The following day we backtracked to Rt 411 and went north through Vonore and picked up Rt 72 to the Foothills parkway. The Foothills Parkway parallels the western edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It has an interesting history. It is the oldest unfinished highway project in Tennessee. Construction has been continuously stalled by funding difficulties since Congress authorized its construction in 1944. This stretch is the longest open section but it is less than 17 miles. It is a beatutiful ride however and ends at 321 which we took to 337 and the entrance to the park.
Driving through the park, we detoured to the Cades Cove Loop Road which is an 11-mile one-way paved lane that skirts the bottoms of the mountains which surround the fields of the valley floor. There were deer contentedly grazing on the side of the road and traffic ground to a halt as families stopped to observe and take pictures. It was a hot and slow 11 miles.
From there, we rode 337 east through the park to 441, and then north to Gatlinburg where we ate lunch. Then it was back onto 441 south through the park into North Carolina. We passed the entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway (tomorrow’s ride) and continued into Cherokee, NC where we found a motel for the night.