Sights From the Motorcycle Road – Penland Post Office

Yesterday’s explorations north of Asheville brought me back to many familiar roads, several good new ones, and far too many unpaved and unsuitable trails that had to be investigated regardless. With leaf season past its peak thanks to some windy storms, I followed the Blue Ridge Parkway north and paused along the way to see what remains. There’s still some good color down low, but it’s mostly yellows, browns, and gold that hold fast to the branches for another week or so.

Photo - view from the Blue Ridge Parkway

The Black Mountains viewed from the Blue Ridge Parkway between Crabtree Falls and Little Switzerland. Still some leaves giving a last show of color.

Northeast of Spruce Pine, NC, an excellent motorcycle ride can be enjoyed on Penland Road. It diagonals between the the too heavily trafficked US 226 and US19E and is a welcome relief from the four lane bustle. Near the midpoint sits the tiny hamlet of Penland and the ancient Penland Post Office.

Photo - Penland Post Office

The flag was the giveaway the Penland Post Office was still in business. I've passed by many times, today I stopped to visit.

I’d passed by it many times, noting it’s location, but never paying it much attention as it appeared to be abandoned. Yesterday, seeking a spot to stop and consult my map, I found it’s very much alive and functional despite its antique appearance.

Photo - Penland Post Office

A place preserved in time, I had wondered if the Penland Post Office was just another abandoned relic of the past. Hardly the case.

The female postmaster seemed to welcome the intrusion of me poking about, snapping a few photos, and inquiring about the location. She tells it’s slated for restoration thanks to the efforts of the nearby Penland School of Crafts.

Photo - Penland Post Office

I suspect many of these boxes are tended only by ghosts, though it's hardly an isolated area. Generations have lived back in these mountains and continue to do so.

Discovering sights like these is one of the best reasons to get off the Blue Ridge Parkway and explore the wealth of back roads that weave throughout the Smoky Mountains. Were I to photograph and visit all of them I’d get little mapping done. Trust me, there are plenty more awaiting your discovery and the roads and motorcycle rides that lead to them are what keep me going.

Photo - Penland Post Office

While I did see a computer in the back room, I suspect this typewriter and brass scale got just as much use.

The Blue Ridge Parkway projects an image of isolated mountain wilderness that doesn’t truly reflect just how many people have lived adjacent to it since times before there were cars and motorcycles. Think about it – something like popular Mabry Mill on the parkway could never have existed were there not a community that needed and supported it. Many of those communities persist and the roads which connect to and lie nearby the Blue Ridge Parkway are the gateways to discovering them. Discover America Rides Maps and find this wealth of hidden treasures.

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Wayne Busch
Wayne Busch – Cartographer
– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com
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I Just Keep Finding More Great Motorcycle Rides

Image - Map CoverAsheville

Map - The Best Roads North and South of Asheville, NC - the revision is so close to being done.

I’ve resigned myself to the fact it’s going to take at least one more day on the road to investigate some roads for the revision of America Rides MapsThe Best Roads North and South of Asheville, NC“. I’ve already added more than a dozen new roads to the hundreds of miles of great motorcycle rides I’d already charted, roads which link the existing great rides together and expand the options to stay out on the two lane back roads enjoying the twisty bliss of carving through the tallest mountains in the east. I’ve got at least a dozen more yet to be evaluated and judged.

I systematically go through each of the dozen maps I now produce, re-evaluating each of the roads by riding them again, noting any changes along the way to insure you get the most up to date and best ride info I can produce. I’ve been reworking this Asheville map for well over a month now and thought I was closing in on wrapping it up. I sat down to knock off the last chunk of it today, and as the clock now approaches midnight my efforts have only yielded yet more possibilities that must be explored. The devil is in the details, and I too often find as I get down to the final detail work I start to ask questions. Has this road been paved? Is there a way to find a link between these two great rides? If this road was so good, what about this one nearby? The questions just keep coming and I research them as best I can then pencil in the ones I can’t rule out. There are enough unanswered to warrant another long day in the saddle, maybe two.

I’ll spend tomorrow getting things as close to finished as I can. Then, I’ll go out on the road and spend the day or two that’s needed to ride each and every one of them to see if they measure up. Though my last trip was very rewarding, this time I suspect it will be mostly disappointment – that’s the norm. Still, if one or two of them pan out, I’ll come home happy. These are the last of the last, kind of like sifting through the tailings at a gold mine to see if any small nuggets were missed. A real bonus is finding another reliable out of the way gas station. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll stumble across a real jewel. You never know until you ride it.

 

Photo - Wayne and his motorcycle

A couple more days on the road should do it. I'm really excited to get to the next map, I have some big plans for expansion.

Addendum: This region north of Asheville is one of the most undiscovered areas of great mountain motorcycle rides. Few venture into this area though there are a wealth of fabulous motorcycle rides through the tallest mountains in the east virtually devoid of any traffic. This time of year, when leaf peepers clog most of the backroads, you can ride all day through this area and count the cars on one hand. This map will give you a vacations worth of great rides and you’ll still come back for the ones you didn’t get to.

America Rides Maps – nobody covers the Smoky Mountains as comprehensively so you can make the most of your precious riding time.

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Wayne Busch
Wayne Busch – Cartographer
– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com
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Why Am I Kicking Off the Asheville Bikefest 2011 at the Easy Rider Motorcycle Show?

Photo - Easyrider Events

Easyrider Events

It was a busy week that found me in four states, the last of which was South Carolina at the Greenville Easy Riders Bike Show where I spent the day promoting the Asheville Bikefest and Blue Ridge Run coming next spring. This is a difficult post for me to write as I don’t want to get on the wrong side of so many who are involved with motorcycle events, people I need to work with, people who buy my America Rides Maps, and those for whom motorcycling has a different appeal. Please try to forgive me my viewpoint. In general, I don’t do events, it’s not for me.

Photo - Setting up at Bike show

2 Hours to set up before the doors open. Mark and Yvonne prepare our stall.

For those who are involved, it’s a tremendous amount of work and hassle. I shudder at the tough life of being a vendor, the constant travel, set up and break down, long days spent trying to stand out from the rest of the crowd and reach people, hoping the weather cooperates and people turn out in sufficient numbers to make it worthwhile. I’ve done it a few times and I respect those who either make it their living or spend their efforts doing promotions for products and manufacturers.

Photo from Easyriders Bike Show

Quite the assortment of custom motorcycles at the show - unfortunatley, they're not my cup of tea.

Nor do I go out of my way to attend events – The circus formula always seems the same. Vendors, bike shows, stunt shows, loud music, festival food and (not so cheap) cheap beer, bike games, yadda yadda. Of course the crowds who attend are generally as much a part of the experience as anything else, people and bike watching is one of the best parts, there’s always something that has you shaking your head for one reason or another. I suppose it’s as good an excuse as any to visit new places, a reason to ride somewhere, and for some it seems to be all about chasing the next party.

Photo - Amazing detail work on this trike

The detail work on some of these machines is amazing but for me they are just enormous paper weights - too delicate to ride.

Despite this viewpoint, I was up at 4 AM Saturday morning loading my stuff in the truck quite happy to be rendezvousing with Yvonne and Mark Cresswell, promoters of the Asheville Bikefest and Blue Ridge Run for the ride down to Greenville.  I was eager to spend the beautiful fall riding day in a booth encouraging people to come to the event next spring. WHY?

Photo from Easyrider Bike Show

Hundred of hours, thousands of dollars to build a bike you don't dare ride. While I appreciate the dedication and effort, I'm still a function beats form guy.

For me, motorcycling is all about the ride. “Go” trumps “show” for me. Function beats form. Give me the bike that best lets me engage the road and relate to the ride. Sure I appreciate the esthetics of my machine, but my days of cleaning chrome, fretting every blemish and speck, washing, waxing, and polishing, and pondering the next piece of bling are long over. I’ve got better things to do with my time, I’d rather be out on the road.  The reason I’m so enthusiastic about the Asheville Bikefest and Blue Ridge Run and why I believe in it – it’s about the riding.

Photo - concept bikes at show

Either concept bikes or movie props, I couldn't determine if they actually moved under their own power. I wouldn't want to have to ride one of these very far.

Located just minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway and hundreds and hundreds of miles of some of the best motorcycle riding found anywhere, the Asheville Bikefest and Blue Ridge Run can’t help but become one of the nations major motorcycle events because it has so much more to offer the motorcycling visitor simply because of its geography. Combine one of the worlds best motorcycle riding locations with the talent and experience to coordinate a major event, throw in the outstanding scenery in a location within easy reach of millions of riders, add the spice of fun and funky Asheville, and you’ve got a recipe for an experience that will satisfy any taste. As the spring rally at Myrtle Beach continues to implode and burn out, this new star is rising thanks to the Cresswells at Worldwide Dynamics.  Their legacy of involvement with promoting some of the biggest motorcycle events such as Sturgis, Laconia, Leesburg, and others bring the connections and clout to not only bring in the big dogs from the factories, but be selective in choosing the best of vendors and entertainment.

Photo - skeleton on a motorcycle

Halloween themes were timely this late in October.

Last year was the first Asheville Bikefest and Blue Ridge Run and we all wondered if it would go at all. Approvals and commitments did not come in until the last minutes and the opportunities for pre-promotion were scant. Most of the big dogs know better than to invest their time in a first year show. It’s a hurdle you’ve got to clear, a bar to jump to show it can be done. That leap is behind us now and the majors are making their commitments.

Photo - the Route Master at work

Me at the Asheville Bikefest and Blue Ridge Run helping you find the best rides and routes.

I’ll be back again this year acting as “Route Master” (unless we come up with a better title). Let Mark handle the Bikefest end of things. My mission is to get you out to enjoy the riding just as the first warm spring weather breaks and the trees and mountain foliage are in full bloom. There are so many outstanding motorcycle rides nearby you can come back every year for the rest of your life and ride a great new motorcycle route each time, though I suspect you’ll develop a handful of classics that are worth revisiting over and over. I think I did a good job last year giving out 30 local ride maps – trust me, nobody rode them all. I’ll be your resource to help you plan those daily excursions, route you to the best of the best, and help you discover the hidden sights and treasures that abound.

 

Photo - Yvonne on her Royal Enfeild

Yvonne on her 2010 Royal Enfield Military Edition motorcycle, a design virtually unchanged since 1955. She really likes it.

Pencil in May 12 – 15, 2011 on your calendar for the Asheville Bikefest and Blue Ridge Run. Kick off your riding season with a bang, get outfitted, test ride that new bike, and discover the undiscovered secrets that make the Smoky Mountains one of the best motorcycling regions in the world. It’s all about the ride.

Asheville Bikefest and Blue Ridge Run 

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Wayne Busch
Wayne Busch – Cartographer
– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com

 

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Fall leaves – Photos from The Snake Motorcycle Ride

With such a beautiful day I was itching for an excuse to get out of the office, onto my motorcycle, and enjoy it when an email came in from David at the Shady Valley Country Store at The Snake Motorcycle Ride in Tennessee. He needed to be restocked on maps, and I was curious about a recommended road in the area – Denton Valley Road. Thats all it took.

Photo - Fall leaves on the Snake - US 421

The were some nice spots of fall color on US 421 a.k.a. "The Snake" yesterday. I was delivering a load of maps to the Shady Valley Country Store.

The big question was “How to get there?” Normally I’d take the Blue Ridge Parkway north to Linville, then jump on the back roads to skirt around the traffic in Boone. Knowing the Blue Ridge Parkway would be heavy with leaf peeping traffic, I considered going east to take the most common routes, but I also knew US 321 would be clogged with traffic and I’d get held up going through Boone. That left a western approach, so I went to Asheville, then up I-26 to US 19E from which I could jump on the back roads once I neared Elk Park. Looking back, I should have just followed the back roads all the way. I got held up in the construction on US 19E and could probably have made the trip in the same amount of time and had a lot more fun. Time was an issue as it was after noon before I left the house.

Photo - Fall leaves on The Snake - US 421

I snapped this photo just before I started down Denton Valley Road from US 421. The sun hit just right, the colors are real, not enhanced. I tried to tone them down, but decided to go with what the camera captured.

It was nearing 4 PM when I concluded my business at the Shady Valley Country Store and continued west on US 421 enjoying the twists and curves of The Snake to reach Denton Valley Road. It was a decent ride, though I hadn’t researched it well enough and ended up spending the next hour and a half exploring it and the roads which connect to it to determine the best and most natural routes. I rolled into Bristol, Virginia, around 6 to refuel and resigned to taking the Interstates back home as it was the most efficient course. It’s not the first time I’ve made that trip in the dark, and unprepared to be out so late I once again suffered the chills of going through the high pass on I-26 at Buckner Gap at night – it ‘s always cold there.

I pulled into the driveway at 8PM, shivering but happy after a decent 350 miles and a collection of new roads to add to America Rides Maps collection.

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Wayne Busch
Wayne Busch – Cartographer
– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com
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Video – Fall Leaf Status – a Motorcycle Ride on NC 209

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=en5xcyY_kcc

A compilation of video clips from a weekend motorcycle ride to Hot Springs, North Carolina to show the current status of the fall leaf color in the Smoky Mountains.

Jackie and I have been out enjoying the fall colors at every chance. I shot this video on an afternoon ride out to Hot Springs to see what the leaves looked at in the lower altitudes. Some of the leaves have already dropped at the higher elevations on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We saw some nice color near Linville and also near Soco Gap and the lower areas of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Waynesville.

There’s still a surprising amount of green on the trees so this show will go on for a while longer. It’s not as dramatic as when everything comes in at once, rather, you stumble across pockets of it here and their that are really nice. I hope the mild weather continues as I have more roads to explore for America Rides Maps before the winter starts to limit my rides.

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Wayne Busch
Wayne Busch – Cartographer
– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com 
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Photos – Blue Ridge Parkway Leaves and Motorcycles – 10/14/10

Photo - fall colors at Soco Gap

View heading down from the Blue Ridge Parkway at Soco Gap on US 19 towards Maggie Valley. The hills are really lighting up now.

The weatherman paid me back for that prior post by starting this “sunny day” with fog, clouds, and rain. I stand by what I said – never believe what’s forecasted. It’s OK, the day was shot anyway as I waited for a mid-day phone call that never came. I used the office time to get caught up.

Photo - leaves changing at Soco Gap on the Blue Ridge Parkway

I snapped this photo at the exit ramp at Soco Gap on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I only spent a few minutes driving around admiring the leaves. Great colors are almost everywhere.

The rain gave way to bright sunshine and cool breezy weather after lunch. I finally grew weary of working on the updates to the Best Rides North and South of Asheville map and had to get out of the office. Joanne at the Mountaineer Restaurant on US 19 just down from the Soco Gap exit on the Blue Ridge Parkway needed a restock of maps, and I knew there was always great color at the Mountaineer Restaurant, so I grabbed the camera and headed over there this afternoon.

Photo from Thunderstruck Ridge on the Blue Ridge Parkway

A view from the Thunderstruck Ridge overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This is where the photos of me in the Road Bike Magazine article were taken.

The photos I took at the Mountaineer Restaurant didn’t come out. Ever since I submerged my bike and camera in a river while exploring for the Best Motorcycle Rides in the Mountains of North Georgia, the camera has been temperamental and unreliable. I’m shopping for a new one.

Photo - leaves changing on the Blue Ridge Parkway

I brought the video camera along, but it was a little hazy for the long range shots I wanted. If the force is with me, tomorrow I'll get out with the bike mounted camera and get some of these great views to share. There are tunnels of color.

I don’t know what’s going on with the leaves in other places, I haven’t really been out for a few days. I hope to do some riding tomorrow to give you a more accurate report, at least of the local area. I suspect most of the leaves and color are gone from the highest elevations, above 5500 feet. We should get a cold snap tonight, maybe a little frost in the morning. That will really make the leaves pop – right on schedule.

View of leaves changing at the Plott-Balsam overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway

There were a lot of motorcycles on the Blue Ridge Parkway. My quirky camera only gave me this one shot near the Plott-Balsam Mountains overlook. I'm almost desperate enough to go out a buy a new camera in the morning.

I only spent a few minutes out of my day to take these photos. We’ll see what tomorrow brings, I’d like to get out and ride. Virtual Blue Ridge , the best resource for Blue Ridge Parkway info, has a new leaf report posted here.

http://www.virtualblueridge.com/color-reports/ 

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Wayne Busch
Wayne Busch – Cartographer
– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com

 

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Jay Leno Recommends Visiting Wheels Through Time Motorcycle Museum in Maggie Valley, NC

 

Photo - Jay Leno at Event

Jay Leno at Pebble Beach Event

See the interview at Jay Leno’s Garage, here.

In mid-August 2010, Wheels Through Time Museum Curator and Founder, Dale Walksler, was bestowed the honor of displaying two rare American racing motorcycles from the museum collection at the famed Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in Pebble Beach, California.  Regarded as the world’s premier gathering of automotive history, the sixty year-old invitation-only event annually brings together several hundred of the rarest and most desirable vehicles ever produced for a one-day spectacle that attracts tens of thousands of fans and spectators from around the globe.

2010 marked the second year in which motorcycles were displayed, with a total of twelve two-wheel machines gracing what is often referred to as the best finishing hole in golf — Pebble Beach’s 18th Fairway.   When the judging was complete, Walksler and both museum machines in attendance came away with two out of three of the shows top honors — the rare 1909 Reading Standard placing second, and the one-of-a-kind 1929 Harley-Davidson DAR placing third.

While at the Concours, both Walksler and the two Wheels Through Time motorcycles garnered particular attention from fans and specators alike, including one of the most famed celebrities in show business, Jay Leno.  During the show, the avid car and motorcycle enthusiast, and host of NBC’s Tonight Show, conducted an in-depth, six-minute interview with Walksler highlighting both the prestige and excellence of those machines lucky enough to be invited to the once-a-year gathering.

During the interview, which was recently released on the “Jay Leno’s Garage” website, a subsidiary of NBC’s Tonight Show, Walksler and Leno discuss one of the award winning machines from Wheels Through Time — the 1929 Harley-Davidson DAR board track racer — addressing both its rarity and significance in the history of American motorcycling, and how it holds a special place in the museum’s collection of over 300 of our country’s most historic two-wheelers.  Walksler shares the intimate details of how the machine was found after sitting idle for over 70 years, and the process in which it was brought back to its former, ear-splitting glory.

Photo - Jay Leno and Dale Walksler from Wheel Through Time Motorcycle Museum in Maggie Valley

Jay Leno and Dale Walksler from Wheels Through Time Motorcycle Museum in Maggie Valley, NC

Jay also offers high praise for the Wheels Through Time Museum itself during the segment, citing it as one of the best museum’s in North America.  During the interview Walksler and Leno share the origins of the museum — a dream of Walkslers since he began collecting over 40 years ago — and the museum’s focus on rare, all-American motorcycles, particularly those with great stories and exceptional pasts.

“Having the opportunity to display two machines at Pebble Beach is an outstanding honor for myself and the entire museum staff,” said Walksler.  “We’re so proud to share these machines with the rest of the automotive and motorcycle world, and Jay has played a big part in sharing them with a wider audiencethan ever before.”  During the segment, Leno even addressed his hopes of coming to shoot another piece at the museum in the future.

The interview can be seen on the Jay Leno’s Garage website, located at www.JayLenosGarage.com, accessed by visiting the videos page and clicking on the “motorcycles” link on the left side of the page.  Titled “Motorcycles of Pebble Beach 2010”, the video also touches on other rare motorcycles featured at the Concours.

For more information about the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, Jay Leno’s Garage, or the Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley, NC, visit www.WheelsThroughTime.com or call (828) 926-6266.

Read the story and see more pictures on the Wheels Through Time website.

Matt Walksler

Wheels Through Time Museum

P.O. 790 / 62 Vintage Lane

Maggie Valley, NC 28751

(828) 926-6266

mattw@wheelsthroughtime.com

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Wayne Busch
Wayne Busch – Cartographer

 

– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com

 

 

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A Bad Leaf Photo & How to Read a Wooly Worm

I SHOULD be out on my motorcycle exploring! It’s all prepped and ready to go. The fall leaves are doing their best to entice me, the sun is shining, the sky is blue, it’s unusually warm. Duty calls and I’m confined to the office. At least I have a nice view from my window;

Photo - view out my office window

Shot through the window (and the screen), the view from my desk is calling me to get outside. The hillsides are more colorful every day.

I’ve got work to do. I’ve yet to get all the new motorcycle rides I’ve discovered on the appropriate maps. The good / bad news is rain is coming so I won’t feel so bad about spending tomorrow working at the computer. It’s here for a day, then things should cool off a bit (get back to normal), and the days which follow are projected to be clear and sunny.  Can’t wait to get back out on the road again.

Of course I’m putting too much faith in the weather forecast. It is so rarely correct you never really know what to expect even over the short term. Long term? You’re better off making your own guess. I’ve heard all sorts of predications about the winter. Most, after a really harsh winter last year, are predicting an even colder one this year. I’d prefer to get out and ride more and am going to trust in the most reliable of mountain forecasters – the wooly worm.

Photo - A wooly worm

A fuzzy picture of one fuzzy worm. Black means cold, brown mild winter weather.

How to Read a Wooly Worm – Dark colors, black, mean very cold weather. Light colors, brown mean mild weather. To know what the winter weather will be read the worm from head to tail. According to this one, there will be an early cold snap, then a generally mild winter followed by some harsh weather late in the spring. We’ve already had a good cold snap so maybe things will be great for a while according to this little critter.

PS – if you don’t like what your worm says, just find another.

wayne@americaridesmaps.com

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Smoky Mountain Fall Motorcycle Ride Leaf Report and Lots of Photos

It has started. The fall leaf change has begun in the Smoky Mountains.

Photo - blue ridge Parkway fall leaf on motorcycle

Following Jackie on an evening ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway south of Asheville

It’s confined to the highest elevations at this point. Nearly all these photos are above 5000 feet.

Photo - fall leaves on the Blue Ridge Parkway

It's not nearly the full show even at the high elevations. You hit pockets of color.

As it’s mostly confined to the highest areas, the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the best spots to observe the emerging color. With the leaves also comes increased traffic.

Photo - fall color on the Blue Ridge Parkway

View from Waterrock Knob. There is still plenty of change and more color to come. It's just getting started.

You’ll find some nice color around Mt. Mitchell State Park along the parkway. It’s the highest mountain in the east. Craggy Gardens is mostly disappointing right now. It has no big trees and the leaves are gone from the low brush. Things will improve as the color spreads down the slopes it overlooks.

Photo - fall color at a Blue Ridge Parkway overlook

It's rare to find a deserted overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway right now. This one wasn't empty long.

There’s some decent color just north of Asheville, but most of these photos are taken on the best section of the Blue Ridge Parkway – south of Asheville. It’s the highest and most scenic.

Photo - view from the Blue Ridge Parkway

The skies have been unusually clear lately. You can see several states from almost any overlook.

Things will probably peak up high next weekend or so. Not to worry, the show moves down the slopes once the high parts are done. There’s still a lot of green.

Photo from Blue Ridge Parkway

Right now the show will be up on the parkway. In a couple weeks, you'll find the color on the back roads which it overlooks and in the valleys below.

Living here you can see the change every day. It’s amazing how fast this all seems to happen.

Photo from the Blue Ridge Parkway

Still a lot of green at the lower elevations. The exposed ridges turn first.

We had a cold snap that set things off – 3 inches of snow on Mt. Leconte in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Recently, it’s been unusually warm. Temperatures in the 70’s today, you couldn’t ask for better motorcycle riding weather.

Photo from the Blue Ridge Parkway

This scene will get better over the next week or so. You should be here.

Motorcycles are everywhere. This warm weather won’t last. Be sure to pack some warm gear. Mornings will get frosty again soon.

Photo - leaf changing on the blue ridge parkway

This rugged scenery is not confined to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The roads I've mapped in the surroundings are just as good if not better.

Enjoy the Blue Ridge Parkway now. When you tire of the crowds and congestion, get out on some of the great back roads which surround it. I’ve mapped more than 3000 miles of them and am still finding more.

Photo - motorcycle cruising on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Remember, the Blue Ridge Parkway is just the beginning of the adventure. There is so much more to see.

UPDATE – here are a few more photos from today. We did a little hike out to one of our favorite panoramic spots on a 6000 foot bald this morning.

Photo from Max Patch

Wayne and Jackie, with Ajax and Sophie, at Max Patch. Awesome views from 6000 feet.

We know the colors come in first at the high points. Max Patch is just across the North Carolina border in Tennessee. On a clear day like today, it was a good time to go see the start of the leaf show.

Photo from Max Patch

It's so wonderful to have such clear skies. You can see the pockets of leaf color that stretch to the horizons.

It’s a magic time in the Smoky Mountains and I’ll be out riding as much as I can over the next few weeks. I’ll do my best to slow down and snap a photo or two to share now and then, but somehow the colors just make the great motorcycle rides all that more fun. It’s hard to stop.

Photo from Max Patch

No enhancement or PhotoShop on any of these photos.This is just as they came out of the camera.

I hope you’ve made plans for a visit. If not, add this to your list for next year. You’ve got to plan ahead for lodging and such during leaf season. The rides are always there and are just as enjoyable in the spring and summer. If you’re hard core like me, it’s a year round passion. Hope you’ve enjoyed these pics, and with luck I’ll have more soon.

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Wayne Busch
Wayne Busch – Cartographer

 

– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com
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Great Motorcycle Rides North of Asheville Discovered

It’s not often I have such a successful day when out exploring for new motorcycle rides to add to my maps but Friday was one of the best. Most of the roads I evaluate don’t measure up against my strict standards – low traffic, engaging scenery, and a challenging and fun motorcycle ride. Nearly every road I explored turned out to be good enough to add to my map of “The Best Motorcycle Rides North and South of Asheville, NC”.

Photo - river north of asheville

Most of todays rides were through the valleys near rivers. The twisty roads hug the banks.

The weather was ideal – atypically warm, sunny, and clear. The first hints of fall color were starting to emerge in places. Most of that is concentrated in the highest elevations right now, see the post to follow for some photos of the best color. The bulk of todays riding was searching out roads to link and connect to the already outstanding rides previously discovered.

Photo - river north of Asheville

I stopped here for a break along NC 197. It's a great ride as are the roads which connect to it.

I had been avoiding the area around US 19W due to the construction to widen the road to 4 lanes. Part of the mission was to discover the side roads which skirt around it. That construction will be going on for quite some time. I found a bunch of them.

Photo - The lake at roaring Creek, TN

You can see a hint of fall color near this lake along Roaring Creek Road in Tennessee.

I also located a nice loop ride south of Johnson City, Tennessee, a good road to make loops near Roan Mountain, and quite surprising, still more great rides near Little Switzerland and the Diamondback. Much of the riding this trip was down low, through the valleys and along the rivers which are rides you can do pretty much all year round, places to go  after the Blue Ridge Parkway has closed for the winter season.

Photo - Stopped near Roan Mountain

This road turned out to be a great way to make a loop ride when doing the popular ride over Roan Mountain. There is one very short but well maintained unpaved section.

I’ll be adding these new motorcycle rides to the map  The Best Motorcycle Rides North and South of Asheville, NC” this week. It’s almost done with the upgrade to the new and improved format slow but sure.

Photo - mountain view

The skies have been unusually clear lately and the long range views are outstanding.

I got some great photos of the start of the fall color in the higher elevations on the Blue Ridge Parkway. You’ll find some nice stuff starting near Boone and Banner Elk, in the area around Mt. Mitchell and the Black Mountains, not so much near Craggy Gardens, and then some north and south of Asheville. It’s still a little early, the peak will come next weekend, though it will continue through the lower elevations for a while. Next post will show you some color.

America Rides Mapshttp://americaridesmaps.com 

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Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer

 

– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com

 

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