Day Five: Second to last day, and our last full day of dedicated "twisties" driving. The plan was to make progress north, back towards Canada, but hitting a course through the best sets of twisties we could find.
First up on that list was a great-looking route (US-421), over the spine-like Iron Mountains -- a long, long northeast/southwest ridgeline that spanned a good ways across eastern Tennessee. We were not - I repeat, not - disappointed. First, we saw a bright yellow warning sign - to truckers, that the next 22 miles (nearly 40 km) had switchbacks, and that they should consider an alternate route. That's *always* a good sign. Next, we saw a small green sign that gave this stretch of highway a personal name. Personalizing a highway in this way is also a good sign. And that name? Well, it was "The Snake". ooo-ooo.... this was gonna be good.
After travelling through a bit of farmland, US-421 started climbing up to the crest of Iron Mountain's ridgeline, and "The Snake" was revealed.
In short: perfect pavement, wide, with a few great hairpins and some amazing back-and-forth esses. And although the roadway is mostly through forested terrain, quite a lot of that forest and related foliage has been pared back on the inside of turns so that you can more easily see across to the upcoming tarmac. Unusually so compared to most highways we'd been on. The only slight negative was that the speed limit was only 45mph along most of the highway, but it was so tight, going 50 or so was already pushing it pretty good.
Swooping Below Red Cliffs
Approaching US421 right-hander
US-421 up and down Iron Mountain had been awesome, and we welcomed the relaxing straight-ish drive across Shady Valley. Then another excellent burst of twisties across Holston Mountain and the Holston Lake reservoir. We crossed back north into Virginia at about 10 a.m., quite pleased with our taste of some of the twistiest Tennessee had to offer.
We kept to uncomplicated valley bottoms and even a bit of interstate for the next hour or so, making more progress north and east, before arriving at our next twisty adventure: Virginia State Route 80, which would soon bring us over a few more of the characteristic Appalachian Mountain chain's long, wrinkly ridgelines. Another set of large yellow truckers-dont-go-here-twisties-beware signs welcomed us.
VA-80, you're looking promising!
Rural Residential Twisties