We went to Franklin, NC October 2017 to ride the Dragon and other roads in the area.  Yippee!  It was fun and there are some super fantastic roads in the area.  I am now adding our riding routes to this blog.  A  lot of you are probably planning a trip to this area for some time in the future, so you might be interested in my posts about this area.  It will help you learn all you can about riding here.  We had taken week-long trips in the area before, but hadn’t been in a couple of years.

We like to stay in Franklin because it allows us easy access to the Dragon (US-129), NC-28 (part of Moonshiner-28), and Cherohala Skyway, but also is close to great riding roads in North Georgia.  Franklin also has the most restaurant options.  If you want to stay closer to the Dragon, staying At Deal’s Gap, Fontana Village, or Robbinsville are good options.  The Microtel Inn at either Robbinsville or Franklin is motorcycle friendly.  In the past we also stayed at a cabin in Fontana Village, but we brought our own food and coffee for breakfast and only one restaurant was open for dinner.  Fontana Village does have plenty of walking trails which is great to loosen up the tired old motorcycle legs.  You can also walk to the restaurants in Robbinsville, but they and the grocery stores do not sell alcohol.  The atmosphere around Deal’s Gap Resort is fun but does not appeal to us for a good night’s sleep.  There are plenty of options to check out; It all depends on what you want.

Note that there is road construction on NC-28 between Sanderstown Rd and US-74.  The newly paved road is awesome, but there is a one to two mile portion in this area that may be down to a single lane.  So you may have to wait your turn and go slowly through this part of the road.  The construction is almost finished and should be completed by the end of Oct 2017 (date according to the construction workers).

Everyone including us recommends riding the Dragon (US-129) on a weekday because the road on the weekend (Fri, Sat and Sun) is crowded.  If you enjoy people watching, you will get more of a full crazy crowd at the Deals Gap Resort on weekends though.  On weekends, however, there are many more cops and they do enforce the 35 mph speed limit.   Every day, photographers will be out taking your picture at several locations.  You can see your photos on each photographers web site and purchase the ones you like.  It is fun to spend some time at the Deals Gap Resort just to people watch, buy a T-shirt, etc.

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Check out the Tree of Shame at Deal’s Gap Resort.

When my sister joined us for a ride at Deals Gap one year, she rode the Dragon in one direction and spent the rest of the time socializing at the Resort while we enjoyed riding the road and up and back one more time!

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You will see all kinds of riders and motorcycles at Deals Gap Resort.

There are three detailed routes with maps for getting to Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort (Deals Gap); all three routes start in Franklin, NC.  We will be staying at an RV campground off US-23 north of Franklin so all routes start there.  I have also included one route with map for getting back to Franklin from Deals Gap via US-129, US-74, and NC-28.  Deals Gap is on the south side of the Dragon.  From Deals Gap you can ride the Dragon (US-129) north until the road straightens out, then turn around at the overlook on the left that has shaded picnic tables and primative toilets.  Then, ride back to Deals Gap for a drink brake.

US-129_picnic_overlook
View of Chilhowee Lake from Dragon’s turn around point. This turn around has primitive toilets and picnic tables.

On your ride back to Franklin, if you choose you can ride another great road in its own right the Moonshiner (NC-28).  Portions of NC-28 are included in the routes posted here.  Switch the direction of the routes around or ride the same way up and back.  Here are the routes that are posted:

  1. From Franklin – NC-28 to Deals Gap including the Dragon (US-129)
  2. From Franklin – Getting to Robbinsville via Wayah Rd then to Deals Gap.
  3. From Franklin – Getting to Deals Gap via Cherohala Skyway then riding the Dragon from north to south to Deals Gap.
  4. From Deals Gap – going to Robbinsville then to Franklin via US-74 and NC-28.

1) Getting to Deals Gap and riding The Dragaon (US-129) via NC-28 from Franklin, NC

GPX files below (See post How to Download GPX Files to your Garmin instument):

From Franklin to Robbinsville via NC-28

From Robbinsville to the Dragon via US-129

From Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort to Franklin via NC-28

From Franklin riding all of Wayah Rd

From US-74 just left of Wayah Rd to Robbinsville

From Franklin to riding Cherohala Skyway

From Cherohala Skyway thru TN-360

From TN-360 via Dragon to Deals Gap

To_Dragon_NC-28_map1
Map 1 for getting to Deals Gap from Franklin
To_Dragon_NC-28_map2
Map 2 for getting to Deals Gap from Franklin
To_Dragon_NC-28_map3
Map 3 for getting to Deals Gap from Franklin (note – much of this map is also included in Map 2)

 

US-129 (Dragon) from Franklin starting at The Great Outdoors RV Resort, Franklin, NC

South on Thumpers Trail   Go 0.1 mi (direction from RV park)

Left onto Echo Valley Rd  Go 308 ft (direction from RV park)

Right onto US-23 S/ US-441 S  Go 0.6 mi

Right onto Sanderstown Rd  Go 3.2 mi to stop sign

Right onto NC-28 N  Go 16.4 mi

Left onto US-19 S/ US-74 W  Go 3.1 mi

Right onto NC-28 N      Go 31.9 mi  (Altenately, if you want to eat lunch in Robbinsville, Go 11.3 mi on NC-28 and then turn left onto NC-143/ Sweetwater Rd.  It will be 8.8 mi on NC-143 to Robbinsville.  Turn right onto US-129 to get to restaurants.  After lunch, continue north on US-129 for another 10 to 15 mi to the Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort.)

Right onto US-129 N  Go 148 ft to Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort on right  for gas, snacks, bathrooms, T-shrits, etc. (55.5 mi to here)

South / Right on US-129 N  Go 13.5 mi entering TN to parking lot on left.

Turn around

North/ Right on US-129 N  Go 13.5 mi to Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort.

Turn around and repeat as much as  you want.

Head back to Franklin, NC via NC-28 (same way you came) or by a different way

2) From Franklin – Getting to Robbinsville via Wayah Rd then to Deals Gap.

GPX file – Coming soon

Note that some sections of Wayah Rd is switch back after switch back and will be slow going.

Dragon_Wayah_Rd_map1
Map 1 for getting to Deals Gap via Wayah Rd
Dragon_Wayah_Rd_map2
Map 2 for getting to Deals Gap via Wayah Rd

South on Thumpers Trail  Go 0.1 mi (directions from RV campground)

Left onto Echo Valley Rd  Go 308 ft (directions from RV campground)

Right onto US-23 S/  US-441 S  Go 6.5 mi

Straight onto US-64 W/ Murphy Rd  Go 3.7 mi

Right onto Patton Rd  Go 0.3 mi (This turn off of US-64 is not marked well; look for a sign that says “To Wayah Bald”).

Left onto Wayah Rd  Go 27.9 mi

Left onto US-19 S/ US-74 W  Go 2.2 mi

Right onto US-129 N  Go 29.4 mi passing through Robbinsville

Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort will be on your right.

3) From Franklin – Getting to Deals Gap via Cherohala Skyway then riding the Dragon from north to south to Deals Gap

GPX file – from Franklin to Robbinsville via NC-28 and NC-143 then Cherohala Skyway to Dragon and Deals Gap

Dragon_Cherohala_Skyway_map1
Map 1 from getting to Deals Gap via Cherohala Skyway and the Dragon
Dragon_Cherohala_Skyway_map2
Map 2 for getting to Deals Gap via Cherohala Skyway and the Dragon
Dragon_Cherohala_Skyway_map3
Map 3 for getting to Deals Gap via Cherohala Skyway and the Dragon

To Deals Gap via Cherohala Skyway and the Dragon

South on Thumpers Trail Go 0.1 mi (directions from RV campground)

Left onto Echo Valley Rd  Go 308 ft (directions from RV campground)

Right/ South onto US-23 S/ US-441 S  Go 0.6 mi

Right onto Sanderstown Rd  Go 3.2 mi

Right onto NC-28 N  Go 16.4 mi

Left onto US-19 S/ US-74 W  Go 3.1 mi

Right onto NC-28 N  Go 11.3 mi

Left onto NC-143 W/ Sweetwater Rd  Go 8.8 mi to Robbinsville

Right onto Rodney Orr Bypass  Go 0.5 mi

Straight onto US-129 N/ Tapoco Rd  Go 1.0 mi

Left onto NC-143 W  Go 3.4 mi

Right to stay on NC-143 W/ Cherohala Skyway  Go 22.7 mi entering TN

Straight onto TN-165 W/ Cherohala Skyway  Go 22.7 mi

(If you continue straight passing TN-360 N turnoff you will come into Tellico Plains, TN where there are restaurants)

Right onto TN-360 N/ Unicoi Turnpike  Go 10.3 mi

Right onto TN-360 N/ Unicoi Turnpike  Go 11.8 mi to Vonore, TN

Right onto US-411 N  Go 2.7 mi

Right onto TN-72 E  Go 9.0 mi

Right onto US-129 S  Go 22.2 mi riding the Dragon

Left into Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort

4) Riding Back to Franklin from Deals Gap via US-129, US-74, and NC-28

GPX file – From Deals Gap to Franklin via US-129, US-74, and NC-28

From_Dragon_Mao
Map for riding back to Franklin, NC from Deals Gap via US-129, US-74, and NC-28

Heading back to Franklin, NC from Deals Gap via US-129, US-74, and NC-28 (Different route but ~20 mi longer)

Starting at Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort, Robbinsville, NC

South /Left on US-129 S  Go 29.4 mi

Left onto US-19 N/ US-74 E  Go 17.4 mi

Right onto NC-28 S  Go 16.4 mi

Left onto Sanderstown Rd  Go 3.2 mi

Left onto US-23 N/ US-441 N  Go 0.6 mi

Left onto Echo Valley Rd  Go 308 ft (directions to RV park)

Right onto Thumpers Trail  Go 0.1 mi (directions to RV park)

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2 thoughts on “Riding Route to the Dragon (US-129)

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