Scenic Motorcycle Rides – Dry Falls, NC

The beautiful region south of Great Smoky Mountains National Park is often called “The Land of the Waterfalls” and is one of the most popular areas to ride on a motorcycle.  More than 20 nice waterfalls are located close to the roadside, another 40 or so require more serious hiking than most bikers are willing or equipped to tackle.

photo-Dry-Falls

A path leads behind Dry Falls so you can pass beneath it without getting wet.

Dry Falls is one of the most unique though it’s an easy one to miss on your motorcycle ride despite being well marked. It’s easy to miss as it’s not directly visible from the road so you’re not tempted off the wonderfully curvy section of US 64 as it snakes through the spectacular Cullasaja Gorge between Franklin and Highlands.

This section of US 64 can be a very enjoyable ride on a motorcycle, though it’s too often hampered by other traffic drawn to see the sights and wonders. On those typical days when there is a good amount on traffic on the road, it’s definitely worth the time to stop for a break and make the short walk from the parking area to admire Dry Falls.

image-map-of-waterfalls

Dry Falls got it’s name because you can walk beneath the falls without getting wet. A large cavern beneath the rock ledge at the top of the falls has a path where you can pass behind the cascade to emerge on the other side. It has the largest and best improved parking area of all the falls in the area, so it’s an easy place to stop and enjoy.

 

image Great Smokies south map coverFind more than a dozen roadside waterfalls on America Rides Maps map #7The Best Roads SOUTH of Great Smoky Mountain National Park

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Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer

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– 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

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Just minding my own business? Not on a motorcycle!

Minding your own business while riding a motorcycle is a recipe for disaster!

“I was just riding along, minding my own business, when this cager came over into my lane and nearly hit me!” How often do you hear this said?

photo-when riding in traffic, ride to be seen.

When riding in traffic, ride to be seen.

Too often, if you ask me. It’s usually followed by a rant on how cars don’t look out for bikers and how stupid drivers are for not being more aware of motorcycles and tales of kicking doors, breaking mirrors, and other aggressive retaliation schemes by “some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet”.

Fault is always assigned to the auto driver, and it is with some justification, drivers should be more aware of their surroundings and pay more attention. But the saying is “it’s a two way street” and fault goes both ways. I never hear the motorcyclist taking any responsibility for what occurred. They were just riding along “minding their own business”.

“Minding your own business” on motorcycle is a recipe for disaster. If you’re not minding everyone else’s business out on the road, and actively working to insure you are always seen, that recipe can bake you some humble pie and a big plate of hurt.

Whenever I hear those “he came into my lane tales” I first wonder “Why did you let that happen?” You ride in a drivers blind spot and then get all bent out of shape when he doesn’t see you?

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DON'T ride in the blind spots.

The remedy is to ride to be seen and pay attention to where you are positioned. Don’t ride in the drivers blind spot. Either fall back and give him room or roll on a little throttle and move ahead so you are clearly visible.

Assume and expect you are not seen, that other traffic will behave like you’re not there and ride accordingly. Mind what that driver nearby is doing. Watch their mirrors, where they are looking, the movement of their head as they glance up to check the review mirror or glance left or right. It can signal their intentions and alert you something is about to happen. You should always be watching for it.

Also keep an eye on what’s going on ahead of both you AND the car nearby. Slower traffic ahead in their lane or a flash of brake lights in the vehicle ahead of them means they may take quick and evasive action that involves the space you are occupying.

Above all, stay out of those blind spots. Recognize when you are in these danger zones and move out of them as quickly as possible. Minimize your time at most risk. When you find yourself alongside another vehicle you should be taking action to move out of the situation – that is what minding your own business should mean on a motorcycle. Drop back or move ahead.

If you’re going to ride in traffic you’ve got to both ride to be seen and assume you’re not.

Ok, so this is “Motorcycling 101”, everybody knows this stuff. Yet on any day you can visit a forum or social networking site and read scores of posts about how “some car came into my lane”. Knowing it is one thing. Apparently applying that knowledge is something we need to work on. Don’t let it happen to you!

Here’s a great site for more detailed review. http://www.motorcyclebasics.com/blind-spots.html

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Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer

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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

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Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway – in January?

I should be in Vegas – luck is with me today. Although the weather has been unseasonably warm here in the Smoky Mountains this week, it’s also been wet. Not that “Old Testament” deluge kind of wet, but a wintery wet with light but persistent rains.

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A winter view of Cold Mountain from the Blue Ridge Parkway near Mt. Pisgah.

In a normal year we’d have a bit of white on the ground, and I did see a rare patch or two today. It’s not the ideal season for motorcycling the Blue Ridge Parkway. In fact, the Blue Ridge Parkway is normally closed to traffic through this season due to the frigid conditions.

When I saw the sun this morning I knew a motorcycle ride was in order. There’s a weather front passing over with a few hours of blue sky before the snow moves in tonight. I wrapped up the mornings work and fired up the bike.

Photo-wayne-on-parkway

The weather looked great to the south, what a difference the other direction.

I just wanted a nice little ride. The threatening clouds on the northern horizon foretold this break in the weather was temporary, so I chose to just head south from Waynesville on US 276 and ride up to the Blue Ridge Parkway and back after running a few errands in town.

US 276 is a well know road to motorcycle riders and part of a classic loop called the “Pisgah Triangle” south of Waynesville. US 276 forms one leg of the triangle, the Blue Ridge Parkway the second, and NC 215 the third. It’s a “must do” fun ride if you’re in the Waynesville / Maggie Valley area.

photo-winter-view-blue-ridge-parkway

Winter riding in the Smoky Mountains can be as beautiful as the summer, just in a different way.

It takes about 25 minutes to ride out across Bethel Valley then follow the Big East Fork of the Pigeon River in the Pisgah National Forest and make the steep and twisting climb to the heights of the Blue Ridge Parkway at the Wagon Road Gap. The ramp to the Blue Ridge Parkway leads to the large parking area  overlooking Cold Mountain  (MP 412.2).

The overlook is accessible year-round. The parkway is gated on either side. The south gate (towards Cherokee) was closed, but the north gate to Mt. Pisgah was open so I took advantage of the opportunity to snap a few photos.

photo-clouds-on-the-blue-ridge-parkway

By the time I turned back, those clouds had swallowed up everything.

The blue skies didn’t last long, and by the time I had turned around nearing Asheville, the clouds were swallowing the views. The wind was gusting and I started to hit some wet stuff on the way back. Some of it was white.

It was a rare treat this time of year. Next time you’re passing through, take a motorcycle ride on the Pisgah Triangle. I had a great time on just one leg of it, and the other two are better!

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A postcard from Haywood County, North Carolina shows the Pisgah Triangle

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Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer

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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

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Great Motorcycle Ride Rivals the Tail of the Dragon

You hear a lot of folks say “I know of roads better than the Tail of the Dragon, but I, like you, am often doubtful of such claims.

The Dragon at Deals Gap is pretty much the benchmark motorcycle ride to measure and compare to. There are darned good reasons the Tail of the Dragon is legendary. But what about those other roads?

Photo - Start of ride on south end

This abandoned gas station/store on Banner Elk Highway (SR 194) alerts you to the start of the ride. The road is just beyond it.

Here’s one I really enjoy, Beech Mountain / Flat Springs Road. I won’t claim it’s better than the Dragon, but it ranks right up there.

The pavement is not as good in places. There are connecting roads and driveways so you’ve got to ride alert, watch for gravel and sand at those connections and in tight turns. There are no motorcycle resorts at either end. Still, Beech Mountain Road is an excellent, challenging , and fun ride.

Photo - view from road

View of what I think is Roan Mountain. It's not the rare views that make Beech Mountain / Flat Springs Roads good, it's the ride.

This great motorcycle ride is labeled as Beech Mountain Road on the south side of Beech Mountain, then becomes Flat Springs Road once you start descending the north side of the mountain.

Grades are steeper than the Dragon but generally mild. It’s a bit longer. Best of all it’s a road I use to bypass traffic and avoid going through large towns and the city of Boone.

I use it often when I’m headed up to Tennessee and Virginia to ride The Snake and the great roads nearby, and it’s also in the neighborhood of Roan Mountain and the Murder Mountain Ride. It’s a good one to know about and add to your list of great back roads.

Image - Map shows location of Beech Mountain Road

Beech Mountain / Flat Springs Road help you avoid all the traffic to the east.

So how does it stack up?

I was going through my video files one day and found two that were nearly identical. Same camera angle. Same bike. A complete ride through both roads. So I matched them up side by side to see how the roads compare in a contest. The outcome was surprising!

 

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Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer

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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

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Nice Motorcycle Ride Near Maggie Valley, North Carolina

The locals know this good biker road well. Shouldn’t you?

Hard to believe Jan 1, 2012, and we’re out for a spin on the bikes. Unusually warm, the day also brought some showers so we kept our ride short and local. As we’re pretty much surrounded by great motorcycle rides here in the Waynesville / Maggie Valley area, even those short rides can be a lot of fun.

photo-jackie-on-rabbit-skin-road

Jackie welcomes the New Year with a ride on Rabbit Skin Road. Nice curves, nice views, it’s a local favorite.

Rabbit Skin Road is easy to find. From Waynesville / Maggie Valley, head north on US 276 across the broad expanse of Jonathan Valley as it skirts the edge of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The top of the ridge line to the west is the park border. To the north you’ll see more impressive mountains including 6000 Max Patch Bald. Even though it’s a long straight stretch of 4 lane, US 276 is a scenic and relaxing ride and a good chance to get settled on the bike before the challenge that is soon to come.

US 276 ends at the intersection with Interstate 40 at Exit 20. Pass under the Interstate as if you are continuing north to Tennessee and look for Rabbit Skin Road on the right before you head up the ramp to the highway.

This video includes some shots of the bridge where the roads meet

Rabbit Skin Road is one of several very challenging and scenic motorcycle rides through the mountains which lie north of Waynesville / Lake Junaluska / and Maggie Valley. It’s only 3.5 miles in length, but it doesn’t really end, it just continues on as Iron Duff Road for another 4.1 miles before it connects to NC 209 (a.k.a. The Rattler) near Exit 24 on Interstate 40.

The junction of Rabbit Skin Road and Iron Duff Road occurs at a bridge which crosses the Pigeon River. Across the river, are two more good motorcycle rides, Riverside Road and Panther Creek Road. Still more good motorcycle rides link to them.

While none of these roads is very long, all of them are scenic and fun to ride, and they interconnect. They are good toknow about when you have only a short time available to get in a motorcycle ride or are darting out for a cruise between rainy spells. If you know where they are, you can just keep linking roads together and spend a couple hours looping through the mountains and never leave the county nor ride the same one twice.

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Rabbit Skin Road and Iron Duff Road – Local Favorites

 

All Roads Lead to Maggie

The Rattler

America Rides Maps Map #6 – The Best Motorcycle Rides EAST of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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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

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