Not covered with snow on this New Year’s Day, but still quite beautiful. I finally got my chance to retrace US441 through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was winter, and it was a holiday – but traffic was relatively light, and boy was it a great ride.
I’d been wanting to do this one for a long time. Old US 23 in North Carolina. Of course, there’s lots more of the old highway yet to do, but this particular stretch – Skyland Drive – was just sitting there waiting, and for the longest time, blocked by a “road closed for construction sign.” This winter, that sign was gone. And so, I turned off the Great Smoky Mountain Expressway and headed up.
Back before Interstate 40 followed the Pigeon River over the mountains, our annual or sometimes semi-annual trip to the beach started with a trip over a narrow, winding road over Viking Mountain in Greene County. Still known as the Asheville Highway, it is State Route 70 in Tennessee (not to be confused with US70, which crosses the mountains near the French Broad conjoined with US25E) and changes to State Route 208 in North Carolina.
So I was heading home from my dad’s in Tennessee, trying to avoid the under construction Interstate 40 bridge over the French Broad. I decided to take US25E through Newport and over the mountains, to pick up 40 over in North Carolina, not realizing the Wolf Creek Bridge was being rebuilt and road was closed. […]
That stretch of US25E through Dutch Bottoms, the one that’s under water most of the time because of Douglas Lake, is one of my favorite old roads. I may have a new favorite — a highway with a similar story. It’s North Carolina State Route 288, and the unpaved track skirted near the bottom of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, following the route of the Tuskasegee River and then the Little Tennessee River from Bryson City to Deals Gap, where it ended at US129.