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  • Writer's pictureAnne Hartley

The Tail of the Dragon

To all my fellow riders out there, rather you are on 2 wheels or 4 wheels please always watch out for yourself and others. A lot of new riders have popped up. Be safe and as always keep your knees in the breeze. I thought this week it might be nice to share a little insight about the tail of the Dragon.

This nationally and internationally famous stretch of road is renowned for being a uniquely twisty and rollercoaster-like motorcycle ride. Tennessee's Dragon's Tail actually begins in North Carolina, dipping deeper into Tennessee as you go. This 11-mile stretch of road has an incredible total of 318 curves. The US 129 highway now has a cult following, with riders and sports car drivers alike coming specifically to the area to test out their ride's capabilities. There are occasional events and rallies on the road too, so check before you go to make sure the traffic isn't too intense. Designated US 129, the road is bordered by the Great Smoky Mountains and the Cherokee National Forest with no intersecting roads or driveways to hamper your travel. It is considered a destination throughout the spring, summer, and fall. Can you brave it? It’s best to be cautious as the turns are tight, but the Tail of the Dragon is guaranteed to be the ride of your life.

The nearby Cherohala Skyway is quickly becoming a destination too, with its remote 60 miles of breathtaking scenic mountain highway. The area also has other incredible roads like the Moonshiner 28, Foothills Parkway, Smoky Mountain Loop, Devils Triangle, Blue Ridge Parkway, The Gambler NC209, Diamondback 226, Devil's Staircase, Six Gap North Georgia, The Snake US421 and many Great Forest Service Dual Sport and Jeep Roads. Scenic 129 is a study of US Highway 129 which stretches from Chiefland, Florida to Knoxville, Tennessee. This 582-mile slab of pavement includes 11 miles of what has become an American classic highway known worldwide as The Tail of the Dragon.

Things to check out:

1. Cheoah Dam were featured in “The Fugitive,” and parts of the gearhead classic.

2. Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort in Robbinsville, NC is the perfect place to snap pictures, grab souvenirs, eat lunch, have a cold beer, or even spend the night.

3. Tail of the Dragon Store across the street for more great souvenirs, and your obligatory photo with the giant eponymous Dragon sculpture.

4. Calderwood Overlook. This beautiful scenic overlook just off the Tail of the Dragon offers a gorgeous view of the Cheoah Dam.

Little Known Facts About US129

1. May 31, 2003 Eric Rudolph on the Ten Most Wanted List of the FBI was arrested in Murphy, North Carolina just off US129. He had been a suspect in the Atlanta Olympic bombing since 1998 and had been in hiding at various places along US129 the entire time.

2. US129 crossing from Tennessee into North Carolina was originally promoted as the most direct route from Chicago to Florida.

3. There were plans at one time to have US129 run from New York to Pensacola, Florida.

4. US129 from Jasper to Old Town Florida is designated "Stephen Foster Highway".

5. US129 waged an advertising battle with US41 for tourism.

6. One of the largest searches in the Smokies brought attention to US129 in June of 1951. A 21-year old nurse was lost while hiking and bloodhounds traced her path to US129 near Calderwood. She was found two weeks later in the woods in good condition having survived with no food or equipment.

7. In the 1970s a local heavy equipment company in Robbinsville (P&J) would send new semi-truck drivers across the Dragon and back to see if they could handle the big rigs on the curves.

Local Events:

1. Hillbilly and Vets Pre-Party July 22nd at Mellowmoon 6pm

2. Hillbilly Jam and Hillbilly Show and Shine July 22nd & July 23rd

3. Christmas in July at Tennessee Hills Brewstillery July 25th 6pm


1. AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days July 22nd – 24th Lexington Ohio

2. Sturgis Bike Rally South Dakota August 5th – 14th


1. 8th Annual Hillbillies and Veterans Ride July 23rd

2. Marlene Dugger Cancer Ride July 23rd

3. Ride For A Cause August 13th 9am Cat Island Park

Bike Night:

1. Kingsport Moose Riders Every Wednesday

2. 19E Pit Stop Every Wednesday

3. Quaker Steak & Lube Every Thursday

4. Tulips Grub & Pub Every Friday

5. Peacemakers Bike Night 801 Boozy Creek Every 3rd Friday of each month

6. East Coast Wings Every Wednesday

7. Dog Tag Brigade Every Wednesday at Jonesborough VFW

8. The Pub Out Back Every Monday

9. Freddy’s in Kingsport every second Monday

10. Creek Side Bar & Grill in Stoney Creek every Wednesday


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