This time of year, thousands of road-hugging enthusiasts flock to Northeast Tennessee—motorcyclists in particular. Offering thousands of miles of scenic views, twists and turns, and fresh mountain air, The Southern Dozen is comprised of—you guessed it—12 routes highlighted for visitors.
The rides vary in distance—from 45-minute round-trips to daylong excursions. For the history buffs out there, the #3 Ride, Places of the Past, takes you past Davy Crockett’s birthplace and other museums. If you’re a floral fanatic, try the Top of the Roan #2 route and take in the world’s largest natural stand of Catawba Rhododendron. And if you’re looking to take an underground trip back in time, then the #6 Spelunker Tour is right up your alley.
On this 60-mile-roundtrip ride, you’ll see this unique cave, now called Bristol Caverns. It’s an underground labyrinth dating back more than a million years. In the early days of colonization in Northeast Tennessee, settlers were often confronted by Indians who seemed to attack and quickly vanish into thin air. Later, colonists discovered a majestic underground river that the natives had used as their mysterious secret weapon. Seeing the advantage it provided, they used as a hiding place during the Civil War.
As you make your way along paved, well-lit walkways down through vaulted chambers and along the banks of the ancient Underground River, the spectacular stalactites and stalagmites—some larger than tree trunks!—complement and add to the natural wonder and beauty of lofty subterranean rooms. It’s the perfect pit stop on your Southern Dozen trip!
Since its launch a decade ago, tens of thousands of vehicular visitors have made the Southern Dozen trails their go-to destination. But it’s important to know that these aren’t just routes for motorcycles. “They’re sport car-friendly and family-friendly,” Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Brenda Whitson said. “I’ve taken my grandkids on these rides and had a picnic. They all go somewhere that is very scenic.” There really is something for everyone!
For a detailed map and more info on each of the Rides, visit SouthernDozen.com.