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Cherohala Skyway facts for kids

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Route information
Maintained by TDOT & NCDOT
Length 43 mi (69 km)
Existed October 11, 1996 (1996-10-11)–present
  • SR 165 (Tennessee)
  • NC 143 (North Carolina)
States: Tennessee, North Carolina
Counties: Monroe, TN; Graham, NC
Highway system
Tennessee State Routes
Interstate • USNorth Carolina Highway System

The Cherohala Skyway is a 43-mile (69 km) National Scenic Byway and National Forest Scenic Byway that connects Tellico Plains, Tennessee to Robbinsville, North Carolina in the southeastern United States. Its name is a portmanteau of Cherokee and Nantahala, the two national forests through which it passes. Along with multiple vistas and overlooks, the skyway provides easy vehicular access to various protected and recreational areas of the Unicoi Mountains, including the Citico Creek Wilderness, the Bald River Gorge Wilderness, and the remote interior of the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest.

Planning for the Cherohala Skyway began in 1958 and the road was completed on October 12, 1996 at a final cost of about $100,000,000. The western (or Tennessee) half of the skyway follows Tennessee State Route 165 for nearly 25 miles (40 km) from Tellico Plains to the state line at Stratton Gap. The eastern (or North Carolina) half follows North Carolina Highway 143 for just over 18 miles (29 km) from Stratton Gap to Robbinsville. The skyway gains over 4,000 feet (1,200 m) in elevation, rising from a low point of just under 900 feet (270 m) at Tellico Plains to a high point of just over 5,400 feet (1,600 m) on the slopes of Haw Knob near the Tennessee-North Carolina state line. The North Carolina half of the skyway terminates near the south shore of Lake Santeetlah.

Route description

NC TN CherohalaSkyway
Cherohala Skyway in early autumn
North Carolina Cherohala Santeelah01
High point of the Skyway
Road near Tellico Plains
View at end of Skyway near Tellico Plains

Skyway highlights

  • Santeetlah Gap (Mile 0) — junction with Kilmer Road, which accesses Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest
  • Hooper Cove (Mile 2) — picnic area
  • Shute Cove (Mile 3) — picnic area
  • Huckleberry Knob (Mile 9) — short trail to the summit of Huckleberry Knob (elev. 5,560 ft or 1,690 m)
  • Hooper Bald (Mile 10) — short trail to the summit of Hooper Bald (elev. 5,429 ft or 1,655 m)
  • Santeetlah Overlook (Mile 11) — 5,390-foot (1,640 m) view of the upper Santeetlah Creek watershed
  • Big Junction Overlook (Mile 12) — View south from the 5,235-foot (1,596 m) gap between Haw Knob and Big Junction
  • Stratton Ridge (Mile 16) — picnic area; Benton MacKaye Trail access
  • Cherohala Skyway Welcome Plaza (Mile 17) — picnic area; connection to Forest Service Roads 81/Old Santeetlah Road and 217/North River Road
  • Unicoi Crest (Mile 18) — Tennessee-North Carolina state line, view of the Tellico River valley
  • Falls Branch Falls Trail (Mile 21) — short trail through a patch of old growth forest to a 55-foot (17 m) cascade waterfall
  • Lake View Overlook (Mile 25)
  • Turkey Creek Overlook (Mile 27)
  • Forest Service Road 345/Indian Boundary Road (Mile 29) to Indian Boundary Lake campground
  • Forest Service Road 210/River Road (Mile 39) to Tellico District Ranger Station and Bald River Falls
  • Cherohala Skyway Visitor Center and Charles Hall Museum (Mile 43)


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