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Western North Carolina Highways

Map of the westernmost eight counties in North Carolina. A 2004 proposal, Interstate 3, a freeway concept between Knoxville, Tennessee and Augusta, Georgia, was envisioned for the North Carolina 69, U.S. 64, and U.S. 129 corridors in Clay, Cherokee, and Graham Counties. Astronomical costs for construction will likely preclude this route from ever being built.

Bound by the state borders of Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee, Western North Carolina entails the high country of the Appalachian Mountains. Home to the Great Smoky Mountains and Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests, the seven westernmost counties of North Carolina feature quaint towns, majestic peaks, and various lakes for boating enthusiasts. The roads of Western North Carolina include Interstate 40, U.S. 74 and the Great Smoky Mountain Expressway among others. This page takes a look at some of the U.S. and State Highways that traverse the North Carolina Mountains.

Photographs:

East - Haywood Co.
East - Buncombe Co.
West - Buncombe Co.
West - Haywood Co.

Interstate 40

Interstate 40 provides the main highway between Knoxville and eastern Tennessee to Asheville and the rest of North Carolina. The four-lane freeway cuts through the heart of Haywood County between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Canton. Interchanges exist with local roads within the Pisgah National Forest, the Great Smoky Mountain Expressway near Waynesville, and at Canton. Interstate 40 travels just ten miles from the Haywood County line to the city of Asheville.

Rock slides have caused closures on Interstate 40 periodically over the years. Most recent closures occurred on December 21, 2012 near mile marker seven for three days, January 31, 2012 near Exit 20 for two weeks and a six month closure between October 25, 2009 and April 27, 2010 at the Tennessee state line.

Photographs:

East with U.S. 64
East with U.S. 19-129
East from U.S. 19 to Whittier
West from I-40 to Whittier
West from Whittier to Andrews

Great Smoky Mountains Expressway

U.S. 74 enters the state of North Carolina overlapped with U.S. 64 from Isabella, Tennessee at the far western corner of the state. The U.S. routes cosign along a four-lane divided highway from there to Ranger where they join U.S. 19 & 129. All four route than travel northeast to Murphy where U.S. 64 leaves for Hayesville. U.S. 19 & 74 continue with U.S. 129 to Andrews and Topton where U.S. 129 departs for Sunteetlah Lake.

U.S. 74 exists in three portions as the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway. The first segment bypasses Bryson City and Ela to the south of U.S. 19. The second segment carries U.S. 23 & 74 north of Sylva. The final segment includes portions of both U.S. 19 & 23 as it bypasses Waynesville between Hazelwood and junction Interstate 40. All Great Smoky Mountains Expressway segments are signed with exit numbers based upon U.S. 74's mileage from the Tennessee state line.

Photographs:

North - GA to Murphy
North with U.S. 74-129
North - Bryson City to Canton

U.S. Highway 19

U.S. 19 travels more east-west than north-south through western North Carolina. The U.S. highway flows northward out of the Atlanta metropolitan area into the North Georgia Mountains before crossing the state line on an overlap with U.S. 129 near Ranger. Four miles across the state line the tandem of U.S. 19 & 129 merge with U.S. 64 & 74 for a seven-mile overlap to Murphy. At Murphy U.S. 19 Business loops into town and U.S. 64 leaves for Hayesville and Franklin. U.S. 19-29-129 continue 28 miles to Topton for the U.S. 129 departure for Robbinsville. A U.S. 19 Business loop serves the town of Andrews midway between Ranger and Topton.

After the split with U.S. 129, U.S. 19 & 74 continue along a two-lane roadway through Nantahala, Wesser, and the southern reaches of Fontana Lake. U.S. 19 partitions with U.S. 74 at the west end of the Great Smoky Mountain Expressway at Bryson City. The U.S. route provides the main route through town en route to Ela, Birdtown, and the resort town of Cherokee. Cherokee lies just south of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park within the Cherokee Indian Reservation. U.S. 19 shares a short stretch with U.S. 441 through town before exiting onto winding path through Soco Gap to Maggie Valley.

The narrow nature of U.S. 19 continues from Cherokee through to Maggie Valley. The curvy roadway is not recommended for trucks and a U.S. 19 Truck bypass is signed for U.S. 441 and U.S. 74 to the south. At Maggie Valley the U.S. route widens into a four-lane divided highway as U.S. 19 descends into Dellwood (junction U.S. 276) and Waynesville. A brief jog along the Great Smoky Mountain Expressway carries U.S. 19 around Waynesville to Canton. U.S. 19 & 23 depart U.S. 74 ahead of its merge with Interstate 40 for the jaunt through downtown Clyde and Canton.

Photographs:

North with U.S. 74
North with U.S. 19
South with U.S. 74

U.S. Highway 23

U.S. 23 is cosigned throughout its alignment in Western North Carolina. The route enters the state from Dillard, Georgia along with U.S. 441 via a four-lane divided highway. 14 miles north of the Georgia line is the merge with U.S. 64 around the Macon County seat of Franklin. U.S. 23 & 441 share two miles with U.S. 64 before resuming a northward journey to Dillsboro and junction U.S. 74.

U.S. 441 parts with U.S. 23 for U.S. 74 westbound to Cherokee. U.S. 23 meanwhile joins U.S. 74 to bypass Sylva and U.S. 23 Business to the north via the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway. U.S. 23 & 74 cosign through to the merge with U.S. 19 at Waynesville. At Exit 106, U.S. 19 & 23 split with U.S. 74 for Clyde and Canton as U.S. 74 merges onto Interstate 40. A U.S. 23 Business loop serves downtown Waynesville between Hazelwood and Clyde.

Photographs:

East with U.S. 74
West - Macon Co.
West - Clay Co. Ranger.

U.S. Highway 64

U.S. 64 comprises the longest route within the state of North Carolina. From the Tennessee state line to Nags Head on the Outer Banks, U.S. 64 travels over 600 miles within the Tar Heel State. Beginning its journey with U.S. 74, the U.S. highway travels 16 miles from Isabella, Tennessee to Ranger. Just east of there U.S. 64 & 74 join U.S. 29 & 129 for a seven mile drive to the Cherokee County seat of Murphy.

U.S. 64 leaves U.S. 74 and company at Murphy to skim the southern reaches of Clay, Macon, Jackson, and Transylvania Counties. This includes a 2009-realignment from Murphy east to North Carolina 141. The winding route includes travels through Hayesville, Chatuge Lake, Shooting Creek, and Rainbow Springs on the trek between Murphy and Franklin (junction U.S. 23 & 441). U.S. 64 merges briefly with U.S. 23 & 441 to bypass Franklin to the south. Additionally a U.S. 64 Business loop serves Hayesville.

Once outside of Franklin, U.S. 64 reduces back to two lanes and travels southeasterly again to Highlands with North Carolina 28. North Carolina 28 departs there for Pine Mountain, Georgia as U.S. 64 turns back to the northeast to Cashiers, Sapphire, and Cherryfield. U.S. 64 encounters the northern terminus of U.S. 178 in central Transylvania County near the town of Rossman.

The nine miles of pavement between U.S. 178 and the Transylvania County seat of Brevard include a four-lane divided stretch of U.S. 64. The route in conjunction with North Carolina 280 provides a direct shot to Interstate 26 and the Asheville metropolitan area to the northeast. U.S. 64 joins U.S. 276 for a three-mile overlap between downtown Brevard and North Carolina 280 before turning eastward for Etowah and Hendersonville. A U.S. 64 Truck route travels Caldwell Street one block north of U.S. 64 (Broad Street) in Brevard itself. A longer U.S. 64 Truck follows U.S. 74 and Interstate 40 between Hendersonville and Murphy.

Photographs:

North / South

U.S. Highway 129

U.S. 129 skims the western two counties of North Carolina between Ranger and Tapoco. The U.S. highway overlaps with U.S. 19 from the Georgia line to U.S. 64 & 74 outside of Ranger. From there U.S. 129 turns northeast on a divided highway with U.S. 19 & 74, 25 miles between Ranger and Andrews. At Topton, U.S. 129 leaves U.S. 19 & 74 to the northwest through the Sunteetlah Lake region en route to Maryville and Knoxville, Tennessee.

Photographs:

North / South

U.S. Highway 178

Only seven miles of U.S. 178 exist within the Tar Heel State. The highway begins at U.S. 64 outside of Rossman and travels southward to Rocky Bottom and Pickens, South Carolina. The scenic two lane highway encircles Sassafras Mountain, the tallest peak in the Palmetto State.

Photographs:

See photos below

U.S. Highway 276

Like U.S. 178, U.S. 276 is a Carolina-only U.S. route. U.S. 276 however is much shorter than U.S. 178 as it only travels between Greenville, South Carolina and Cove Creek, North Carolina. The U.S. highway serves the growing northern suburbs of Greenville before ascending to Caesars Head, South Carolina and Cedar Mountain, North Carolina. Like U.S. 178 to the west, the route features numerous switchbacks and sharp curves to traverse the high country at the state line.

At Brevard, U.S. 276 joins U.S. 64 for a three mile overlap out of town. U.S. 64 splits with U.S. 276 at the northbound beginning of North Carolina 280. U.S. 64 travels to Hendersonville, North Carolina 280 to Asheville, and U.S. 276 to Waynesville. The drive between Brevard and Waynesville however is much different than the drives U.S. 64 & North Carolina 280 take to their respective destinations. U.S. 276 traverses the Pisgah National Forest on the 30 mile drive to Woodrow that includes several switch backs and tight turns. Use U.S. 276 for the natural attractions of Sliding Rock and Looking Glass Falls.

Once outside the Pisgah National Forest, U.S. 276 intersects the south end of North Carolina 110 in Woodrow and North Carolina 215 north of Sunburst. A seven mile drive from there brings U.S. 276 into downtown Waynesville and junction U.S. 23 Business (Main Street). U.S. 276 travels a four-lane divided highway from Waynesville to U.S. 19 where the two merge together for two miles. At Dellwood U.S. 276 enters its final extant between U.S. 19 and Interstate 40 at Cove Creek.

Photographs:

--

U.S. Highway 441

Last but not least is U.S. 441. The highway enters the state with U.S. 23 near Norton in southern Macon County as a four-lane divided highway. U.S. 23 & 441 overlap from there 35 miles north to Dillsboro and the Great Smoky Mountain Expressway. The tandem bypasses Franklin along a two-mile overlap with U.S. 64 in central Macon County. U.S. 441 Business loops into downtown Franklin north of the U.S. 23-64-441 bypass.

Outside of Sylva is the switch off between the overlap with U.S. 23 and overlap with U.S. 74. U.S. 74 & 441 wind eight miles northwest to the Bryson City segment of the Great Smoky Mountain Expressway at Exit 74. There U.S. 441 finally maintains its own routing for the resort town of Cherokee. At Cherokee the highway splits between a business and bypass routing. U.S. 441 Business branches northeast to U.S. 19 at Cherokee. U.S. 441 Bypass stays west and joins U.S. 19 briefly before merging with U.S. 441 Business west of town.

U.S. 441 leaves Cherokee for Smokemont and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The highway is the only to travel across the mountains between North Carolina and Tennessee and is not open to commercial traffic. The 25-mile drive between Smokemont and Gatlinburg, Tennessee features striking views from the summit near the state line. Generally, the route curvature does not allow for high speeds.


State Highways

A handful of state highways are signed throughout the western eight counties of North Carolina. They are as follows:

Route South / West End North / East End Towns Served Mileage
28 GA state line TN state line Highlands, Gneiss, Cullasaja, Franklin, Iotia, Wests Mill, Lauada, Almont, Stecoah, Fontana Village 81.2
60 GA state line U.S. 64 & 74 east of Ranger -- 5.0
69 GA state line Hayesville -- 3.9
106 GA state line Highlands Scaly 10.4
107 SC state line Sylva High Hampton, Cashiers, Glenville, Tuckasegee, East Laport, Forest Hills 34.9
110 Woodrow Canton -- 5.5
116 Green Creek Webster -- 4.1
141 U.S. 64 north of Brasstown Marble Peachtree 8.7
143 TN state line Stecoah Robbinsville, Cheoah 38.3
175 GA state line U.S. 64 west of Shooting Creek -- 4.1
209 Lake Junaluska Hot Springs Crabtree, Luck, Trust, Spring Creek 36.4
215 U.S. 64 north of Rossman Canton Sunburst, Woodrow 40.6
280 U.S. 64 & 276 east of Brevard Arden Mills River 18.2
281 SC state line Tuckasegee Lake Toxaway 36.7
294 TN state line Ranger Suit 13.4

U.S. 276 East
U.S. 276 (Main Street) eastbound two blocks south of the U.S. 64 overlap along Broad Street in Brevard. The signalized intersection governs the movements between Main and Johnson Streets in downtown Brevard. Photo taken 07/23/04.
U.S. 276 east transitions from Main Street into Greenville Highway at the intersection with Park Avenue east of downtown Brevard. Greenville Highway is named for the U.S. 276 connection between Brevard and Greenville, South Carolina. Photo taken 07/23/04.
The last traffic signal encountered along U.S. 276 eastbound within the state of North Carolina. Intersecting the highway here is Parkview Drive and SR-1543. The Greenville Highway departs the town of Brevard after the intersection with Gallimore Road ahead. Photo taken 07/23/04.
Scenes along U.S. 276 (Greenville Highway) eastbound through the Dunns Rock and Cedar Mountain area of south Transylvania County. Initially the route straddles flat farmlands south of Brevard before ascending the mountains near the state line. The twisting and winding roadway features many switchbacks and undulation on the 22-miles between Brevard and junction South Carolina 11. Photos taken 07/23/04.
Western N.C. State Highways
North Carolina 215
North Carolina 215 (Blackwell Drive) northbound at SR-1643 in the town of Canton. The state route turns left onto SR-1643 for the drive to Interstate 40 & U.S. 74 north of town. North Carolina 215 and Newfound Road provide the main access points to Interstate 40 from Canton and West Canton. Photo taken 09/12/04.
Northbound North Carolina 215 at the Exit 31 diamond interchange of Interstate 40 & U.S. 74. The state highway ends here as SR-1582. There is no outlet to the system of roads north of the junction. Photo taken 09/12/04.
Miscellaneous Scenes Around Western North Carolina
SR-1188 / Spring Street northbound at its merge with U.S. 19 (Main Street) in Bryson City. U.S. 19 travels Main Street west along the banks of the Tuckasegee River to Spring Street where the U.S. highway turns north for two blocks. U.S. 19 turns back west along Alarka Road from Spring Street before the Slope Street bridge across the Tuckasegee River. Photo taken 09/12/04.

An older concrete bridge carries U.S. 19 & 74 across the Nantahala River between U.S. 129 at Topton and Nantahala Gorge. Photo taken 09/12/04.
Everett Street southbound at the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad crossing and Depot Street in downtown Bryson City. Everett Street crosses the Tuckasegee River in three blocks to meet junction U.S. 19 (Main Street). Photo taken 08/12/04.
SR-1375 constitutes the westbound frontage road of the Great Smoky Mountain Expressway in the vicinity of Exit 104. The roadway carries U.S. 23 Business and North Carolina 209 traffic onto U.S. 19 & 23 south and 74 westbound for Maggie Valley, Cherokee, and Bryson City. Photo taken 08/12/04.

Photo Credits:
  • 2004-07-23 by AARoads.
  • 2004-08-12 by Carter Buchanan.
  • 2004-09-12 by Carter Buchanan.

Page Updated 01-30-2013.

 
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