Road to the Smokies – Day 7

This is the story of my road trip from Pekin, IL to Gatlinburg, TN on my Honda CBR 600 RR motorcycle.

My breakfast at Krispy Kreme.

Alas, all good things must come to an end, and today is my last day in the Smokies. First, though, let me rewind to last night. I was bored around 10PM so I suited up and went for a ride. It was amazing. Why did nobody tell me that night riding here is so great? It isn’t as treacherous as some people would have you believe, and it is without a doubt one of the best rides I’ve been on in my life. Apart from the ride itself, I also noticed that there is a Krispy Kreme Doughnuts shop in Pigeon Forge and decided that it would be my first stop for today’s adventure.

After scarfing down two doughnuts and some cappuccino I set out for the back roads behind Pigeon Forge to see if I could get lost. Unfortunately I didn’t get lost but I did find some nice peaceful roads to relax on. I spent about an hour roaming around before making my way back into Gatlinburg. At this point I wasn’t quite sure where I wanted to go. I didn’t want to ride too far and be worn out for the ride home on Saturday and Sunday, but I didn’t want to sit around and do nothing either. I remembered that I never checked out Look Rock up on Foothills Parkway and decided I’d go in that direction.

The ramp leading up to the lookout tower on Look Rock.

I made my way through the national park and then Townsend before finally reaching the parkway. I made my way up to the overlook where the trail for Look Rock starts and set off on a hiking mini-adventure. Halfway up the trail I couldn’t help but laugh at myself because I was hiking a half mile up the side of a mountain in a riding suit and boots; I had to look comical. The effort was definitely worth it, though. There is a lookout tower on Look Rock that gives you a breathtaking 360-degree view of the area and makes for some spectacular photography. After breathing in the fresh air for a few minutes I headed back down and got on my bike.

I continued down the parkway until I made it to the other end and turned around. I thought it might be fun to see how fast I could make it back to the other end so I waited for the clock on my bike to tick over to the next minute and took off. As I approached the other end of the parkway it had been 11 minutes, and that was even after I got stuck behind two SUVs for a good 30-seconds. 16.5 miles, 11 minutes, you do the math.

By this time it was about 2:30 so I decided to stop for lunch at a BBQ place in Townsend. They had seating out back in a big screened porch on the river, and the food was fantastic. I had a sweet and spicy BBQ pork sandwich with homemade fries and a big mason jar full of sweet tea. When I had finished lunch I just sat and watched the river for a while and soaked up what was left of my last day in the Smokies.

For the route back to Gatlinburg I took 321 to Pigeon Forge and then 441 into Gatlinburg instead of going through the park and dealing with slowpokes. Now I’m back at the motel packing up my things and sorting through photos, wishing that this whole adventure could last just a little bit longer. One thing I’m absolutely sure of is that I’ll be back next year. You can bet on it.

A panorama of the view from the lookout tower at Look Rock.

You can see all of the photos from my trip in my Facebook album: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2068810&id=197102025&l=9f9eff78bb

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