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The Cherohala Skyway claims more lives than the Tail of the Dragon each year. In 2002 there were four deaths and two occurred at the sme location along the 50 mile highway. On Saturday June 21, 2003 there were two more serious accidents at different times at that same corner within a foot of each other. There must be something to this particular corner that causes riders to misjudge their speed and braking.

We have riden the Cherohala many times and know where to be cautious. In our opinion, this is what happens at this deadly corner. Approaching the corner southbound (photo 1) it appears to be just another sweeper. You have just come through a long, high speed, sweeping curve where you are tempted to twist the throttle and traveling downhill adds momentum. Suddenly the sweeper tightens (photo 2) and the railing becomes the focus of your attention. The first reaction if you are not used to riding in the mountains is to grab a whole lot of brake. Once the wheel goes you are sliding diectly into the railing at a high rate of speed. These photos only hint at the optical illusion riders face in this corner. In person this is one tricky piece of asphalt.

The Cherohala is a beautiful motorcycle road, but high speeds will kill you. The posted speed limit on the North Carolina side is a reasonable 45 mph ... on the Tennessee side it is a ridiculous 30 mph according to Highway Patrol.

The razor-like railing along most of the highway is what causes the most serious injuries to riders. When you ride the Cherohala, remember to look at the railing as something you do not want to meet. Also keep in mind that emergency medical service is at least 45 minutes away and a hellicopter transport will take another 30 minutes.

We have some gruesome stories/photos about accidents on this highway, but we will spare you the details. Just be warned that this is not the place for high speed or sightseeing as you ride. Save your speed for a track day where there is plenty of run-off and enjoy the sights at the pull-offs.

Photo 1

This view is coming around a big downhill sweeper that appears to be fairly consistent radius curve.

Photo 2

Well into the downhill sweeper and the decreasing radius becomes more evident to the rider. Too much speed at this point has caused several riders to overbrake and go down.

Photo 3

This is the point where several riders went down and slid into the railing about the center of the photo.

Photo 4

The curve begins to open-up. Here you can also see the downhill slant.

Photo 5

The curve is now just another sweeper.