The following is the third of four parts recounting my trip to Georgia. For the first two parts, see “My Southern Excursion, Part 1” and “Part 2.”
After spending the night in Cleveland, TN, I set off on US-64 for the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests, and ultimately, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. With hundreds of miles of roads crisscrossing these forests in eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina, I planned to spend the entire day wandering through the woods. Just before sunrise, my first stop along the way found me at Ocoee Dam #1, part of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) system. This dam, the first of three, impounds Parksville Reservoir and is one of the oldest hydroelectric dams in the TVA system. US-64, portions of which are marked as the Ocoee Scenic Byway, follows the northern perimeter of the reservoir, affording many views of the Parkville Reservoir and the river that feeds it. The Ocoee River, home to some spectacular rapids, was the site of the 1996 Summer Olympics’ canoeing, kayaking, and slalom events and is now home to the Ocoee River Whitewater Center. As I continued along the Ocoee Scenic Byway, I encountered numerous scenic overlooks and an assortment of recreation areas that provide access to the river and its famed rapids. Stopping for pictures along the route can be treacherous in some places, however, as an overlook may be no wider than a car, placing one very close to traffic along this two-lane byway. After exiting the Cherokee National Forest just shy of the Tennessee-North Carolina border, I headed north on TN-68 out of Ducktown.