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  1. Default Winter Route from Indianapolis to Greenville, SC

    We have just returned from a trip back to Greenville from Indianapolis where my husband is working for an indeterminate amount of time. We did run into some light snow about 4 hours into the trip on the other side of Knoxville, TN. The route we took from Greenville was North to Asheville, and from Asheville to Knoxville we traveled over I-40, over the Appalachians through the Great Smoky Mountains. That section of the trip (about 30 to 40 minutes worth of drive) was pretty terrifying for me since I am afraid of heights. It's not that it is so steep (there are no runaway ramps on this route), but the road is very winding (sharp curves), there is a lot of truck traffic, and the visible drop offs provide a reference point of the height that is very unsettling to me. I cannot imagine driving this route under snowy conditions. If you are heading North from the South, you are in a constant descent. From North heading south it is a constant incline of a drive.

    After reaching Knoxville the trip is bearable as far as dealing with the heights for me. We headed North to Lexington, KY, on (I-75) then NW to Louisville, KY, on (I-64), then North up to Indianapolis via I-65.

    I am looking to plan a trip back from Indianapolis to Greenville, SC, missing the drive over the Appalachian Mountains. I don't care if it takes twice as long. I thought if I drove straight down to Nashville, and then into Alabama (Birmingham), I could make the turn east there and go up to Atlanta via I-20, and then home to Greenville from there. I just don't know if I will get into the Cumberland Mountains doing that? Also I can't go over the mountain from Nashville to Chattanooga. I did that once, and there is a very steep mountain with runaway ramps, etc. driving from the east side of Nashville over to Chattanooga.

    Thanks for any help!

  2. #2

    Default There's a geography challenge here

    Hello maryelb,

    I'm sorry for your discomfort over traversing the Blue Ridge or the Smokies, but they're "in the way" all the way from northeastern Canada to Alabama.

    The I-77 option from Charleston, WV down through the southwest end of VA and into NC features a whole lot of up and down in WV and VA and a long descent, complete with runaway truck ramps, as I-77 drops off of the Blue Ridge into the Piedmont at the VA-NC line.

    You've already declined to consider I-24 from Nashville to Chattanooga.

    There are some truly awful highways between the London/Corbin area of Kentucky and the Kingsport area of Tennessee, where you could pick up I-26 down to Asheville, but I wouldn't get on those 2-lane highways, shared with coal trucks and school buses, for all the tea in China. Plus, I haven't driven the new I-26 section between Johnson City, TN and Asheville. It crosses Sam's Gap, and for all I know, there's a runaway truck ramp on one side, the other, or both.

    To completely avoid this topographic feature of continental proportions while using Interstates solely, you've got to stay on I-65 south of Nashville to Birmingham, thence I-20 east to Atlanta, and finally I-85 up to Greenville, SC. I haven't drive it, but for sure you've got some Cumberland Plateau to deal with between Nashville and the AL line, and more Cumberland and Ridge & Valley topography on the north side of B'ham (I just glanced at some online topographic maps). How that compares to I-24 between Nashvillen and Chattanooga, I haven't a clue.

    As distasteful as I find the 40 miles between Asheville and about the mile 440 in TN to be, I'd drive that 10 times before subjecting myself to Atlanta traffic and the truck traffic along I-85 from Atlanta to Greenville. Perhaps the wisest choice is "just get used to it". Otherwise you're trading one form of very remote risk for a more immediate form of other risk (extra distance + traffic hazards).


  3. Default


    Thanks so much for the insight. As far as Atlanta traffic, I've lived there for years and would rather go bumper to bumper with the best of 'em! :), and the I-85 traffic from ATL to Greenville is not bad at all, depending on the day of the week you travel it. Sunday is the least busy. A stopover in Atlanta with family who live there also makes it worthwhile.

    I have never traveled I-65 from Louisville to Nashville and then down to Birmingham. It was that part of the trip that I was worried about getting into any mountainous terrain. And I am assuming that from Birmingham over I-20 to Atlanta, it is pretty flat.

  4. #4



    There's the old saying "to each, his (her) own", so my antipathy towards traffic is mine and your anxiety about heights is yours, and that's just fine.

    I can make no statements about I-65 between Nashville and B'ham. The quick look I took at online topos indicated no obvious large-scale grades but the route does seem to go through hills just south of Nashville and the geologist in me knows the area north of B'ham is the southernmost portion of the coal-bearing Cumberland Plateau.

    I have driven the B'ham to Atlanta section a number of times and where it penetrates the widest segment of rocky Valley & Ridge and Blue Ridge geology between Anniston and Atlanta it's more of fairly straight, long, gentle-sloped hills than mountains. No runaway truck ramps whatsoever.


  5. Default Nashville to Birmingham (Fear of Heights)


    I am posting once again to see if someone has any detailed information on this planned leg of a trip during Winter weather.

    It is my understanding that north of Birmingham is the Cumberland Plateau. I was wondering if anyone knows, driving south from Nashville to Birmingham on I-65, if this roadway has any terrain that would cause anxiety to one who has a fear of heights. A "plateau" conjures up images to me of deep drop offs into gorges ...

    Thanks in advance!

    Mod note. Merged threads. Please keep all questions about this trip in one thread. Thank-you.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 01-07-2012 at 04:56 PM. Reason: Merged threads.

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