Georgia State Road 197 is a nice “stretch of the legs” that’s carved into the Appalachian foothills of northeast Georgia. Its 30-mile length runs from its southern end at the town of Clarksville, to Scenic Highway 76, also known as the Lookout Mountain Highway, at its northern terminus. In keeping with its Appalachian locale, the two-lane road is moderately twisty, with sedate hills that smoothly increase in amplitude as you ride north, keeping it interesting in both the ‘x’ and ‘y’ axes. Sections of the road feature overhanging trees to shade you from the hot sun in summer and cool blue views of Lake Burton, which border the road on its eastern side as you approach Highway 76.
Plan to stop at LaPrade’s Marina at Lake Burton for lunch and some nice views of the lake. The elevated deck upon which the restaurant sits offers cool breezes and a great vantage point for watching the boat traffic using the marina, and those enjoying life at the water’s edge. Expect to see other riders taking a midday break on a picturesque riding day. On the afternoon I stopped by, a 1960s vintage Amphicar—the only regular production amphibious automobile ever produced—was taking a swim. This unusual vehicle was manufactured in Germany from 1962 to 1967 by the Amphicar Corporation.
As it is only 30 miles long, SR 197 works well in conjunction with longer day rides in northwest Georgia; other well-known riding roads, towns and state parks can be found winding through the area. To the east is Tallulah Gorge State Park, one of the most strikingly beautiful parks in Georgia, and to the west is the picturesque Alpine town of Helen, a frequent destination for motorcyclists who live in Georgia. Other well-known riding roads in the area include SR 348, the Richard B Russell Scenic Parkway, and SR 17, also known as the Unicoi Turnpike. At its northern end at Hwy 76, SR 197 is only a short distance to the border of North Carolina, and within an hour’s ride to both South Carolina and Tennessee.