Cherohala Skyway

Photo credit 828Vibes

43-mile National Scenic Byway from Robbinsville, NC, to Tellico Plains, TN

The Cherohala Skyway is a renowned 43-mile National Scenic Byway that stretches from Robbinsville, North Carolina, to Tellico Plains, Tennessee. This route, known for its picturesque landscapes and captivating natural beauty, was completed in the fall of 1996. The construction of this scenic highway, which took about thirty-four years, resulted in North Carolina’s most expensive roadway, with costs amounting to $100,000,000. The Skyway offers a unique experience as it winds up and over mountains reaching elevations of 5,400 feet in North Carolina and then descends into the forested backcountry of Tennessee. The route is especially famous among motorcycling and sports car enthusiasts for its long, sweeping corners and scenic views, which include cool summer breezes, vibrant fall colors, and breathtaking winter vistas.

The journey along the Cherohala Skyway is filled with numerous attractions and points of interest. Beginning at Santeetlah Gap in North Carolina, travelers can explore the nearby Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, scenic overlooks offering views of the Santeetlah River basin, and various picnic areas like Hooper Bald. The Skyway also crosses the Tennessee/North Carolina border, with historical significance marked by gravesites and historical events like the crash of a USAF C141 transport airplane in 1982. The road offers a chance to experience the natural and historical richness of the area, including stories of early settlers and intriguing tales like the introduction of the Russian Blue Boar to Hooper Bald in the early 20th century.

Descending into Tennessee, the Skyway presents spectacular vistas, picnic spots, and access to attractions such as the Bald River Falls and the Tellico River, famous for trout fishing and water sports. The town of Tellico Plains at the end of the route provides a perfect spot to refuel and relax, with places like the Tellico Kats Deli offering a scenic dining experience.

Overall, the Cherohala Skyway is more than just a road; it’s an adventure through some of the most stunning landscapes of the Appalachian region, steeped in natural beauty and rich history. For more detailed information and to plan a trip, you can visit the official website of the Cherohala Skyway here​​​​​​.

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