Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway – Tips; Tame the Tunnels

Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway – Tips; Tame the Tunnels

Danger or delight? With 26 tunnels on the Blue Ridge Parkway the experience of rolling under a mountain is common. Most are short, and in many  you can see the light at the other side. Still, every one is dark and if you’re riding along in the bright sunlight with your sunglasses on, the sudden plunge into darkness can momentarily blind you. Here are some observations and tips -

Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway  Tips - Taming the Tunnels

Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway Tips – Taming the Tunnels – the contrast can momentarily blind you

Know where they are – there’s only one in Virginia at MP 53.1 approaching the James River area. The remaining 25 are in North Carolina. A few are near Little Switzerland, but there are two areas to really plan for them – climbing from the French Broad River in Asheville to Mt. Pisgah, and descending from Soco Gap at Maggie Valley to Cherokee. You’ll hit 9 or so in sequence as you climb or descend from the highest section of the Parkway which lies between these points. If you are coming into one of these sections and the tunnels are a problem for you, it may be time to go without the sunglasses through here.

Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway  Tips - Taming the Tunnels

Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway Tips – Taming the Tunnels – It’s pretty easy to just follow the lights, but give plenty of room. The first guy is doing all the work. Be ready for the unexpected.

Use your lights , all of them – motorcycles are required to burn headlights at all times in North Carolina, but even so, they may not do the job in these dark tunnels. Flip on the brights. That will help light up the reflectors along the wall.

Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway  Tips - Taming the Tunnels

Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway Tips – Taming the Tunnels – Tunnels need a lot of maintenance. Slow down when the workers are there.

Watch for hazards - Keep alert for bicycles. They too are required to have lights on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but they won’t be as bold as on a vehicle. Watch for those dim flashing red strobes at the side of the road. Also keep an eye out for wet spots which are common in the tunnels. Cars often slow a bit when in the tunnels, expect it.

Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway  Tips - Taming the Tunnels

Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway Tips – Taming the Tunnels – Be alert for bicycles in the tunnels.

Don’t look down - The tunnels are not only dark, but they curve. You need to keep your eyes ahead. Pay attention to the wall of the tunnel where your brights will illuminate a piece of it ahead of you. It will guide you through.

Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway  Tips - Taming the Tunnels

Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway Tips – Taming the Tunnels – even the short ones often have wet spots, debris, and other things to watch for. In cold weather be wary of ice.

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wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

Wayne Busch

- 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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Wayne is an advanced motorcycle instructor for Total Rider Tech teaching Lee Parks Total Control Advanced Rider Courses. Isn’t it time you looked into advanced rider training to ride more confidently and safely? It can transform your mountain riding experience.  Total Rider Tech

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Blue Ridge Parkway Motorcycle – Fall Leaf Color

Blue Ridge Parkway Motorcycle – Fall Leaf Color, October 12, 2012
South section, Asheville to Cherokee

Blue Ridge Parkway Motorcycle - Fall leaf color

Blue Ridge Parkway Motorcycle – Fall leaf color; While the leaves have dropped some at the highest points, plenty remains just a little lower.

For bikers riding the Blue Ridge Parkway by motorcycle this year, it’s been another good fall showing of fall leaf color. The weather has been a bit “iffy” at times, but that’s not uncommon during this transitional period of the year.

Blue Ridge Parkway Motorcycle - Fall leaf color;

Blue Ridge Parkway Motorcycle – Fall leaf color; Even where some leaf loss has occurred, the views are still outstanding. Late in the day the golden sunlight really sets them off!

Friday, the colors were just getting near their peak at the highest elevations. A cold front over the weekend brought some wind and rain lingered into the week. Unfortunately the leaves were stripped in many exposed areas. Still, there is plenty remaining to make a motorcycle tour worth the time and effort.

Blue Ridge Parkway Motorcycle - Fall leaf color;

Blue Ridge Parkway Motorcycle – Fall leaf color; plenty of color yet to come at the lower elevations throughout the mountains. It usually lasts well into November.

Above 5000 ft. some color remains, but the real show now is a little further down. You’ll find excursions off the Blue Ridge Parkway onto the many great connecting motorcycle rides still yielding a spectacular view of natures glory.

Blue Ridge Parkway Motorcycle - Fall leaf color;

Blue Ridge Parkway Motorcycle – Fall leaf color; The lower elevations are just beginning to show the full spectrum of all the hues of the leafy rainbow.

Don’t miss opportunities to get off onto the back roads where there are some outstanding displays of not only great leaf color, but beautiful mountain scenes that reward the wanderer year-round.  AmericaRidesMaps.com will help you find them!

NC 215 fall leaf color - motorcycle rides nc

NC 215 fall leaf color – motorcycle rides nc – NC 215 has currently got some great shows of color as well as the scores of roads shown on America Rides Maps in the surrounding area. Be sure to check them out!

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wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

Wayne Busch

- 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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Learn Total Control

Wayne is an advanced motorcycle instructor for Total Rider Tech teaching Lee Parks Total Control Advanced Rider Courses. Isn’t it time you looked into advanced rider training to ride more confidently and safely? It can transform your mountain riding experience.  Total Rider Tech

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Blue Ridge Parkway 2013 Detour Map for Motorcycles

Blue Ridge Parkway 2013 Detour Map for Motorcycles

Location: North Carolina, Milepost 358, 2.6 miles south of NC 128 / Mt. Mitchell State Park.

Blue Ridge Parkway Detour 2012 - 2013 - View from Craggy Gardens Overlook

Blue Ridge Parkway Detour 2012 – 2013 – Amazingly clear skies from the Craggy Gardens Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It can still be accessed from the south. That brown stripe in the distance in I-26 more than 22 miles distant. Visibility must have been nearly 50 miles this day.

Schedule:

  • Road open both lanes until 9/26/12
  • 9/26/12 – 10/01/12One lane closed. Temporary traffic lights for one way traffic
  • 10/01/12 – April, 2013 6.5 miles of road closed, use detour

> Access Mt. Mitchell State Park from north (NC 80 crossover)

> Access Craggy Gardens from south (Asheville /  Weaverville exits)

A short stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway will be closed November 1, 2012 through April 2013 to stabilize a failing slope. I’ve been watching this spot in the road as it has subsided over the past couple years. It involves all of the north bound lane and a portion of the southbound lane, and it’s very noticeable dip when riding through.

On or about September 26, Temporary traffic lights will stagger one way traffic through the work area, expect short to moderate delays. Gates above the Craggy Gardens Picnic Area and just south of NC 128 to Mt Mitchell State Park will be closed November 1 to isolate it for the construction.

Blue Ridge Parkway Road Closure 2012 - 2013

Blue Ridge Parkway Road Closure 2012 – 2013 – Temporary trffic lights like this one will regulate the flow when one lane is closed this week.

The Official Blue Ridge Parkway Detour exits at NC 226 at Spruce Pine, following it south to NC 221 then west on I-40 to reconnect in Asheville at the US 70 intersection.

I suggest those motorcycle riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway continue south and exit the Blue Ridge Parkway at NC 80. NC 80 a.k.a the “Devils Whip plunges down from the heights through a series of switchbacks, then a nice long curvy section takes you to the junction with US 70 at a traffic light. Follow US 70 east through Old Fort and connect to I-40 West.

Blue Ridge Parkway closure 2013 map

Blue Ridge Parkway closure 2013 map – Click on map for full sized version. Prints on a standard sheet of paper.

Print a copy free from a .pdf file here: http://smokymountainrider.com/Downloads/parkway-closure-2013.pdf

The Official Blue Ridge Parkway detour will have you connecting to the south end via US 70 east of Asheville via Exit 55 on I-40.  I recommend you go to the next I-40 Exit #53 at the junction with US 74A. The connection here is much shorter, no traffic lights, and you won’t miss anything scenic on the Parkway.

You’ll find these roads on America Rides Maps motorcycle pocket map #5 – The Best  Roads North and South of Asheville, NC along with another 40 or so outstanding rides in the surrounding area.

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wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

Wayne Busch

- 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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Learn Total Control

Wayne is an advanced motorcycle instructor for Total Rider Tech teaching Lee Parks Total Control Advanced Rider Courses. Isn’t it time you looked into advanced rider training to ride more confidently and safely? It can transform your mountain riding experience.  Total Rider Tech

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RoadRunner Magazine Event in Maggie Valley – the Wet and the Wild

RoadRunner Magazine Event in Maggie Valleythe Wet and the Wild

I’ve posted in the past how I’m not much of a motorcycle rally kind of guy. I’ve just witnessed an event that’s my ideal of what one should be – all about the ride.

RoadRUNNER event in Maggie Valley

RoadRUNNER event in Maggie Valley – 8 AM start, pouring rain, day after day.  The riders took it in stride and came out to spend the full days riding in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Picture this – you come to Maggie Valley, NC and check in to your motel. The next morning there are rides scheduled leaving every 10 minutes from 8 AM till 9:30 AM or so.

Choose a loop ride you’d like to do. Pick the kind of riders you’re looking to ride with – i.e., a leisure ride, an adventure ride, etc.

RoadRUNNER Magazine Event in Maggie Valley

RoadRUNNER Magazine Event in Maggie Valley – Choose a loop ride you’d like to do. Choose the pace of the ride you’d find comfortable. Follow the guides. So easy.

The rides are some of the best you may ever experience. The faster groups have additional side loops added in as a bonus. They use some of my best and favorite back roads and people raved about riding these unknown great North Carolina and Tennessee motorcycle roads.

Ride all day. Lunch is arranged along the way. When you get back in the evening, a huge tent awaits with a great meal.

RoadRUNNER event in Maggie Valley

RoadRUNNER event in Maggie Valley – You can see the big tent in the background where dinner is served while riders assemble for their respective groups in the morning.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

T-shirt, hat, all provided and prizes to boot, don’t need to deal with vendors. Very few there anyway, everyone is out riding all day and the fairgrounds is deserted.

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I don’t know about you, but this is my dream of what a motorcycle event should be – ride, ride, ride!

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The location was ideal. Rooms are plentiful and affordable. Maggie Valley, NC sits on the south side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is the hub of the best motorcycle rides in the Smoky Mountains. My big map of this area shows more than 150 outstanding motorcycle roads.

The people who came, around 200 of them, came to ride. The weather could have been much better – after about 2 weeks of hot and dry weather in the Smoky Mountains, the moisture returned with a vengeance. It didn’t seem to matter – these riders donned the gear and took it in stride with hardly a whimper.

RoadRUNNER Magazine Event in Maggie Valley - Rental bikes of all sorts were available

RoadRUNNER Magazine Event in Maggie Valley – Rental bikes of all sorts were available – dual-sport / cruisers / sport bikes / sport touring bikes. I got a KLR 650 from GSMmotoRent.com for the dual-sport adventure ride.

I got to tag along on the dual-sport ride on a bike provided by GSMmotoRent.com. Lt. Dan led us on 100 miles of unpaved riding through the national forests and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was more fun than I’ve had in a long time. I’ll have a post soon which will tell that tale and show the great photos.

RoadRUNNER Event in Maggie Valley

RoadRUNNER Event in Maggie Valley – There are so many roads to ride – paved and unpaved. Ride to the mountain tops, the waterfalls, and the places most riders never see.

It’s the easiest motorcycle vacation you’ll ever make“just show up and ride”. You can spend all-day every-day riding and return to a god hot meal each evening and a nice Asheville craft brew.

RoadRUNNER Magazine event in Maggie Valley - the adventure ride

RoadRUNNER Magazine event in Maggie Valley – the dual-sport adventure ride was a blast!

For more information, subscribe to RoadRUNNER Magazine herehttps://www.roadrunner.travel/order/subscription - the best motorcycle magazine for the dedicated motorcycle tourer.

For online info, go to http://www.roadrunner.travel/, and don’t forget to LIKE them on Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/RoadRUNNERmag.

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wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

Wayne Busch

- 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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Learn Total Control

Wayne is an advanced motorcycle instructor for Total Rider Tech teaching Lee Parks Total Control Advanced Rider Courses. Isn’t it time you looked into advanced rider training to ride more confidently and safely? It can transform your mountain riding experience.  Total Rider Tech

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Great Motorcycle Rides North Carolina – The Rattler Motorcycle Map

Great Motorcycle Rides North Carolina – The Rattler Motorcycle Map

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - NC 209, a.k.a. "The Rattler".

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - NC 209, a.k.a. "The Rattler". Do it as an out-and-back or make a nice loop ride - one of many ways to go on this great biker road

The Rattler Motorcycle Ride is one of the great motorcycle rides in North Carolina and is one to include in your Blue Ridge Parkway motorcycle adventure.

So you already know about the great motorcycle rides in the Smoky Mountains, maybe you’ve made a motorcycle tour of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

You’ve already tasted the Tail of the Dragon (if it didn’t take a bite out of you), and probably enjoyed the sweet curves of the Cherohala Skyway.

By now you realize there must be a ton of biker roads out there“So, WHAT’S NEXT?”

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - NC 209, a.k.a. "The Rattler" This is some of the best motorcycle riding you'll find in the world. These riders are looping back to NC 209 on NC 63.This is some of the best motorcycle riding you'll find in the world. These riders are looping back to NC 209 on NC 63.

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - NC 209, a.k.a. "The Rattler" - This is some of the best motorcycle riding you'll find in the world. These riders are looping back to NC 209 on NC 63.

Not one, but two motorcycle rides immediately spring to mind, so I flipped a coin. The Rattler won.

For years, this great motorcycle ride was well known amongst locals (and those in-the-know) as “209″ or “Hot Springs”. It’s one of the default, always-good motorcycle rides that you can do over and over again and enjoy it every time. A few years back, it got named “The Rattler“. I don’t know who started that, but it stuck, and you can buy T-shirts along the route – I guess it’s official.

The Rattler motorcycle ride takes you on a 30+ mile jaunt through the mountains and valleys north of Maggie Valley and Waynesville to the tiny town of Hot Springs near the Tennessee border.

Great Motorcycle Rides North Carolina - The Rattler

Great Motorcycle Rides North Carolina - The Rattler; Nice valley rides coursing along rushing streams, climbs over several mountain passes, and tight-tight twists as you approach Hot Springs

It’s a great “lunch ride” or “afternoon spin” as it only takes an hour or less to ride the twisty two lane. It’s also a “warm up” for those motorcycle touring fans who really know the area.

One you get to Hot Springs, you are surrounded with good motorcycle roads to choose from if you know where they hide.

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - NC 209 The Rattler

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - NC 209 The Rattler - pastoral views of mountain farms and creeks, winding passes through forests, and some of the most challenging tarmac you'll ride wait for you in North Carolina on The Ratterl

Ride Guide -
36 miles to Hot Springs - About 1 hour ride to hot springs.
98 miles to do loop ride shown - 1/2 day ride.

Route: 

Start: Exit 104 on Highway US 74. Lowes store at this exit. Pass under US 74. Follow NC 209 north.

3.7 mi Cross I-40 at Exit 24. It’s an easy ride through the valleys for a few miles.

11.9 mi Turn Right onto Betsy’s Creek Road to continue on NC 209. Ferguson’s store / gas marks this corner. Lots of signs.

22 mi Junction NC 63. Note and pass through. – Store and gas at this junction. Popular spot for a break, loop returns here.

36.6 mi NC 209 ends at Hot Springs. Return as you came or continue on loop ride.

To continue on loop ride - 

Pass through Hot Springs. Cross the French Broad River and follow US 25 for 5 miles. US 25 will reach a stop sign.

41.7 mi Turn right @ stop sign to continue on US 25 / 70 towards Asheville.

50.9 mi Veer right into Marshall on Main Street. Follow into town.

61.6 mi Turn right at the traffic light in the center of Marshall and cross the bridge over the French Broad River.

You are now on Bailey Branch Rd. It will become Meadows Town Road. Meadows Town Road ends in 10 miles at NC 63.

71.5 mi Turn Right @ stop sign and follow NC 63 to return to the mid point of NC 209.

85.5 mi Turn left @ stop sign onto NC 209 and follow back to Junaluska to finish the ride.

98.4 mi End of ride

Here’s a 10 minute video that takes you through the ride step-by-step

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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. Isn’t it time you looked into advanced rider training to ride more confidently and safely? It can transform your mountain riding experience.  Total Rider Tech

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Good Motorcycle Rides near Waynesville and Maggie Valley, NC

The last place I want to be riding a motorcycle is the 4-lane highway when there are so many good 2 lane back roads in North Carolina.

photo-turn-onto-candlestick-lane

Turn off the highway onto Candlestick Lane

For most motorcycle riders, covering the distance between Waynesville and Sylva means a relatively pleasant ride on four lane divided NC Highway 74 (The Great Smoky Mountains Expressway). As far as highways go, it is a nice ride winding down from Balsam Mountain and it rarely gets enough traffic to be annoying.

Lately though, I’ve been covering the relatively short distance on a few nice little back roads which I’ve grown very fond of. Since so many motorcycle touring riders pass through and stay in this area, I think they should know about them. If you’re riding near Cherokee, Maggie Valley, Waynesville, or Sylva, these roads may come in handy.

photo-turn-onto-cabin-flats

Next turn onto Cabin Flats Road.

Both ends meet the Highway (US 74). The Waynesville end starts near the Blue Ridge Parkway Exit for Waynesville (MP 443.1) where it intersects US 74. Pass under the parkway then exit left onto Candlestick Lane. It’s an obvious intersection, well marked, look for the signs to Balsam, Balsam Mountain Inn, Moonshine Creek Campground.

Candlestick Circle is just a short loop off the highway, turn right onto Cabin Flats Rd. Cabin Flats Road winds along the railroad tracks a short distance, then makes a hairpin turn across them.  Balsam Mountain Inn sits on the hill above.

photo-balsam-mountain-inn

The Balsam Mountain Inn – historic, good food

It’s been a long while side I last visited, but the historic inn (1905) is both scenic and the food used to be very, very, good. You can imagine it’s heyday when it was a stop on the tracks in the middle of nowhere.

Cabin Flats Road will morph into Dark Ridge Road and start a twisting course alongside a stream through the mountain passes. The railroad also follows this narrow valley and you’ll often see it off in the woods crossing the stream on bridges and trestles.

photo-Dark-Ridge-Rd

Dark Ridge Road – more fun than the 4 lane

Dark Ridge Road, the railroad, the highway, and the stream cross each other several times on the way to Sylva in a twisted mountain mess. You go under the highway, under the railroad, over the stream several times on the ride.

Dark Ridge Road meets Skyland Road at a stop sign just after you cross the railroad tracks. Turn left (the road quickly peters out if you go right).

photo-trestle-on-skyland-rd

Under the tracks on Skyland Rd

The first part of Skyland Road is nice and there are several good spots to stop and get a look at the now rushing whitewater stream.

The second half looses it’s appeal as it draws near Sylva and the suburbs of the town. You can follow the road all the way into Sylva. You may note the prominent fork right onto Chipper Curve Rd – it will bring you closer to downtown.

photo-creek

Whitewater Creek along Skyland Rd

You can hop on-off this ride at 2 points and get back on the highway. One of them is obvious, a mile or so after you get on Skyland Rd. The other, Steeple Road, is closer to Sylva and is the best way to get back on the highway without going into town. Precision Cycles and a BP station mark it at the highway.

map

Click on photos and map for larger views

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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. Isn’t it time you looked into advanced rider training to ride more confidently and safely? It can transform your mountain riding experience.  Total Rider Tech

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Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rides – 2 More Secrets Revealed

Two roads off NC 209, a.k.a. “The Rattler” add variety to motorcycle riding in this area and offer a diversion that makes things more interesting.

Photo-Meadow-Fork-Rd-View

A section of Meadow Fork Road which demonstrates the character of the curves through much of the ride.

Due to the short days of winter, the frosty and sometimes icy mornings, and more work than expected with the success of my most recent motorcycle ride map, I’ve had to content myself with rides close to home. I’ve published several recently like Hookers Gap, dissed Grapevine Rd, and shared photos of more of the local sites you’ll see out on your motorcycle rides on Facebook.

Photo-The-Rattler-Motorcycle-Ride

The 1.7 mile section of NC 209 which crosses the Spring Creek valley is the straightest road I can think of in western North Carolina. View approaching Caldwell Mountain Road

Here are two more I’ve kept in my pocket until recently and will now add to America Rides Maps Map #6 – The Best Motorcycle Rides EAST of Great Smoky Mountains National ParkCaldwell Mountain Road and Meadow Fork Road (these are already on the big map, are new to the pocket maps).

photo-NC209-The-Rattler-motorcycle-ride-campground-sign

Caldwell Mountain Rd is easy to find. Ride to the middle of the long straight stretch of NC 209 in Spring Creek. Look for the sign for Meadow Fork Campground.

Caldwell Mountain Road and Meadow Fork Road form a nice loop on the west side of NC 209 when joined together. The southern end of the loop starts near the mid point of “The Rattler“, about half way between Lake Junaluska and Hot Springs, just beyond Trust where NC 63 connects to NC 209. The north end of the loop connects to NC 209 just before it enters the really challenging section through the National Forest that leads into Hot Springs.

Photo-road-sign

The sign may be a little crooked, but so is Caldwell Mountain Rd .

If you are on a dual-sport or adventure bike, this is one way to access the great unpaved roads that lead up to Max Patch bald and wind all the way to I-40 on the eastern edge of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Both Meadow Fork and Caldwell Mountains Roads are paved, though if you miss the turn at the junction, you will run out of pavement before long on Meadow Fork Road.

Photo-Caldwell-Mountain_rd-motorcycle-ride

One of the few long range views on Caldwell Mountain Rd. You'll probably be looking at the road instead.

Both of these roads are easy to find from NC 209 , and their junction is well marked, so you should have little problems navigating them. It takes about 10 – 15 minutes to ride the 9.1 mile combined route.

Caldwell Mountain Road meets NC 209 right in the middle the run across the valley at Spring Creek. It’s an easy area to recognize as this 1.7 mile section of NC 209 across the valley is the longest stretch of arrow-straight road you’ll find in the area. There is a prominent sign for the Meadow Fork Campground which marks the junction.

Photo-Motorcycle-Ride-Meadow-Fork

Never far from the edge of the roaring creek, Meadow Fork Road twists through steep rocky hill sides and small valleys and coves.

Caldwell Mountain Road then makes a twisty 2.1 mile climb from the valley up what I’m betting is Caldwell Mountain. There are some nice curves, long range views are rare, pavement is a little bumpy in places, but generally pretty good overall.

Photo-motorcycle -ride-meadow-fork-rd

There are some very pleasant views along Meadow Fork Road and lots of places to pause and enjoy it.

Meadow Fork Road follows the Roaring Fork river from NC 209 as it carves through the mountains for 7 miles to reach the junction with Caldwell Mountain Road – again, if you miss this turn, Meadow Fork goes unpaved within a few miles. The road  traces the bank of the river, so it is a nice curvy motorcycle ride for the most part.

Photo-junction-NC-209-Meadow-fork-rd

The junction of Meadow Fork Rd and NC 209 is easy to spot though it may come up on you quickly as you come around a curve on either side.

Neither road has scenery you’ll be framing on the wall, though in general it’s pretty nice with small remote and isolated coves and valleys, the whitewater river along the road, and lots of hundred year old barns and the like.

Photo-start-of-Meadow-Fork-Rd

Just a peek down Meadow Fork Road shows what lies ahead.

This little side loop off NC 209 lets you add a nice diversion in what is often done as an out-and-back route without adding a significant amount of time to the fun.

photo-junction-meadow-fork-caldwell-mountain

The junction of Meadow Fork Rd and Caldwell Mountain Rd is easy to spot, so navigation of this ride is easy and you can focus on enjoying the roads.

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

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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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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.

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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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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

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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

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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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 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
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Motorcycle Friendly Places – Waynesville, NC

Got to plug my home town. There’s also a reason I live here – the best motorcycle riding in the world is in my back yard. Shot this video early this summer.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7jOE6EgZbQ

_______________________________________________________________________________

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 NC 215 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

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