The “Snake” is the section of US-421 on both sides of Shady Valley, TN. The road curves right and left (like a snake’s body) over and over. There are some straight sections where you will get a little rest but mostly it is a lot of fun. You will see all types of bikes on this road including many sport bikes going very fast. The traffic is pretty light so you can ride the road to your liking. Just stay over to the right side of the road and signal for faster bikes to pass if you prefer to take it easy. The route described below will bring you by the Shady Valley store twice, and you can always stop there for gas, bathrooms, drinks and snacks. The Shady Valley Country Store in Shady Valley is a favorite hang out for local and touring motorcycle enthusiasts. Their food, typical unhealthy grilled and fried fare, is okay. The restaurant across the street, Race Track Restaurant, is much better; it serves Mom and Pop type food.
We ride a few different routes that include the Snake, and see my additional posts, The Snake Figure Eight and The Snake Sportbike Route, describing other routes that include the Snake. This ride report describes a 180 mi ride that includes US-58 east of Damascus, NC-194 north of Lansing, and NC-88 between Warrensville, NC and Big Laurel Rd/ TN-167. The section of US-58 east of Damascus, VA described in this post is 28 mi of riding bliss. The pavement is clean (although keep an eye out for gravel in right handed corners) and smooth and awesome curvy fun that keeps getting better the closer you get to the turn onto NC-194. NC-194 was repaved in 2016 and it is also a curvy fun road that will take you into Lansing, NC. There is no gas in Lansing but there are a few restaurants; we tried Pies Plate once and it was very good. You will then ride part of NC-88 another curvy fun road and then ride Big Laurel Rd/TN-167, another fun curvy road, into Moutain City, TN. That will put you back onto US-421, the Snake, which will take you into Shady Valley, TN. You can then continue straight on another section of the Snake on US-421, and then go over South Holston Lake, or you can take a left at the blinking yellow light in Shady Valley and head back to Elizabethton, TN via TN-91.
I’m sure if you have the time to ride the Snake more than once you will come up with some of you own route variations for the Snake. The riding route for this post is detailed below:
To Shady Valley via Stoney Creek
From BP gas station at TN-36/Roan St and Boones Creek Rd/TN-354,
Head northeast on S Pickens Bridge Rd Go 0.4 mi
Left to stay on S Pickens Bridge Rd Go 6.4 mi to stop sign
Right onto Allison Rd Go 0.3 mi
Cross over Bristol Highway (at stop light) and straight onto Piney Flats Rd Go 0.8 mi to stop sign.
Left onto Main St in Piney Flats Go 0.3 mi
Curve to Right onto Tank Hill Rd Go 322 ft
Curve to Left over RR tracks onto Mountain View Dr Go 2.2 mi to stop sign.
Right onto US-19E S Go 7.0 mi
Exit on Lovers Ln exit toward TN-91 Go 0.2 mi to stop sign
Left onto Lovers Ln / TN-91 N Go 21.8 mi to stop sign/blinking light in Shady Valley
Shady Valley to Damascus to US-58 to Rugby Rd/NC-194 to NC-88 to Mountain City to US-421
From Shady Valley,
Straight at stop sign/blinking light in Shady Valley.
Head northeast on TN-133 Go 11.3 mi entering VA going through Backbone Rock Tunnel
Straight onto S Shady Ave Go 1.9 mi to stop sign.
Before the next turn at the stop sign, there is a really good Mexican restaurant , Hey Joe’s Tacos and More, on Shady Ave between Creepers Way and Bank St, across the street from Laurel Family Drug.
Right onto E Laurel Ave/ E 3rd St in Damascus Go 0.3 mi
Curve to Right onto Douglas Dr/ US-58 E Go 0.2 mi to Mojo’s Trailside Café & Coffee on your right
Continue south on US-58 E/ Douglas Dr Go 0.8 mi
Left to stay on US-58 E Go 9.7 mi
Right to stay on US-58 E Go 18.7 mi to Grayson Highlands General Store for gas, snacks, bathrooms. About 5 miles before you get to the general store, Grayson Highlands State Park will be on your left.
After a stop at the general store, continue east 0.2 mi on US-58 E.
At first road after general store/gas station, Right onto Rugby Rd/State Rte 743 Go 3.7 mi
Straight onto NC-194 S entering NC Go 9.6 mi to Lansing NC stop sign
Left onto NC-194 S in Lansing Go 3.6 mi to stop sign in Warrensville.
Right onto NC-88 W Go 8.1 mi
Right onto Big Laurel Rd (Look for green sign pointing to Mountain City. You will also see an old gas station on corner of this turn).
Go 7.6 mi
Straight onto TN-167 S entering TN. Go 7.1 mi to stop light in Mountain City.
Right onto Shady St/US-421 N Go 13.1 mi to Shady Valley
Shady Valley Country Store will be on your right before the blinking yellow light.
You can continue straight on US-421 and go through another curvy section and cross over South Holston Lake. Then US-421 turns into 4 lane to head back. Alternately, you can turn left at blinking yellow light in Shady Valley onto TN-91 that will take you back to Elizabethton.