Not Good Enough for 100 Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rides

I’ve just released a map of the Smoky Mountains which shows nearly 200 motorcycle rides highlighted on it. Here’s one that won’t be on it, not good enough.

Photo-Grapevine-rd

A long section of bad pavement gives way to some great curves.

Yesterday, Jackie and I hopped on the bikes to follow up on a rumor of yet another good motorcycle ride tucked away in the mountains. Possibilities were high as the area northeast of Hot Springs, NC, is ripe with some of the most challenging and technical motorcycle rides you’ll find anywhere. The two lane roads that wind through these Tennessee mountains hug the edges of rushing creeks which snake the bottoms of shady valleys or carve steep steps through gaps and passes.

This is no place for the faint of heart nor the inexperienced motorcycle rider, though by the time you reach it those riders who won’t accept the challenge have already turned tail and run. Roads like NC 209, NC 208 probably give most riders as much thrill as they want. Only the adventurous consider these approaching roads just a warm-up and look to kick the ride up a notch with more challenging pavement.

photo-grapevine-rd

There are some very nice sections of Grapevine Rd, but overall, NOT GOOD ENOUGH!

I remembered Grapevine Road as soon as I turned on it. I’d been told by a couple people they thought it was a great motorcycle ride, but for some reason I couldn’t remember I’d not put it on one of my maps. I quickly figured out why.

The pavement was in such bad shape. Broken and potholed, sunken, bumpy, strewn with gravel, rocks, and loose asphalt. Add to that steep grades, devilish tight switchbacks, unforgiving drop-offs, and you’ve got a real handful, especially on a big bike.

The reason I’d come back to Grapevine Road is the last time, I made a quick judgment and turned around. Not having gone all the way through, I didn’t know how far until the pavement improved. I knew it had to get better as it approached more civilized areas to the south.

photo-jackie-thumbs-down

Jackie votes "thumbs down" on Grapevine Rd.

It was a long ride until the pavement smoothed out. Once it did, there was a decent section with some nice curves which become more sweeping and open, but little of scenic appeal.

Some may like this road, but there are so many better ones nearby, it’s the least appealing. Jackie gave it the “thumbs down”. No reason to recommend Grapevine Road.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer

Total Rider Tech Logo

Learn Total Control

– 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

Wayne is an advanced motorcycle instructor for Total Rider Tech teaching Lee Parks Total Control Advanced Rider Courses. It’s time you looked into advanced rider training to ride more confidently and safely, it will change your mountain riding experience. It worked so well for me I became an instructor! Total Rider Tech

_______________________________________________________________________________

See the map “Best Motorcycle Rides of the Smoky Mountains
Share

100 Best Motorcycle Rides in the Smoky Mountains

Motorcycle Map – Best Motorcycle Rides in the Smoky Mountains

America Rides Maps announces its first large format motorcycle ride map. Available in 24 x 36 inch and 31 x 48 sizes.

Image of map the Best Motorcycle Rides in the Smoky Mountains

Image of map the Best Motorcycle Rides in the Smoky Mountains - B&W version. Click for a closer look at all the detail!

The only map of its kind, The Best Motorcycle Rides in the Smoky Mountains highlights more than 100 of the best motorcycle rides and more than 50 good connecting roads to tie them all together into endless loops and touring routes.

This map is produced in Black & White  so YOU CAN CUSTOMIZE IT to fit your needs. Use colored markers to highlight where you’ve been or lay out where you want to go.

Santa - great gift ideaPlaning your motorcycle vacation trip has never been easier!

Hang it on the wall to show all the places you’ve been on your motorcycle vacation tours.

Got a favorite place to stay in the Smokies? Discover all the hidden riding nearby. Make the best use of your riding time, ride on on all the best roads,  avoid traffic and congestion.

$24.99 price includes free shipping and handling – First Class US Mail – average 2-3 day delivery. Ships unfolded.

Read more and order here: 

 The Best Motorcycle Rides in the Smoky Mountains

http://shop.americaridesmaps.com/The-Great-Motorcycle-Rides-of-the-Smoky-Mountains-BW-NC023BW.htm

Curious? Need more info? Email info@americaridesmaps.com

_______________________________________________________________________________

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
 
Share

North Carolina Motorcycle Rides – Hookers Gap Road

Photo-view-of-Hookers-Gap-Road

View of Hookers Gap Road - uphill section which leads from Newfound Road.

Hookers Gap Road is a secret little motorcycle ride near Asheville, North carolina, only a handful of motorcycle riders know about.  

Excellent pavement, non-stop  back-to-back curves, and an occasional views of the Smoky Mountains and valleys make it a ride any biker would love, but few ever discover. Shame – it’s really useful.

Hookers Gap Road is a useful motorcycle road as it (indirectly) links two well known favorite motorcycle rides – The Blue Ridge Parkway & NC 209 (The Rattler) 

Connecting Roads:

  • NC 151 – (also known as “The Devil’s Drop”) – Descends from the Blue Ridge Parkway through a steep section of tight hairpin curves that is cherished for the challenge. Some people rave about this road, but I can’t give it a red  “best road” rating on my America Rides Maps. The twisty section is good, but too short. Most of NC 151 rolls across open valley with average views. It ends when it meets US 19 and the suburbs.
  • Newfound Road – Newfound Road runs from Canton to Leicester. It’s a popular ride that courses through long open valleys with a short but tight curvy section in the middle. It’s a good ride, views are mostly average. On my America Rides Maps Newfound Road does not get any favorable rating.
Photo-section of Hookers Gap Road

The west end of Hookers Gap Road is the best.

Newfound Road gets a lot of  motorcycle traffic as it connects to NC 63 in Leicester. To the east, NC 63 leads into Asheville,  but many riders go west on NC 63. Within a few miles, the road starts a climb to the top of a mountain that winds through a tight series of switchback curves. The long descent down the west side of the mountain leads to a junction with NC 209 (a.k.a. “The Rattler”) near the midpoint of it’s run to Hot Springs or Junaluska at Trust.

Description:

A motorcycle ride on Hookers Gap Road is most easily navigated from the south end. Come down NC 151 from the Blue Ridge Parkway to the traffic light at the junction with US 19. Continue through the traffic light on Dogwood Road. Follow west then veer left onto Pole Creek Road. It will become Hookers Gap Road. It ends at Newfound Road. Distance: 7.4 miles.

To find Hookers Gap Road from Newfound Road,  watch for the “+” (crossroad) sign on the north side of the curvy section of Newfound Road. There is no sign for Hookers Gap Road, but there is one across the street for Morgan Branch Road, the western continuation of Hookers Gap Road from Newfound Road.

Image - Section of America Rides Maps shows Hookers Gap Rd.

Section of America Rides Maps shows Hookers Gap Rd.

Hookers Gap Road keeps you out of the congestion and traffic on I-40 and busy US 19 and it’s one of the most challenging rides in the area.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer

Total Rider Tech Logo

Learn Total Control

– 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

Wayne is an advanced motorcycle instructor for Total Rider Tech teaching Lee Parks Total Control Advanced Rider Courses. It’s time you looked into advanced rider training to ride more confidently and safely, it will change your mountain riding experience. It worked so well for me I became an instructor! Total Rider Tech

_______________________________________________________________________________

You’ll find Hookers Gap Rd and some of the best motorcycle rides in this outstanding area along with a guide to more than a dozen roadside waterfalls on America Rides Maps “The Best Motorcycle Rides EAST of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Share

Motorcycle Friendly – Tapoco Lodge @ The Tail of the Dragon

Photo-Tapoco Lodge Sign

The Tapoco Lodge

The most luxurious and convenient motorcycle friendly lodging nearest the Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap, the Tapoco Lodge is historic, unique, classy, and about as close to The Dragon as you can stay.

Greg McCoy from SportBikes4Hire.com had often mentioned the fine dining at the Tapoco Lodge near the Dragon at Deals Gap, but I’d never stopped in to check it out. Honestly, it’s so close to the Tail of the Dragon, I usually blast right past it enjoying the curves on this section of US 129. This week I had the chance to pay a visit and I was impressed with what I found.

Photo-Tapoco-Dam

The Cheoah Dam - a.k.a. "The Fugitive" Dam, where Harrison Ford's character takes the big leap in the movie "The Fugitive".

The Tapoco Lodge was built in the 1930’s by the Alcoa Corporation which was subsequently involved in building the many power generating dams along the Tennessee River to provide power for the aluminum plants in Maryville and Knoxville, Tennessee. At one time as many as 2000 people lived in the area working both in construction of the many dams nearby and substantial timber operations in the surrounding mountains. What is now the Tapoco Lodge saw service as a hospital, theater, residential and operations headquarters for the company, and you’ll find the lodge filled and adorned with historic artifacts from this era.

Photo-The-Tapoco-Lodge

The Tapoco Lodge - exclusive, luxurious, AND motorcycle friendly

Visting today, there is little evidence of the thousands of people who lived and worked here in those times past. As the many dams were completed the lakes which formed behind them submerged the roads, railroads, and small communities, and the area seems remote and isolated, pristine and natural, as if it all never happened save the dams which and lakes which remain as a legacy and still generate power.

Riding through the area you may come across the Chillowhee Dam on US 129 north of The Dragon, the Santeetlah Dam just north of Robbinsville, the Calderwood Dam viewed from the popular overlook at the Tennessee end of The Dragon, but the most impressive and notable are the Fontana Dam on NC 28 (a.k.a. The Moonshiner 28) and the Cheoah Dam just up the road from the lodge.

Photo-historic-gas-station-at-Tapoco-Lodge

Visiting the historic Tapoco Lodge is like visiting a living museum!

The Fontana Dam is one of the highest and most impressive, and is a popular stop for riders in the area. The Cheoah Dam is commonly referred to as “the Fugitive Dam” as it was the structure Harrison Ford’s character in the movie “The Fugitive” jumped from (the movie was shot in the surrounding area).

As operations in the area wound down, the Tapoco Lodge property transferred to private ownership and for many years after was used as a corporate retreat center for the company and others. In 2010, it was sold to the current owners who have renovated, upgraded, and restored  the property to a glorious and historic lodge with outstanding accommodations and fine dining in an exclusive setting.

photo-tapoco-lodge-interior view

History surrounds you at the Tapoco Lodge

Unfortunately my untimely visit happened just as the Tapoco Lodge was shutting down operations for the year. I’ve not yet had the opportunity to sample the sumptuous 5 course dinner at Jasper’s Restaraunt ($44 per plate, reservations required) nor the more casual fare in served in the Slickrock Riverside Grill. I trust Greg’s recommendations the food matches the quality of the rest of the establishment.

Photo-Jaspers-Restaraunt-at-Tapoco-Lodge

A quick peek at Jasper's Restaurant

Nor have I had the opportunity to enjoy the luxurious rooms, though I did get the quick tour of the lodge and they are outstanding. I passed on the opportunity to see the cabins this time.

Photo-the-bar-at-the-Tapoco-Lodge

A treat in a dry county! Save me a seat.

I’m particularly interested in the very comfortable looking bar, a unique feature in the last dry county in the State of North Carolina. It looked well stocked and I noted a good variety of wines. I love having a comfy place to enjoy a libation after a hard days riding and this bar will serve the purpose well.

Photo-room-at-Tapoco-Lodge

Spacious and comfortable rooms

I’m really looking forward to a stay at the Tapoco Lodge as it’s the ideal location for riding some of the best motorcycle rides in North Carolina and Tennessee. it’s on the popular Cherohala Skyway / Tail of the Dragon loop ride. Roll out the driveway, and you’re on the ride.

photo-Tapoco-Lodge-view-of-river

Enjoy sitting along the Cheoah River which flows beside the Tapoco Lodge

They are already booking groups for next year, it’s an ideal location for gatherings and they can accommodate a lot of people. Initially, the price of a stay seems high, but once you factor in the cost  of the 5 course dinner and cooked to order all-you-can-eat breakfast, which are included in your room cost, it works out to be an affordable way to enjoy a luxurious, convenient, and comfortable stay in the area.

You won’t find better food, you won’t find anything like it for accommodations, and you don’t have to ride to the next county to enjoy a cold brew at the end of the day.

 The Tapoco Lodge

_______________________________________________________________________________

Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer

Total Rider Tech Logo

Learn Total Control

– 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

Wayne is an advanced motorcycle instructor for Total Rider Tech teaching Lee Parks Total Control Advanced Rider Courses. It’s time you looked into advanced rider training to ride more confidently and safely, it will change your mountain riding experience. It worked so well for me I became an instructor! Total Rider Tech

_______________________________________________________________________________

 I’ll be adding The Tapoco Lodge to America Rides Maps Map #7 – Best Motorcycle Rides SOUTH of GSMNPMap #8 – Best Motorcycle Rides NORTH of GSMNP and map – 12 Classic Deals Gap Motorcycle Rides
Share

Ride the Dragon Like a Girl!

A short video of a woman motorcycle rider showing the boys how to ride the Dragon like a girl.

Ride The Dragon Like a Girl!

Location: North Carolina / Tennessee border at Deals Gap

Chasing a Lady Dragon Slayer on the Tail of the Dragon. This girl could ride. Starts at the Calderwood Dam overlook at the Tennessee end.

http://youtu.be/XEG-AvXjOg8

I’ve been updating the Motorcycle Ride Videos Page here at Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider. I was out at the Dragon at Deals Gap this week when I met this young lady Dragon Slayer who took us on a run through the curves. It was a lot of fun and this girl can ride!

Lots more motorcycle ride videos in the works, check back!

_______________________________________________________________________________

Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer

 

– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed, 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
 
Share