The Cherohala Skyway Through the Great Smoky Mountains

In 1997, a new scenic highway known as The Cherohala Skyway, opened in a remote area where the famous Blue Ridge Parkway failed to go. Stretching forty three miles between Tellico Plains in eastern Tennessee, and Robbinsville, North Carolina, this incredible roadway connects the east and west sides of the Great Smoky Mountains just south of the national park boundary. For much of that distance, it hugs the rugged Tennessee-North Carolina border. The name is a combination of Cherokee and Nantahala, the two National Forests that are crossed by the roadway. Construction lasted for thirty years.

The overlook above looks to the north at the mountains toward Knoxville.

The view from another Tennessee overlook, above,  captures the ridges just east of Chattanooga. The elavation here is only 2,500 feet.

As you pass the 4,500 foot area, complete trees are already in full autumn color.

Today may be September 12th, but fall can’t be very far off…

Climbing above 5,500 feet, you cross into North Carolina, above, and the mountains in the national park are visible along the northern horizon.

Making the steep descent toward Robbinsville, you skirt one of the “prongs” of Santeetlah Lake, just one of many lakes created by the Tennessee Valley Authority to produce electricity in this formerly inaccessible wilderness.

Fontana Lake is the largest of the TVA projects in the Carolina Mountains, and stretches almost to the limits of Robbinsville, and the end of the breathtaking Cherohala Skyway.

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