Do you know why they measure the Snake route in miles? Because snakes don’t have any feet. But at the heart of Tennessee’s Snake are 489 curves in 33 miles crossing three mountains and one valley.
The midpoint of the 112-mile loop is the Shady Valley Country Store. It is a popular spot for a break, a bite to eat, to refuel with “Premium Snake Venom,” and to get your Snake T-shirts, patches, and other tchotchkes.
This is not a ride for the meek or novice rider. It snakes through mountains, farmland, and valleys. The Snake is a better version of North Carolina’s Deals Gap with fewer cops and crowds. There are plenty of floorboard-scraping, bag-dragging, mountainous switchbacks along the Highway 421 section. Overall road quality is good, and you can expect decent tire grip through the challenging curves. Just make sure to keep a lookout for Sunday drivers parked behind blind curves.
Another highlight of the route is Backbone Rock, which is claimed as the world’s shortest tunnel. It is a great stop to stretch your legs and do a short but steep hike to the top of the tunnel. A few dudes blasted though Backbone Rock in 1901 out of necessity for the railroad to transport lumber. After the dust settled they figured out the hole wasn’t big enough to accommodate the train’s smokestack (that’s what she said), so some poor sap had to chisel out a notch at the top by hand.
Tip: Bring your GoPro so you can see what views you might have missed because if you don’t keep your snake eyes on the road, you will end up in a ditch.