The Smoky Mountains of the Blue Ridge aren’t waiting for the official arrival of the solstice – winter time is pretty much here and now. Last week was messy, wrapping up with a deluge of rain. When the weather broke a little yesterday, I finally got out to do some motorcycle riding. I waited for the sun to get high enough to minimize any icy patches on the road, then set out on a cold and mostly overcast day. It’s good that I did. It looks like we’re in for a cold wet stretch of dismal gray skies and the constant threat of rain or snow over the next few days. It’s hardly the kind of winter weather that inspires one to go dashing over the river and through the woods on your motorcycle no matter how much Grandma wants to see you. When the skies clear, you shouldn’t chance missing the opportunity to get out and ride. The good riding days will be more and more rare.
I spent the afternoon prospecting for great motorcycle rides near Hendersonville, Mountain Home, Pisgah Forest, and Mills River. I’d not paid this area much attention before as it was not a piece of real estate previously included in one of my motorcycle maps. There’s relatively high traffic and congestion around here and I tend to avoid going through, but I’m already thinking about the Asheville Bikefest in the spring and I want to become more knowledgable of this nearby area. It turns out there are a number of nice roads passing through it and I managed to locate and explore several good new ones I can now recommend as more enjoyable alternatives to the main roads.
Located south and slightly west of Asheville, the mountains in this area are not as high as those to the north in the Pisgah Forest. There are a number of rivers which flow through here, some farmland, a few high end neighborhoods, and some rugged and forested areas like the Dupont Forest with it’s many waterfalls. I -26 runs north-south just a few miles east and the border with South Carolina in only minutes away. It’s a pretty area, but the mountains of the Pisgah Forest and the Blue Ridge Parkway to the north overshadow it.
The areas I have left to scout for this map revision (in progress) are scattered across 4 states. I’ve still got to press a little further into South Carolina then sweep west into the corner of Georgia to look at one potentially good road. The bulk of the remaining riding is in Tennessee, just north of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I’ll need two really good days to thoroughly re-explore that area.
If the weather doesn’t break soon, I’ll start working on the next map, the companion to this one. I’ve got plenty to occupy my time. Still, I’d rather be out riding.