Riding the back roads of East Tennessee is a motorcyclist's favorite past-time. It is also a favorite activity of many car owners who enjoy Sunday afternoon rides. Two favorite routes that provide an abundance of natural beauty are The Devil's Triangle that starts in Rocky Top and goes to Morgan County and the Southern Settlement Trail that takes you to the Cumberland Gap and back.
The Devil's Triangle takes you through the mountains of the Cumberland Plateau. It is a two mile road that makes a 45 mile loop. There are sweeping curves and tight twist in the road and three tight, steep switchbacks. Also the way, you can discover the mining history of Coal Creek. (Find out more at The Coal Creek Miners Museum and the Coal Creek Motor Discovery Trail.) In addition to the natural beauty of the mountains, you can also see the 18 Windmill Farm located at Windrock Park. Brushy Mountain Prison is aslo located on the Triangle which housed James Earl Ray, assassin of Dr. Martin Luther King, until his death in 1998. The prison is also the only prison to have a natural wall, the side of the mountain, as one of the prison walls. It is no longer operated as a prison. It is actually privately owned and under development as tourist attraction. Parts are currently assessible but check its status online before you make plans to visit.
The Southern Settlement Trail highlights the Cumberland Gap. The Cumberland Gap is a narrow pass through the long ridge of the Cumberland Mountains, within the Appalachian Mountains, near the junction of the U.S. states of Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee. It was the first gateway to the west. Many buffalo, the Native Americans, the longhunters, the pioneers and the civil war soldiers traveled this route through the mountains to get from the north to the south.
This scenic drive will take you by the Museum of Appalachia where the story of the early pioneers come to life through the museum’s log structures and Hall of Fame. Other highlights include Norris Dam State Park, McCloud Mountain, the Elk View Tower, Cumberland Gap National Park, Abraham Lincoln Museum and Big Ridge State Park. Don’t forget to stop in the Appalachian Arts Craft Center to shop for hand crafted art.