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Route 26 to Asheville NC on to Route 23 through Nantahala

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Hi, we are driving from Connecticut to Atlanta in a few weeks. We are going down Rt 81 through Virginia. I am torn between going down Rt 77 towards Charlotte or continuing down 81 to Route 26 which will take us to Asheville, NC.

From Asheville, Route 23 goes through the Nantahala National Forest towards Georgia.

I am wondering about the terrain of Route 26 and Route 23. Are these mountain roads? Is February not a good time to be traveling through Nantahala. I am traveling with three kids so I want to try and make the trip as interesting as possible which I thought going off the beaten track might be fun--concerned about safety and time though.

Very hard to get a feel for what these road are like merely by looking at Google maps :)

Thanks for any advice.

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