Like a lot of old mill towns in NC, there's not much to Tellico Plains and most of the "new" stuff is on Hwy 68.
Check out Hwy 360 from Vonore, TN to Tellico Plains - nice back country ride that avoids the rest of boring US 411 and Hwy 68. At the intersection with the Skyway, turn right for "downtown" Tellico Plains.
Kat's Deli. Excellent sandwiches, deck right on the river. On road towards the Skyway, a little ways out of town.
Ditto River Road. Ride it all the way to Greens Cove - a place stuck in time, like the 1960s. Trout hatchery is just past it.
North River road is usually good hard pack gravel, but lots of rain may have some ruts. However, that road comes out right at the halfway point (and highest elevation point) of the parkway. You'll miss some good sections of parkway unless you double back on River Road. Or make a figure 8 route - see below.
Visitor center has lot of info about the local history, especially Cherokee. They were the Overhill Cherokees - different treaties than the NC/GA Cherokees.
Since you like gravel, near the NC end, take the FS 1127/1134 road to Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest for a walk among giant old growth forest (unfortunately, like in NC, all the giant hemlocks are dead due to the hemlock wooly adelgid). That same road goes all the way to Hwy 129 and comes out a few miles north of Robbinsville.
If you want a long, mixed surface route, go through Cades Cove in GSMNP, take the one-way gravel Parsons Branch Rd. which intersects Hwy 129. Then take FS 1134 to the Cherohala. Notice on map the gravel FS Santeetlah Creek Road which branches north off Joyce Kilmer road. Santeetlah Creek Road intersects the Skyway right across from North River Road. So, you could also make a figure 8 route of River Road, NC half of Skyway, Santeetlah Creek Road, TN half of Skyway.
Always inquire with local Forest Service office about conditions of the gravel roads due to all the rain.
To stretch the legs, there are a couple of stops on the NC side with short hikes to open grass balds the FS maintains for the views.
Enjoy the ride and be safe!
Bill in Roswell, GA
Bill in Roswell, GA
::2009 Vstrom DL 650 ABS, dark metallic silver - OEM center stand, SW Motech engine guards and skid plate, SW Motech Evo rear racks, Madstad brackets, Kaoko throttle lock, Conti Attack 2 EVO tires (PO won at Barber), Rick Mayer seat (super comfy), 2 Powerlets, Cortech Super 2 tank bag, Kouba rear adjustable lowering links, front lowered to match (PO added which is why I chose this bike, less than 29" inseam and I'm on balls of foot)....still need: top box, rear boxes/panniers, GPS, aux lights, bluetooth comm unit, maybe: Cal Sci windscreen; crash bars in place of engine guards; Conti TKC 20s::