In another post, I have described another riding route that included the most northern part of the Rattler (NC-209), but there is also good riding to enjoy on the southern part as well. Therefore this post will detail riding the entire Rattler (NC-209). This riding route will also include riding a portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) from mile post (MP) 423 to MP 456. I think this is the best section of the BRP in North Carolina because traffic isn’t too bad and it has a lot of fun curves and of course amazing views. MP 423 is located at the intersection of NC-215 and the BRP, and MP 456 is located at the intersection of US-19 and the BRP. Remember, there is no gas on the BRP and it is a national park. You will have to go to federal court if you get a speeding ticket. America Rides Maps, Map #6, illustrates much of this ride in a hard copy map.
The route description starts at Hot Springs, NC since I have previously described, in the Rattler link above, how to get to Hot Springs from the Johnson City, TN area. This route description gives you two options for getting back to Johnson City. In the first option, riders can head back to Hot Springs after getting onto US-19 from the BRP. This first route option is the shorter but more challenging route. The second route description allows riders to ride approximately a 20-mile portion of I-40 then take back roads into Jonesborough, TN. Then it is only a 6 mi ride to I-26 in Johnson City. The back roads are in good condition and although some are a little curvy (TN-107 being the twistiest and most interesting), they are a fairly easy ride. You could also bore yourself to death by just getting on US-321 from I-40 or from TN-73 and head straight back into Johnson City.
If you just want to ride the most twisty portion of Rattler but don’t want to ride the BRP, just turn around at the stop sign near Fines Creek on NC-209. There will be a gas station that caters to riders on your right just before the stop sign so it is an easy turn around to get back to Hot Springs. I think the gas station even has a Rattler sign so you can take a photo of you and your motorcycle and/or buddies for evidence that you rode the Rattler. The Rattler becomes pretty straight south of the Fines Creek stop sign so you won’t miss much if you decide on turning around at this stop sign.
Note that the maps for the route descriptions shown below are in sections so that I could add more detailed instructions for each route.
Route 1 – Hot Springs →NC-209 S→NC-215→BRP→US-19→NC-209 N→Hot Springs→back to JC, 265 mi.
From Johnson City, TN on I-26, get off at I-26 Exit 40. Go to exit stop sign.
Left onto TN-36 S Go 0.2 mi
Go under I-26 overpass and Right onto Temple Hill Rd Go 0.2 mi to APPCO Convenience Center for gas
Continue southwest/straight on TN-36 S/ Temple Hill Rd Go 4.7 mi
Slight right onto TN-352 W (US-19W turns to left at this point)
Go 4.9 mi
Right to stay on TN-352 W Go 4.2 mi
Straight onto NC-212 S Go 14.2 mi
Left onto NC-208 S Go 3.5 mi
Right onto US-25/US-70 Go 5.1 mi into Hot Springs
Straight onto Lance Ave for ~0.1 mi. Smoky Mountain Diner will be on your right in Hot Springs.
(37.1 mi to here from I-26 Exit 40; 60 miles from I-26 Exit 17)
Straight onto NC-209 S/Lance Ave . Go 25 mi to stop sign/ gas station in Fines Creek.
Left to stay on NC-209 S. Go 12 mi.
Straight onto US-23 BUS S/Asheville Rd. Go 2.1 mi.
Traffic circle, 3rd exit onto Ratcliff Cove Rd. Go 0.5 mi.
Straight/Right onto Raccoon Rd. Go 1.4 mi.
Left onto US-276 S. Go 2.8 mi.
Right onto Edwards Cove Rd. Go 1.6 mi.
Straight onto Lake Logan Rd/NC-215 S. Go 15.8 mi.
Exit toward Blue Ridge Pkwy. Go 0.1 mi.
Right onto Blue Ridge Pkwy. Go 31.6 mi.
Left onto Exit Ramp to US-19 N. Go 0.1 mi.
Right onto US-19 N. Go 12.3 mi.
Merge onto US-19 N/ US-23 N/ US-74 E. Go 0.5 mi.
Exit 104 for US-23 BUS toward NC-209/ Lake Junaluska. Go 500 ft.
Get in left 2 lanes to turn left onto US-23 BUS N (signs for Lake Junaluska/ Hot Spgs/ NC-209. Go 0.2 mi.
Straight onto NC-209 N/ Crabtree Rd. Go 11.7 mi.
Right onto NC-209 N. Go 24.7 mi to Hot Springs.
Head northeast on US-25 S/ US-70 E/ Bridge St. Go 5.1 mi to stop/yield sign.
Left onto NC-208 N. Go 3.4 mi to stop/yield sign.
Right onto NC-212 N. Go 14.2 mi.
Straight onto TN-352. Go 4.2 mi to stop sign.
Left onto TN-352 E. Go 4.9 mi.
Straight/Left onto US-19 W N. Go 1.1 mi.
Left onto first entrance to I-26 W. Go 230 ft.
Right onto I-26 W Entrance 43. Go 25 mi to I-26 Exit 17 in Johnson City.
Alternate route, Route #2, describing route from US-19 after BRP back to Johnson City. This makes a 265 mi route starting and ending at Johnson City.
From intersection of Blue Ridge Parkway and US-19 N,
Left onto ramp to US-19 N. Go 0.1 mi.
Right onto US-19 N. Go 8.3 mi.
Left onto US-276 N. Go 5.6 mi.
Straight to stay on US-276 N. Go 0.4 mi.
Enter Entrance ramp onto I-40 W. Go 9.7 mi.
Continue northwest on I-40 W entering TN. Go 21.5 mi. (Exit I-40 Westbound Rest area, if needed.)
Exit on I-40 Exit 440 for US-321/ TN-73. Go 0.2 mi.
Straight onto TN-73. Go 6.7 mi.
Right onto US-25 S/ US-70 E. Go 13.5 mi.
Left onto TN-107 E. Go 13.5 mi.
Left onto TN-107 E/ TN-70 N. Go 0.8 mi.
Right toward TN-351 N. Go 160 ft.
Merge onto TN-351 N. Go 11.3 mi.
Right onto TN-107 E. Go 7.5 mi.
Left onto TN-353 N. Go 0.9 mi.
Left to stay on TN-353 N. Go 12.4 mi.
At traffic circle, take 3rd exit onto W Main St. Go 0.5 mi.
Left onto TN-81-Truck. Go 1.1 mi.
Right onto W Jackson Blvd/ US-321. Go 1.9 mi.
Left onto TN-354 N/ Boones Creek Rd at stoplight. Go 6.0 mi to I-26 Exit 13.