.

Be sure to stop at the overlooks to see a great view of Townsend and also look at the construction of the road. They basically built viaducts to avoid excavating so much out of the mountain. It’s truly an engineering feat.

Gasoline is available in Wears Valley. The drive through Wears Valley can be heavily trafficked by tourists in the summer months but relief is coming. Turn off at Russie Gap Rd and follow the route to US441/411 to avoid Pigeon Forge and Sevierville. The remainder of the ride back to west Knoxville is less rural but avoids the worst of the urban congestion.  

Navigation difficulty: SIMPLE
Distance: 368 miles
Lunch Stop: Lots of dining choices at Lynchburg, TN, town square
Direction from STAR HQ: SW, CLOCKWISE
Comments: This ride is more about the destination than the ride. It follows more highways and fewer bucolic backroads. If you plan to tour Jack Daniels use this link for information:

You will leave Knoxville and travel along Ft Loudon Lake to Lenoir City, cross the Tennessee River into Loudon and then traverse the valley until you reconnect with the river along Watts Bar Lake. After crossing the river at Watts Bar Dam you will continue to Dayton and soon start climbing up onto the plateau. Running southwest along Waldens Ridge you will connect with SR111. It descends into the Sequatchie Valley with spectacular views on the way down. The route goes through Dunlap and then climbs out of the valley and onto the southern Cumberland Plateau. You will go through the village of Gruetli-Laager and then descend off the plateau to Pelham. From there it’s primarily farm country the rest of the way to Lynchburg.

In Lynchburg you can tour the distillery and shop or eat on the square. There are outlet stores there including one for Diamond Gusset jeans. Numerous restaurants are available.

Returning will be less interesting. The route runs primarily on state highways. SR30 is somewhat engaging as it leaves Spencer and descends into and out of a gulf prior to reaching an entry to Fall Creek Falls. The next many miles are spent crossing the Cumberland Plateau until US70 dumps you into Rockwood. From there it’s straight shot back to Knoxville.

This is a very long day at nearly 400 miles. Gas stations are plentiful with a few marked along the route. 

Navigation difficulty: AVERAGE
Distance: 146-168 miles
Lunch Stop: Roane County Park which is less than 35 miles from the STAR HQ hotel. Catered lunch from Buddy's BBQ requires a Lunch Ticket that can be purchased at event registration.
Direct Route: The most direct route (34 mi) will get you away from the hotel on surface streets intersecting with US70 just before you leave Knox County. It’s a direct ride from there to Roane County Park just west of Midtown. The ride from US321 to Kingston is fun curves and sweepers.

Indirect Route: This route is 20 miles further and wanders through Knox, Loudon, and Roane counties on little backroads. The last part of the ride travels along the Tennessee River (Watts Bar embayment) finally delivering you to Roane County Park.

Long Ride Home: Utilizing backroads to avoid Rockwood takes you back to US70 and then up onto the plateau. US70 twists and turns to the community of Ozone where one can park and take a short walk to the top or bottom of the falls. Return east on US70 to Dogwood Rd and ride south. Eventually the route will take you to SR68 at Grandview. The route will take you down the mountain and into Spring City. Fuel is available here and then you will continue on New Lake Rd (SR302) back to SR68 which will take you across Watts Bar Dam. From here a series of backroads will wander across Meigs and Loudon counties to Loudon. US11 takes you to yet more backroads to avoid Lenoir City and then into Knox County for the return to STAR HQ (total: 112 mi). 

Drag and Drop Website Builder