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Author Topic: Atlanta (western suburbs) to Gatlinburg, TN  (Read 2707 times)

doorknob60

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Atlanta (western suburbs) to Gatlinburg, TN
« on: April 29, 2021, 04:42:42 PM »

As part of a longer road trip starting in Atlanta and ending in Norfolk in mid-June, I'm going to be driving from Atlanta (hotel is in the western suburbs) to Gatlinburg, TN. There are 3 routes I could take, but I'm not planning on taking the mostly-freeway I-75 route, leaving 2 routes almost identical in time and mileage. They both go through the Smoky Mountains NP which I want, but other than that, I'm not sure which route is more interesting, more scenic, less likely to run into traffic, more pleasant drive, etc. Any opinions?


The western route is I-575, GA-515, GA-60 and 60 Spur, US-74, US-19, US-441
The eastern route is I-985, US-23, US-441
« Last Edit: April 29, 2021, 05:50:13 PM by doorknob60 »
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renegade

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Re: Atlanta (western suburbs) to Gatlinburg, TN
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2021, 04:49:24 PM »

Last time I was around those parts, I thought the segment between Murphy and Cherokee was quite scenic.  Not a lot of traffic.
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hbelkins

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Re: Atlanta (western suburbs) to Gatlinburg, TN
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2021, 05:01:36 PM »

Can't make out exactly what route you've chosen that goes through Blue Ridge and Murphy, but I'm sure I've been on parts of it.

I have driven the I-985/US 23 route. It's four lanes, not heavily traveled, and quite scenic.

Another option is to make your way over to US 411 and follow that to Maryville; at which point you can either stay on 411 to 441 or take US 321 and either follow it, or the old TN 73 route through the park itself to get to Gatlinburg.

Hasn't some new mileage opened on the Foothills parkway between the Townsend area and Pigeon Forge?
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doorknob60

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Re: Atlanta (western suburbs) to Gatlinburg, TN
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2021, 05:39:12 PM »

Can't make out exactly what route you've chosen that goes through Blue Ridge and Murphy, but I'm sure I've been on parts of it.
Yeah, not super obvious in the screenshots, hopefully this clears it up (and I'll add this to the OP)
The western route is I-575, GA-515, GA-60 and 60 Spur, US-74, US-19, US-441
The eastern route is I-985, US-23, US-441

Hasn't some new mileage opened on the Foothills parkway between the Townsend area and Pigeon Forge?
Interesting, for some reason I never noticed that section of Foothills Parkway on the map (I only noticed the short section between I-40 and US-321, which I'm planning on using later on the trip between Gatlinburg and Charlotte). Might consider that, but it and US-411 are a bit longer than the other 2 routes, and also misses out on US-441 through the park.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2021, 05:50:04 PM by doorknob60 »
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US 89

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Re: Atlanta (western suburbs) to Gatlinburg, TN
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2021, 06:06:02 PM »

I've done both of those routes south of US 76. US 23 and GA 515 are both 4-lane expressways that flow fairly well. I think 515 may have a slight edge in scenic value but for sure neither one is a bad option.

If you do go the US 23 route, I would highly recommend a stop at Tallulah Gorge State Park, which is just off 23/441 about halfway between the US 123 split and Clayton. Loop 15 has some cool views but they're nothing compared to what you get from inside the park.

Also, be prepared for US highways to be signed by their concurrent GA state route numbers only. While you will no doubt see US 23 signs on the road from Gainesville to US 123, it is primarily signed as GA 365.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2021, 06:08:43 PM by US 89 »
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dfilpus

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Re: Atlanta (western suburbs) to Gatlinburg, TN
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2021, 09:50:11 AM »

Second the stop at Tallulah Gorge State Park. It is beautiful.
The western route goes through the Nantahala Gorge on US 19/74. During prime rafting times, the highway is quite slow due to shuttle buses hauling rafts and people up and down the river's course.
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hbelkins

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Re: Atlanta (western suburbs) to Gatlinburg, TN
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2021, 05:15:04 PM »

Can't make out exactly what route you've chosen that goes through Blue Ridge and Murphy, but I'm sure I've been on parts of it.
Yeah, not super obvious in the screenshots, hopefully this clears it up (and I'll add this to the OP)
The western route is I-575, GA-515, GA-60 and 60 Spur, US-74, US-19, US-441
The eastern route is I-985, US-23, US-441

Hasn't some new mileage opened on the Foothills parkway between the Townsend area and Pigeon Forge?
Interesting, for some reason I never noticed that section of Foothills Parkway on the map (I only noticed the short section between I-40 and US-321, which I'm planning on using later on the trip between Gatlinburg and Charlotte). Might consider that, but it and US-411 are a bit longer than the other 2 routes, and also misses out on US-441 through the park.

In terms of speed, then, I'd take US 23. Significant portions of US 64/74 and US 19 are two lanes, especially the unimproved version north of (mumble that town north of Murphy, is it Andrews?)
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Mapmikey

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Re: Atlanta (western suburbs) to Gatlinburg, TN
« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2021, 08:50:24 PM »

Just 2 non-4 lane segments on the western routing:

GA 60/60 Spur about 11 miles
US 19-74 from Andrews to NC 28, about 21 miles

As stated upthread, if it is rafting season the US 19-74 section may be crowded with buses.
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Tom958

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Re: Atlanta (western suburbs) to Gatlinburg, TN
« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2021, 06:23:23 AM »

Just in case you don't know, the top end of 285 is one of the most reliably congested roads in the country. If you're leaving during morning rush hour, that might be a deal killer right there. I-85 in Gwinnett can be unpredictable, too.

If you're interested in natural scenery without getting out of the car, the western route is probably better. The eastern route is better for roadgeek interest, though. It incorporates a bit of everything along the freeway-expressway-four-lane highway spectrum. It's quite Pennsylvanian. There's also a magnificent open-spandrel arch bridge on old 441 less than a mile off the new route, though you have to clamber down an embankment for the best view.
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