Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – A sport bike loop

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – A sport bike loop ride

When I’m looking for a “dragon like” challenge close to home, this 90 mile loop satisfies every time!

Section of NC 215 near Lake Logan.

Section of NC 215 near Lake Logan. You’ll find some nice scenery on the popular road. The curves so far are just a warm up for what lies ahead.

As much as I enjoy a ride on the infamous Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap, it’s a bit of a ride to get out to it from the Waynesville / Maggie Valley area where I live. Fortunately, there are ample challenging roads nearby, and when I really want a peg-scraping ride, this is one of my favorite local loops. For those on sport bikes, it’s a must-do when you are in the area.

The higher you go the better it gets on NC 215.

The higher you go the better it gets on NC 215. The road crests where it meets the Blue Ridge Parkway, then plunges down the other side of the gap.

The map originates in the small crossroads town of Bethel, NC south of Waynesville, Canton, Maggie Valley, and Junaluska. It can also be done as a side loop off the Blue Ridge Parkway (exit at Beech Gap, MP 423.3, NC 215 – cuts 36 miles off the route).

Descending from the Blue Ridge Parkway on NC 215

The curves continue as you descend from the Blue Ridge Parkway with a brief break when you enter a valley. The curves that follow really kick it up!

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Length: 90 miles plus your ride to the start in Bethel, NC.
Ride time: 3-4 hours
Difficulty: Very challenging, tight curves, climbs and descents, sustained, varied road surfaces, all paved

Photo-curve-on-Silversteen-Rd

Imagine miles and miles of curves like this one – a.k.a. Silversteen Road

Turn-by-turn route description

Start at traffic light in Bethel (junction US 276, NC 215, NC 110).

Follow NC 215  – starts as Love Joy Road. Easy section through farmland along river with a few sharp turns.

2.9 mi – Turn left @ stop sign to continue on NC 215. Junction Love Joy Road and Lake Logan Rd (NC 215).  Moderately difficult. Rolls through houses, some nice curves, section along Lake Logan very nice.

16.8 mi – Pass Sunburst Campground. Enter Pisgah National Forest. Start climb to Blue Ridge Parkway. Road gets more twisty here. Nice stop at a roadside waterfall. Beware loose gravel on road, especially in turns, most likely to be found in the highest sections. Difficult.

17.9 mi – Pass Blue Ridge Parkway ramp. Popular break spot, if not at the junction, go up to the parkway and turn right to reach a nearby overlook with lots of parking. Continue under the parkway on NC 215. Good views from the highest section. Road surface improves south of parkway. Difficult.

35 mi – Turn right @ stop sign onto US 64. Junction NC 215 (Parkway Road) and US 64. Just a short section on this sometimes busy road. Easy.

Photo-Charlies-Creek-Rd

Charlie’s Creek Rd – typical of the wonderfully empty and inviting rides that abound in the Smokies

37.7 mi  – Turn right onto Silversteen Road. Junction US 64 and Sliversteeen Rd. Sign warns of tight turns ahead, believe it! Difficult.

38.3 mi – Keep right on Silversteen Rd. Junction Silversteen Rd and Golden Road. Difficult.

43.6 mi – Sharp left turn to stay on Silversteen Road. Junction Silversteen Rd and Macedonia Church Road. If you don’t make this turn, you will end up back on NC 215. Difficult.

45.7 mi – Turn right @ stop sign onto NC 281. Junction Silversteen Road and NC 281 (Canada Road). Nice section, a little loose gravel in places. Difficult.

57.6 mi – Turn right onto Charlies Creek Road. Junction NC 281 (Canada Road) and Charlies Creek Road. Be on your guard, surprising turns on this road. Difficult.

Photo - wolf Creek Dam

Wolf Creek Dam near the midpoint of NC 281, one of the scenic points on this great motorcycle ride.

68.4 mi – Turn left onto NC 215. Junction Charlies Creek Road and NC 215. Start back on a road you’ve been on previously.

89.7 mi – Follow NC 215 back to Bethel.

You’ll find gas stations in Bethel, on NC 215 on the south side of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and at the turn off US 64 onto Silversteen Road.

Jukebox Junction is a popular diner in Bethel. It’s mostly gas station food for the remainder of the ride.

Map of the ride

You’ll find these roads and many others in the surroundings on America Rides Maps motorcycle pocket map #6 – The Best Motorcycle Rides Near Great Smoky Mountains National Park – EAST.

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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 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

Total Rider Tech Logo

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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Georgia Motorcycle Rides Map Updated

Georgia Motorcycle Rides Map Updated

Georgia Motorcycle Rides MapAmerica Rides Maps#9 – The Best Rides in the North Georgia Mountains” motorcycle ride map has just been revised and updated for 2012. This pocket map identifies the best biker roads in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia and good secondary roads to connect them all together.

Other Motorcycle Ride Maps –

Blue Ridge Parkway Motorcycle Maps

Blue Ridge Parkway

This Georgia motorcycle ride map is the 9th map in a series that covers the best motorcycle rides in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Maps 1-6 of the series detail the Blue Ridge Parkway end-to-end. Maps 7 & 8 focus on the south and north sides of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and both include The Dragon at Deals Gap (Tail of the Dragon) and the Cherohala Skyway. Maps overlap and connect for easy navigation.

Scope – Area Covered on the Georgia Motorcycle Ride Map – 

The Best Rides in the North Georgia Mountains starts north of Jasper, Dahlonega, and Taccoa and extends across the border into North Carolina as far north as Murphy, NC. On the west edge, it’s bounded by 5 / 515 / 76 and the towns of East Ellijay, GA, McCayesville, GA, and Copperhill, TN. The East side of the map traces US 441 north through Tallulah Falls, Clayton and Dillsboro just clipping a tiny piece of South Carolina.

Georgia motorcycle rides map

Georgia motorcycle rides map – Best roads are shown in red, good ways to connect them and other suggested roads shown in blue.

More than 60 roads are highlighted for Georgia motorcycle touring riders. Best Motorcycle Rides are shown in Red. Good Connecting Roads are shown in Blue. Roads are selected based on the challenge of the ride, low traffic flow, scenic views and attractions, and have to stand out from surrounding roads to be considered. Emphasis is on finding the ways to stay off the 4-lane and major roads and connect the best rides together with the best ways to reach them.

So Whats NEW?

  • The original map had about 25 roads, this one has expanded to more than 60 nice motorcycle rides.
  • Road segment mileage is now shown to help you find the turns onto these hidden gems.
  • More out-of-the-way gas stations have been added, additional motorcycle friendly places and service providers have been added.
  • The Gauntlet Motorcycle Route is now indicated with arrows which show the turns from one road to the next.
Georgia Motorcycle Rides Map

Georgia Motorcycle Rides Map – The reverse side of the map gives descriptions of the highlighted roads to help you find which ones you want to ride most

Why are these maps IDEAL for MOTORCYCLE TOURING?

  • They focus on the best Georgia Motorcycle Rides and make them easy to find
  • These maps are done from the seat of a motorcycle – every road is ridden and experienced on 2 wheels.
  • Designed for function – 11 inches x 17 inches means they fit in your pocket so they are always right there for you to use, not stowed in a pack or saddlebag. Easy to fold, even with gloves on. High contrast, easy to read.
  • At $5.99 for the water and tear-resistant version, it’s THE BEST VALUE out there. No other maps are this comprehensive, this detailed, and this cheap.

How do I get one?

Order Online and get free shipping through the America Rides Maps Secure Online Store – Just click this link to start shopping:

http://shop.americaridesmaps.com/main.sc

– Maps are sent via 1st Class or Priority Mail, typical delivery in 2-3 days.

Maps are also available at:

The Biker Barn – http://www.thebikerbarn.com/

The Lodge at Copperhead – http://www.thelodgeatcopperhead.com/

Click here now to get this map —> http://shop.americaridesmaps.com/9-The-Best-Rides-in-the-North-Georgia-Mountains-GA007.htm  

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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

Total Rider Tech Logo

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 in North Carolina – Pisgah Triangles

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – The Pisgah Triangles Map

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Pisgah Triangles motorcycle map

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Pisgah Triangles motorcycle map – At least 4 variations, the 3rd is my favorite.

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – The Pisgah Triangles are some of the best motorcycle rides in the world. You’ll see spectacular views, wonderful waterfalls, and ride curves and twists that go on and on and on!

US 276 and NC 215 are two of the finest motorcycle rides you’ll find. Both roads run south from Waynesville / Maggie Valley forming a large upside-down “V”. Connections between these two long roads make 4 triangle shaped rides.  Ride a short fun loop or have an all day adventure!

Complete your triangle with – The Blue Ridge Parkway, US 64, East Fork Road,
or SC 11

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Pisgah Triangles

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Pisgah Triangles – Looking Glass Falls on US 276 is one of the most visited roadside waterfalls in North Carolina

Roll into Waynesville or Maggie Valley and ask someone to direct you to the best and most scenic motorcycle rides and their finger will point you to the jagged southern horizon. Home to the highest and best section of the Blue Ridge Parkway, two of the roads that lead out of town and climb to the mile high mountaintops are drop-dead beautiful and filled with the curves and switchbacks that make a biker come alive.

The Pisgah Triangles is a name I use to describe this collection of great  motorcycle rides in western North Carolina as so much of it is through the wilderness of the Pisgah National Forest. These are four good options for rides, though are are several others, including some excellent unpaved forest roads for you adventure bikers. There are also roads which lead out to even more fabulous riding not shown on this map.

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Pisgah Triangles - NC 215

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Pisgah Triangles – NC 215 is the lesser known leg of the Pisgah Triangles, crossing the parkway midway. It’s a popular rest stop in the middle of the wilderness.

Any of these 3 roads – the Blue Ridge Parkway, US 276, and NC 215 are great motorcycle rides you never, ever, tire of enjoying on your motorcycle vacation trip. It’s the first place we local bikers head to as well. Here are 4 outstanding North Carolina motorcycle loop rides you can choose from to get the most out of your precious time while out motorcycle touring in the Blue Ridge.

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Pisgah Triangles - Cradle-of-Forestry

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Pisgah Triangles – Cradle-of-forestry is one of several stops on US 276, along with Pink Beds, Sliding Rock, Looking Glass Falls, Blue Ridge Motorcycle Campground, Jukebox Junction, …

While you could blast through the shortest loop in less than 3 hours, chances are you won’t. There are so many great views you can’t help but stop and admire them along the ride. The first of the Pisgah Triangles is the first motorcycle ride I recommend to visitors after the Blue Ridge Parkway – it’s that good.

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Pisgah Triangles -NC-215-cathedral-falls

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Pisgah Triangles -NC 215 – Cathedral Falls is hidden just off the road, but is worth the stop as there are 4 other waterfalls with just a short walk.

The second of the loops climbs to the Blue Ridge Parkway, then down into the next valley near Brevard and Rosman. If you want to include a few roadside  waterfalls in your motorcycle tour, this is the way to get in some good ones and enjoy some more great curvy sections of road. I usually avoid using US 64 through Brevard and the traffic on the 4-lane, as the 3rd loop is so much nicer.

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Pisgah Triangles - US 276

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Pisgah Triangles – US 276 junction with the Blue Ridge Parkway. As both NC 215 and US 276 connect, you can always hop up and take a quick break with the best of views.

The third loop is just a little tricky as you jump from backroad to backroad, but it is such a nice and scenic motorcycle ride it is worth the effort and one of my favorite motorcycle rides of all. Dodging south of US 64 gets you off the four lane and on to some great rides along trout rivers and streams. Hard not to come back smiling from this one!

 

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Pisgah Triangles -

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Pisgah Triangles – The climbs up to the highest section of the Blue Ridge Parkway then down to the next valley are packed with switchbacks, curves, and twists that are so much fun to ride!

The longest loop takes you into South Carolina to the very edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, follows a long straight section of the Foothills Scenic Highway (SC 11), then comes back into North Carolina and a wonderfully twisty ride. The plunge into South Carolina from Caesar’s Head State Park is one you’ll remember!

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Pisgah Triangles - view from Caesar's Head

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Pisgah Triangles – Chances are you’ll miss this view plunging down from Caesar’s Head State Park into South Carolina and US 276 carves through the tight switchbacks.

Shortest loop 50 miles. 3 hours, more with stops.
Longest loop 120 miles – All day ride 

Routes:

Loop 1 – use Blue Ridge Parkway. 50 miles, 2 -3 hours or more.

Starts in Waynesville  – Leave downtown Waynesville on US 276 south to reach the top point of the Pisgah Triangles.

6.3 mi Continue straight at traffic light on US 276.

20.8 mi Turn left to follow ramp to the Blue Ridge Parkway at Wagon Road Gap.

20.9 mi Turn left at stop sing onto the Blue Ridge Parkway (towards Cherokee).

31.9 mi Exit the Blue Ridge Parkway at NC 215.

40 mi Turn Left at stop sign onto NC 215 (towards Canton). NC 215 becomes Lake Logan Rd.

 49.9 mi End of loop 1 in Bethel. 6.3 miles back to Waynesville on US 276.

Loop 2 – Use US 64. 90 miles, 3-5 hours

Starts in Waynesville  – Leave downtown Waynesville on US 276 south

6.3 mi Pass through the traffic light in Bethel.

20.8 mi Pass under the Blue Ridge Parkway

35.3 mi Turn right @ traffic light onto US 64. 

47.8 mi Turn Right onto NC 215 (Parkway Road).

64.8 mi Pass under Blue Ridge Parkway

90+ mi. Follow directions for loop 1 return to Waynesville

Loop 3 – Use East Fork Rd /  Wilson Rd. 100 miles, 5 -7 hours

Starts in Waynesville  – Leave downtown Waynesville on US 276 south.

35.3 mi Turn right @ traffic light onto US 64. Move into the left lane.

35.4 mi Turn left @ traffic light onto Ecusta Rd. Follow 1.6 miles to next traffic light at Old Hendersonville Highway.

37 mi Turn right, go about 200 yards, then turn left onto Wilson Rd. Follow Wilson Rd to US 276 (Greenville Highway

40.7 mi Turn left @ stop sign onto US 276 (Greenville Highway).

46.1 mi Turn right onto East Fork Road.

54.6 mi Turn left to stay on East Fork Road. Watch for gray metal barn on left near this turn. Follow East Fork Road to US 178 (Pickens Highway).

58.3 mi Turn right @ stop sign onto US 178 (Pickens Highway) and follow into Rosman.

59 mi Turn left @ traffic light when you enter Rosman to reach US 64.

60 mi Turn left at stop sign onto US 64

60.5 mi Turn right onto NC 215 (Parkway Road)

95.5 mi Turn left onto US 276 in Bethel. 6.3 miles to Waynesville.

Loop 4 – Use NC 11 – (Foothills Scenic Parkway)

Follow Loop 3 directions to mile 46.1. Continue south on Greenville Highway (US 276)  into South Carolina.

58.1 mi Turn right @ stop sign onto SC 11. Follow 8.9 mi.

67 mi Turn right onto US 178 (Moorefield Memorial Highway). Follow 15.6 miles to Rosman.

Return to Bethel using Loop 3 directions. 120 miles.

Here’s a video that shows riding in the area:

This is it. These are the rides you should do. They have everything you come to the mountains for. This is bucket-list quality stuff. These are some of the best motorcycle rides in North Carolina. Don’t miss the Pisgah Triangles on your next trip.

You find these great motorcycle rides on America Rides Maps #6 – The Best Motorcycle Rides Near Smoky Park – EAST  http://shop.americaridesmaps.com/6-The-Best-Motorcycle-Rides-Near-Smoky-Mountains-Park-EAST-NC017.htm

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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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Motorcycle Rides In Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area

Let’s get the obvious out of the way right now so we can enjoy the rest of the story, “There are more great Motorcycle Rides in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains than anywhere else”. You knew it was coming, and now being said, we can move on.

photo-view-from-room

We had a nice view from our room at the posh 4 Seasons Resort in Scottsdale, AZ.

We flew into Phoenix, stayed in Scottsdale. 

While many riders fantasize about riding cross-country to reach those far-off destinations, I’m so over that. Droning along on the interstates through days of monotonous and uninteresting landscape is a waste of time and tires to me. With just 6 days of travel on my calendar, it would have taken 8 just getting there and back on the bikes. Once again, we flew in and rented a motorcycle to maximize our quality riding time.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - A balloon ride

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - A balloon ride really helps you appreciate the harshness of the desert and the general landscape.

Phoenix is a city of 1.5 million people who choose to live in a scalding moonscape unfit for sensible human habitation. Endless months of triple-digit temperatures preserve the volcanic origins of the region as if it was a recent event in geologic time. The rocky remnants of those ash-spewing calderas rise on the horizons like mountainous islands peeking above a deep, deep, rolling sea of gray-brown boulders, rocks, and dust. The entire region is one big blast and fallout zone.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - Spines, thorns, prickles, barbs

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - Spines, thorns, prickles, barbs, horns, needles, spikes, everything wants to hurt you!

5% humidity deprives most living things any chance of thriving.  Oxymoronic “river” signs mark parched sandy gulches where runoff collects for a few short minutes before re-vaporizing for the next few weeks – or months. Most every living thing is so bent on survival it threatens all others with spines and needles, fangs and venom to keep them at a distance. Nature has obviously posted the “Do Not Enter” sign.

A long motorcycle ride looping north from Scottsdale

We stuck to local sights the first day, visiting Cave Creek for lunch, and Natural Bridge to the north. The next day, we followed 74 northwest to US 60, then veered north on 89 near Wikenburg. The ride to Wikenburg was pretty miserable, just dry empty desert, highway traffic, vast open spaces.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale - Natural Bridge, AZ

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale - Natural Bridge, AZ, one of the side trips worth taking.

Route 89 soon climbs through a nice section of switchbacks to gain some elevation. The terrain gets a little more green and hospitable and the riding improves as the road seeks the better passage between the rolling hills. Riding along you are taunted by the “No trucks over 50 ft length X miles ahead on 89”, and when you finally pass through Wilhoit the ride gets nice and curvy and fun.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - A break near Prescott.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - A break near Prescott. Returning the phone calls that come in while I'm riding.

89 then passes through the town of Prescott which so interested us, we discussed the potential for basing there for a future trip. It seems to have a lot to offer. North of Prescott, we veered east on 89A for the best section of road I found this trip – the mountainous portion known as the Mingus Highway.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - Jackie gets ready to descend from the Mingus Highway

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - Jackie gets ready to descend from the Mingus Highway through Jerome, the best section of road this trip. Really put the softail through it's paces here!

The Mingus Highway twists and carves through the elevations much like the roads I so enjoy at home in the Smoky Mountains, though the arid scenery could easily convince you it’s a canyon ride in California. Exiting north, the roads plunges down from 6000 foot heights passing through the tiny hamlet of Jerome, clinging to the edge of the slopes nearly a mile above the valley below. A popular stop, we could not afford the delay, though next time it’s worth exploring.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - How pretty is Sedona?

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - How pretty is Sedona? Approaching from the west, this is the least scenic of the 3 routes into town.

We passed through Clarkesdale and Cottonwood, to reach the apex of our days ride – Sedona. As beautiful as it was, Sedona was just our lunch stop today, a first visit for me. Surrounded by the red rock monuments, the destination town is a vortex for tourists and caters to the crowds who flock there.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - Cruising through Sedona

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - Cruising through Sedona, the town is surrounded by the red rock formations on every horizon.

The ride turned south out of Sedona onto one of the most scenic rides you’ll find as Route 179 winds between the colorful rock formations to Oak Creek. Once you pass the casino at the edge of town, the road runs through unremarkable desert to intersect Interstate 17 and we continued south on the highway for a distance.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - Some of the best and easiest views are right along Route 197 south of Sedona.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - Some of the best and easiest views are right along Route 197 south of Sedona.

We turned east when we reached Route 260 and started climbing into the higher elevations and more interesting and scenic riding. Temperatures dropped as we climbed to 7000 feet and entered the high pine forests. Route 260 became Route 87 as we continued south through the small towns of Strawberry and Pine, and the larger sprawling town of Payson.

Motorcycle rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - Sedona is a popular destination for motorcycle riders for obvious reasons.

Motorcycle rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - Sedona is a popular destination for motorcycle riders for obvious reasons.

Progressing south from Payson on Route 87 the road gains another lane then gradually leads you down from the heights and back out into the Sonoran Desert returning to the city. We covered a little more than 400 miles on this loop ride, the longest of the trip.

 A nice loop ride east of Phoenix / Scottsdale

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale - Riding 188 south is a nice cruiser

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale - Riding 188 south is a nice cruiser ride that includes sections along Theodore Roosevelt Lake

I saw this ride described as a great “cruiser” road and I’ll concur with the assessment. It’s easy riding with nice scenery and relatively little traffic. Route 87 north led us through the gentle sweeping curves that climb to the high desert. We made up names like “boulder city” and “the cactus jungle” to describe distinct areas along the route, and rolled through the essentially treeless national forest to reach Route 188 and turn southeast.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - Turning on to Route 188

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - Turning on to Route 188. When you're from the Smoky Mountains, a straight road is a rare sight deserving of a photo!

Route 188 formed the long side of the triangle we rode on this loop. More gentle flowing two lane curves through the dry hills lead to a long ride aside cobalt blue Theodore Roosevelt Lake. It’s pleasant and relaxing riding with the nice contrast of scenery and color.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - Very pleasant ride along Theodore Roosevelt Lake.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - Very pleasant ride along Theodore Roosevelt Lake. Jackie and I pause for a cool drink and to admire the bridge.

Along the way, we stopped at Tonto National Monument to see the historic cliff dwellings. It’s a steep walk up the trail and I wouldn’t wan’t to do it on a hot day, but we enjoyed our visit and the sights.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - Tonto National Monument has historic cliff dwellings

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - Tonto National Monument has historic cliff dwellings with a steep hike, but it's a great stop along Roosevelt Lake.

We turned onto the third leg of the triangle, Route 60 in Claypool, and started west toward Phoenix. We passed through miles and miles of massive mining operations and the mountains of tailings, then entered a wonderfully scenic canyon near Top-of-the-world. The steep drop through the spectacular rocky cliffs dumped us at the edge of a vast flat desert basin and a long arrow-straight drone back to the city. We covered about 250 miles on this day.

Sedona Highlights – what to see on a short visit

Sedona is one of the most scenic towns you’ll visit in the southwest, surrounded by towering red rock monuments on every horizon. We spent a day exploring the area and here are my suggestions on how to get the most out of a short visit.

Route 89A approaches town from the west, then exits north. Route 179 junctions with Route 89 in the heart of town leading south.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - Looking west on Route 89A from Sedona

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - Looking west on Route 89A from Sedona

Approaching town from the west on 89A, to get one of the best views ride to the top of Airport Road. The view from atop the mesa overlooks the entire town and panorama of breathtaking geography.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - one of the best overlooks of Sedona

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - For one of the best overlooks of Sedona, ride up to the top of the mesa on Airport Road. Wow!

North of town, 89A follows Oak Creek Canyon along the river. The deep canyon is forested with tall pine trees that partially obscure the views of the towering cliff walls and you wind you way north. The road gets tighter and tighter than makes a dramatically step climb through a series of switchbacks to top the rim at over 6000 feet. it’s worth the ride to see and experience. Once atop the canyon, 89A continues to Flagstaff and connects to Route 66.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - View from the rim of Oak Creek Canyon north of Sedona.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - View from the rim of Oak Creek Canyon north of Sedona. Follow it into Flagstaff and connect to Route 66.

The easiest way to see the red rocks in all their splendor is to ride down Route 179 south from Sedona. I wouldn’t bother with the Red Rock Loop Road, it’s not as scenic as touted and there is an unpaved section near the middle – more effort than reward. Use the pullouts at the monuments for the nice views and don’t miss a ride up to the Chapel of the Holy Cross for some great views and photos.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - View from the Chapel of the Holy Cross

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - View from the Chapel of the Holy Cross just outside Sedona. A short drive with a nice view.

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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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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.

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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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See the map “Best Motorcycle Rides of the Smoky Mountains
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Why so many great motorcycles rides in the Blue Ridge & Smoky Mountains?

Why are there so many great motorcycle rides in the mountains of the southeast? It’s a combination of geography, history and climate.

photo-black-mountains

One of my favorite Blue Ridge Parkway overlooks of the Black Mountain Range - highest in the east.

Geographically, the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains are very, very, old. Over the eons of time mountains once taller than Everest have weathered, eroded, and subsided to where their heights never much exceed 6000 feet in elevation. Compared to the lofty Rocky mountains in the midwest and the great Sierra Range on the far coast, those in the east are half the size.

While those western mountains soar to dramatic heights, it’s not without a cost. The lower elevations of the Blue Ridge Mountains make them accessible in every season. The softer, gentler topography of the mountains of the east makes building and maintaining roads to connect the valleys and towns more feasible.

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Post office, Penland, NC - the Blue Ridge Mountains are rich with historic sights waiting to be discovered on your rides

History favors the mountains of the east as well. Settlement of our country began on the east coast and gradually moved inward as the population grew. Hill by hill, valley by valley, one small settlement at a time, the trails leading to them became the roads we now enjoy. More people, more time, more roads to connect them all together.

Finally there’s the climate, which is heavily influenced by altitude. The mild wet climate of the east promotes the growth of the dense forests and makes growing crops and farming much easier. The high dry desert climate of the west holds sparse vegetation, harsh conditions, and long cold winters.

Photo - morning on the Cherohala Skway

View from the Cherohala Skyway in early March - mild climate means year round riding in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Life gets even tougher as you go up into the high mountains of the west. Crops can’t grow at the extreme elevations, and were it not for mining and timber, those vast western mountains would be even less populated than they are now. Fewer people means fewer roads in general, and building and maintaing those that pass through the high places is much more difficult and costly.

Finally, the development of the Interstate Highway system works to favor of the high quality of the motorcycle rides in the east.  As more people used them to move into the west, the fewer local roads and passes there became more crowded. More people on fewer roads, many of which open for only part of the year, means more congestion and traffic in the west.

Photo-Charlies-Creek-Rd

Charlie's Creek Rd - typical of the wonderfully empty and inviting rides that abound in the Smokies

In the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains, when the traffic moved to the Interstate Highways, it relieved the pressure on the back roads. One of the greatest pleasures of riding a motorcycle in the Blue Ridge Mountains is the absence of traffic. The selection of two lane, empty, winding roads through beautifully scenic and historic places just never seems to end.

Recently back from my motorcycle touring in the mountains of California, then Colorado, my appreciation for the bounty of great motorcycle rides in the Smoky and Blue Ridge Mountains is refreshed. While I loved the dramatic change of scenery, the vast distances and scale of things to the west, one thing became crystal clear –

Photo-motorcycles-on-parkway

Bikers pause to admire the stunning views in the Smoky Mountains

Out west, you are on a mountain. It’s a harsher, more extreme landscape, you are a temporary interloper. In the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains, you are in the mountains. They cradle and surround you, it’s a comfortable and welcoming environment.

I enjoy my travels and motorcycle rides in other places, but there is simply nothing which comes close to the quality and quantity of outstanding motorcycle rides right in my back yard. While lots of bikers pay a visit, I doubt they much scratch the surface of the gold mine of motorcycle riding that exists here. I know, I’ve mapped hundreds of these great motorcycle rides, thousands of miles of two lane twisties, it’s what I do for a living.

Photo-motorcycles-on-the-dragon

Some roads, like the Dragon at Deals Gap are well known - a wealth of others await your discovery!

Half the population of the US lives within a days ride of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains. It’s an easy trip to get here. It’s affordable and convenient. The motorcycle rides are beautiful, scenic, challenging, and the mountains are full of roads that thrill the motorcycle rider, more than can be visited in a season, let alone a single motorcycle vacation tour.

I’ve said it before, and continue to preach – “There are more great motorcycle rides in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains than anywhere else”.  

Why not start planning your motorcycle trip right now?

Still need convincing? Visit www.AmericaRidesMaps.com to see just how many great roads there are waiting for you!

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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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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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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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A Motorcycle Ride You Should Know About – A stop at Wolf Creek Dam

If you were in the Smoky Mountains this weekend you already know what perfect motorcycle riding we enjoyed. Cool mornings, warm afternoons, bright sunshine and unusually clear skies meant you were in for enjoyment regardless of where you rode while motorcycle touring. Bikes were everywhere. Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway was outstanding, but no more so than anywhere else.

Photo - wolf Creek Dam

Wolf Creek Dam near the midpoint of NC 281, one of the scenic points on this great motorcycle ride.

As it was a holiday weekend, we chose to avoid the more popular venues and when Labor Day came around I celebrated by – going to work. It was the good kind of work though, out on the motorcycle exploring and discovering more new roads to add to my America Rides Maps. I found a couple more, and today will be an office day as I update the maps. Along the way we took a ride on NC 281 (which I’ve written about previously) a road you should know about.

Photo - wolf Creek Dam

NC 281 is a great motorcycle ride - even the dam is curved and you can see the road leading on to it rarely lets up.

NC 281, a.k.a. Canada Road, is well marked at both ends. The north end is accessed from NC 107 south of Sylva and Cullowhee. The south end is accessed from Us 64 near Toxaway. The road takes you through sections of the Pisgah Forest climbing and rolling gently up and down the mountains with generally nice pavement, some decent views, and excellent curves. It a great road for viewing fall colors.

Photo - view from the Wolf Creek Dam

NC 281 is surrounded by the rugged mountains of the Pisgah Forest with scenic vistas of the craggy rocks and valleys, mountain lakes, and streams.s

We stopped for a break at the Wolf Creek Dam near the midpoint. To the north, NC 281 climbs over a pass then descends through a series of fast sweepers to reach NC 107 at Tuckaseegee. There’s a convenient (though expensive) gas station near the junction. To the south, the road is tighter and more technical as it claws it’s way through the rugged hills on the most recently paved portion. It’s certainly worth your time to take a ride on this great motorcycle road and this weekend many chose to do so.

Photo - stopped near the Wolf Creek Dam

Jackie enjoys a break in the warm sunshine from our nearby explorations of great motorcycle rides.

With the dry weather, the dam was spilling water from the lake to keep the popular trout fishing rivers below flowing. It an earthen dam and riding across it’s arcing top is a thrill for some. While there is a concrete K-barrier on the lake side, the drop off on the boulder strewn face is posted only by a series of large rocks widely spaced.

Photo - Spillway at the Wolf Creek Dam

The lake provides water for the popular trout streams below.

Add NC 281 to your list of rides to do this fall. This is just one section of it, it continues south after it joins with US 64 for a few miles. It’s a far better ride than nearby NC 107 which carries most of the local traffic. There are lots of other great motorcycle roads nearby with outstanding scenery, roadside waterfalls, and challenging and fun curves. You could spend your whole motorcycle vacation exploring them. It’s a road you will return to.

America Rides Maps – Dozens of roads in the surrounding area make it one of my favorites.

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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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