The southern origin of SR-71 is near the point where SR-35 crosses the Tennessee River. As the route heads northeast from Section, it travels along a two-lane roadway that leads through rural areas of farms and woods in Jackson County. The road passes through the community of Dutton and continues through more rural areas, reaching a junction with SR-40 west of Henagar. Past this intersection, SR-71 begins its ascent into the foothills of Lookout Mountain, passing more farmland and woodland with occasional homes. The road continues through the community of Rosalie. From there, the roadway has numerous curves as it passes through Flat Rock, where it crosses SR-117. SR-71 continues winding northeast through more rural areas as it reaches the community of Higdon. A short distance past Higdon, the route intersects the southern terminus of SR-73 and makes a turn to the east. SR-71 continues east to the Georgia state line, where it continues into that state as SR 136.