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4 of the Best Motorcycle Routes East of the Mississippi
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4 of the Best Motorcycle Routes East of the Mississippi

America is a big place, and luckily for motorcycle enthusiasts, it’s got a lot of scenery and quite a few roads.

For those of us in the Eastern part of the U.S., we’ve put together a list of four of our favorite motorcycle routes east of the Mississippi River. Spanning north to south with a variety of climates and different conditions, this list has a little something for everyone.

1) The Tunnel of Trees: Michigan’s Route 119

Located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, state route M-119, known as the “Tunnel of Trees” due to the dense foliage on either side of the road, offers bucolic scenery and plenty to do on the way.

Beginning in the resort town of Harbor Springs, riders can start their trek at one of the many restaurants or farm stands before heading north on M-119. Enjoy dense forest, scenic farmland, and stop to stretch your legs at tourist attractions along the way like Pond Hill Farm and vineyard.

Also of particular interest is the Devil’s Elbow, a sharp curve next to a ravine once thought by the local Native Americans to be home to ghosts and spirits.

Read more about the Tunnel of Trees.

2) The Nada Tunnel & Red River Gorge

Central Kentucky’s Nada Tunnel is a 12-foot wide, 12-foot tall tunnel with no artificial lighting whatsoever. Here’s the kicker—it’s 900 feet long!

Riding through the Nada Tunnel is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so it makes sense that riders come from all over to do it. The gorgeous Kentucky scenery doesn’t hurt, either.

Located outside Lexington in the heart of the Bluegrass region, the area is great for riding even if you never get to the tunnel.

Read more about the Nada Tunnel route.

3) North Carolina’s Tail of the Dragon

Located in the Deal’s Gap mountain pass along the North Carolina/Tennessee state line, the so-called “Tail of the Dragon” is internationally famous among motorcycle riders. Few roads are on as many bucket lists!

A mere 11 miles long, the Tail of the Dragon is said to contain some 318 curves and turns. Some are sharp enough that they have their own names, such as “Copperhead Corner,” “Hog Pen Bend,” and “Gravity Cavity.”

It should be no surprise, then, that accidents are common. If you ride the Tail of the Dragon, do so at your own peril and as absolutely carefully as possible. If you don’t believe us, check out the Tree of Shame, a tree laden with the broken parts of bikes whose riders bit off more than they could chew.

Read more about the Tail of the Dragon and other North Carolina routes.

4) Catskill Mountains Route

Upstate New York’s Catskill Mountains region is one of the most beautiful in the country, if not the world. What better place for a motorcycle ride?

Rolling hills, lush forests, mountain vistas, babbling brooks, and more are all visible for narrow, winding back roads. We recommend starting in the city of Woodstock before heading across the Northern Foothills and into the Cherry Ridge Wild Forest. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for scenic reservoirs, like the Ashokan Reservoir at the bottom of the Phoenicia Wild Forest on Route 28.

Read more about riding Upstate New York.

What are your favorite motorcycle routes east of the Mississippi? Feel free to sound off in the comments!

Image Credit: The Tunnel of Trees in Michigan, by Bobak Ha'Eri (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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