Best Motorcycle Rides, NC – Wayah Road

Best Motorcycle Rides, NC – Wayah Road

Best Motorcycle Rides In NC

Best Motorcycle Rides In NC – winding up Wayah Road from the Nantahala Gorge.

30 mile long Wayah Road connects US 64 near Franklin, NC to US 74 in the heart of the Nantahala Gorge near Topton, NC. It’s a useful and strategic road to know of as it’s the only one that cuts through this rugged section of high mountains and national forest and it points to the Dragon at Deals Gap. While the ride lacks panoramic long range mountain views, there is plenty of scenery along the whitewater river. Clear and sparkling alpine Nantahala Lake is a treat near the top.

Best Motorcycle Rides, NC - Wayah Road

Best Motorcycle Rides, NC – Wayah Road – section from Map #7. Only main roads shown. Other great rides near here.

The climb out of the depths of Nantahala Gorge is steep and twisty right from the start by the powerhouse. It follows the  bank of the river as it cascades down the slope from the lake above, crossing it on narrow bridges a few times. You may run into fishermen along the lower stretch, otherwise there’s little traffic.

Best Motorcycle Rides, NC - Wayah Road - Waterfall along Wayah Road

Best Motorcycle Rides, NC – Wayah Road – The ride along the river on Wayah Road is spectacular!

When you reach the top of the climb, the road relaxes and rolls across the heights of the mountain passing through the small community near the lake. The road gets tight again along the shoreline of the clear deep lake, then climbs a bit more to reach the gentle run across the high stretches of Wayah Bald. This last short climb has some very tight turns and is notorious for gravel drawn into the road from unpaved driveways. There is a small restaurant on the lake and a few places to pull off for a break or photo.

Best Motorcycle Rides, NC - Wayah Road

Best Motorcycle Rides, NC – Wayah Road – Picnic lunch at alpine Nantahala Lake

There’s a steep plunge down the eastern slopes with some true hairpin curves. You emerge in a tight valley that grows wider as you approach Franklin. The east end of Wayah Road is marked by ‘Loafer’s Glory” country store and gas station (click her for Yelp review). Wayah Road ends when it reaches Old Murphy Road. Four lane US 64 is half a mile south on Old Murphy Road or you can follow Old Murphy Road about 5 miles in to downtown Franklin.

Best Motorcycle Rides, NC - Wayah Road

Best Motorcycle Rides, NC – Wayah Road. The curves at the top of the climb are some of the most severe and the most fun. Be alert for gravel in these turns.

Wayah Road is a classic so you’ll find it on the “12 Classic Deals Gap Motorcycle Rides” pocket map from America Rides Maps. Do yourself a favor and look at Map #7 if you are coming to ride in this area. “The Best Roads South of Great Smoky Mountains National Park” covers this are in detail. I’ve only hinted at the many nice rides near Franklin with the snippet of map I’ve shown.

Get The most detailed Maps Here – America Rides Maps

If you enjoy photos of motorcycle riding in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains, like MY BLUE RIDGE MOTORCYCLING FACEBOOK PAGE.Facebook

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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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100 Great Motorcycle Rides in the Smoky Mountains Map

100 Great Motorcycle Rides in the Smoky Mountains Map

America Rides Maps motorcycle pocket ride maps has a brand new map!

100 Great Motorcycle Rides  mapin the Smoky Mountains

New map! 100 Great Motorcycle Rides in the Smoky Mountains

This map mails out September 6, 2013. This is the first run of these new maps, supplies are limited! Reserve yours now.

Order online here – http://www.shop.americaridesmaps.com/100-Great-Motorcycle-Rides-in-the-Smoky-Mountains-SM100F.htm

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100 Great Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rides Map

100 Great Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rides Map – both folded (road use) and unfolded (wall display) versions. Waterproof and durable. Red Roads are best, Blue Roads are best connectors.

12 Classic Deals Gap Motorcycle Rides pocket map

12 Classic Deals Gap Motorcycle Rides pocket map

  • Size: 24 x 36 inches
  • Waterproof and tear resitant
  • Folded and unfolded versions available
  • Supplies are limited!
  • Click here to order

100 Great Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rides is the “grown up” version of our most popular 12 Classic Deals Gap Motorcycle Rides pocket map. This new larger and more detailed map adds in all the great roads that are not featured on the smaller map, more than 100 of them.

Great Motorcycle Rides in the Smoky Mountains Map

Size comparison – pocket maps vs. new map unfolded. More detail, easy to read, tons more roads!

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100 Great Motorcycle Rides in the Smoky Mountains Map

4.5 x 8 inches folded

ABOUT:

Discalimer –

  • There are way more then 100 great motorcycle rides on this map
  • Most of these roads are peripheral to the actual geologic formation of the Smoky Mountains

This new larger format map (24×36 inches) combines at least 3 pocket maps (#6, #7, #8)  and sections of 2 more (#5, #9) into one larger map that encircles and includes all the best motorcycle rides surrounding Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

This map stretches from Tellico Plains, TN in the west to include the Cherohala Skyway, The Dragon,  and connecting roads, to beyond Asheville, NC in the east. It dips into Georgia and South Carolina, and reaches as far north as Knoxville, TN. Within these borders lie some of the best motorcycle roads in the nation.

  • For the first time visitor – all the great motorcycle roads are at your disposal.
  • For the return visitor – expand on what you’ve already discovered
  • For the local – I bet you find something new

Buy this map now

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And you’ll have to wait for it until September 6, 2013;

America Rides Maps notice

Maps will mail Sept 6

This maps just arrived from the printer and I’m about to leave on my motorcycle vacation. Yes, just like you, I need my motorcycle trips.

So all I can do is let you know when you can get them –

  • You can order now –
  • I will start mailing maps again on September 6, 1st Class or Priority Mail –
  • You should have your map by September 10, 2013

Order now

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Where can I buy these maps NOW?

I’ve had no time to get them out to sellers so these are the few places they are available and in limited supply at that. Once I return from my motorcycle trip I’ll get more out to the other vendors.

http://www.shop.americaridesmaps.com/100-Great-Motorcycle-Rides-in-the-Smoky-Mountains-SM100F.htm

America Rides Maps motorcycle ride maps

How the maps compare in size –

Click here to shop online and see all the maps –

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Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Spring Road Report April 2013

Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Spring Road Report April 2013 – Current conditions for motorcycle touring and Blue Ridge Parkway riders;

Roads affected:

  • Blue Ridge Parkway
  • US 441 through Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Cherohala Skyway
  • Fires Creek Road near Hayesville, NC
  • US 276 / NC 215 south of Waynesville, NC
  • US 70 / 25 north of Hot Springs, NC
  • NC 28 north of Franklin
  • NC 197 near Bakersville
photo - Spring on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Spring on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway – One by one the incidents of road damage sustained over the winter are being or have been repaired. One significant situation remains – the closure of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Mt. Mitchell. Most recent reports indicate it will be resolved mid-May.

Photo-mt-mitchell-highest-in-east

The observation tower atop Mt. Mitchell is worth the trip, but you have to approach from the north until the road is fixed. Pick a sunny clear day.

A section of the Blue Ridge Parkway on this long high lonely stretch of road has been subsiding and slipping down the mountainside for several years. Frequent riders will remember the noticeable dip in the road just south of the entrance to Mt. Mitchell State Park at NC 128. A slide occurred here several years back, it was important to address this situation before another took out the pavement again.

Photo-Peaks-of-Otter-Lodge

The Peaks of Otter Lodge on the Blue Ridge Parkway will reopen soon.

The Peaks of Otter Lodge north of Roanoke is currently closed, though a new concessionaire has taken the contract and it is expected to open soon. Bluffs Lodge at Doughton Park in NC  will remain closed this season, looks like the campground will be open. The Pisgah Inn opened early south of Asheville. Crabtree Falls visitor center is closed this year.

For a detailed list of Parkway facilities and schedule go here – http://www.nps.gov/blri/parknews/blue-ridge-parkway-releases-2013-season-opening-schedule.htm

Download a free printable detour map here – http://smokymountainrider.com/Downloads/parkway-closure-2013.pdf

US 441 through Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Open

photo - reapir on US 441

The newly repaired section of US 441 in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Work to repair a landslide on the North Carolina side of the only paved road crossing the park was completed a month ahead of schedule. The remained of the road is open though  a few of the roadside attractions like Chimney Tops are closed. Several of the unpaved roads in the park may not open this year due to cutbacks including Heintooga Ridge Road and Balsam Mountain Road.

photo - View of the slide damage below the repairs.

View of the slide damage below the repairs.

Cherohala Skyway – one lane closed, work continues

photo - Cherohala Skyway repair work

Work at the landslide on the Cherohala Skyway is progressing well.

Work on the landslide on the Cherohala Skyway is progressing well. Located on the North Carolina side close to the state line, one lane is closed with traffic regulated through the construction zone with temporary traffic lights and a short delay. Expect to encounter trucks hauling fill on the North Carolina side of the ride. You’ll find a little gravel on the road near the detour, but it is generally clean and in great condition.

photo - truck on the Cherohala Skyway

You will run into trucks hailing fill on the North Carolina side of the slide.

Fires Creek Road – closed for bridge work

A little known road north of Hayesville, NC, and one of my personal favorites to get away from the congestion on US 64, the road is closed for bridge work through October. Such a nice ride. If I scout a better detour, will post.

NC 215 / US 276 – conditions 

These two classic roads south of Waynesville / Maggie Valley both intersect the Blue Ridge Parkway at their midpoints. Each was repaved last year and are very popular rides.

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.

US 276 got a decent paving job and is in good condition. Be wary of gravel in the tight turns on the steep section climbing to reach the Blue Ridge Parkway on the north side. The roadsides were lined with fresh gravel, and it gets kicked into the road by cars and trucks on some of the sharpest curves. Not bad, but be alert.

NC 215 got a “tar and chip” coating which leveled and filled the potholes and cracks, but the surface remains loose in the higher sections. It has improved significantly over the winter. Still watching this road closely as there has been paving equipment parked on the roadside for a few weeks now. A top coat of new asphalt would make this road so much nicer, it could be the destination ride of the season. Will continue to monitor closely and keep my fingers crossed.

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.

US 70 / 25 north of Hot Springs, NC

photo-wolf-creek-bridge

They don’t make ’em like that anymore! Look at that beautiful 1928 architecture. Detour via Fugate Road. The best thing about the detour is you get to see the bridge!

The bridge across the French Broad River will remain closed this year at the state line between North Carolina and Tennessee. This section of road connects Hot Springs, NC to Newport, TN. Use Fugate road as a detour. More info / photos here – http://smokymountainrider.com/?p=4239

NC 28 north of Franklin, NC –

One lane closed, sometimes short delays until May 1 as road is widened in this section north of town.

NC 197 near Bakersville, NC –

Bridge replacement through June 30. Detour marked.

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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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Scenic Motorcycle Rides – Dry Falls, NC

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

photo-Dry-Falls

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

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

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

image-map-of-waterfalls

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

 

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

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Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer

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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 Great North Carolina Motorcycle Ride near Franklin

Here’s a nice motorcycle ride west of Franklin, NC most riders never see. It’s easy to ride right past it onUS 64 between Franklin and Hayesville.

photo-view-west-from-us-64

West view from US 64 looking towards Hayesville, North Carolina.

US 64 has long been a favorite motorcycle ride as it makes a lazy climb through the mountains of the Nantahala National Forest. It’s a popular way to travel from Franklin to Murphy, or approach the great rides found just across the border in north Georgia.

Scenic US 64 is an easy motorcycle ride with gentle climbs and descents, the curves are broad and sweeping, the road wide and well maintained, and there are a couple nice overlooks.

photo-fall-view-us-64

US 64 is an easy ride, well maintained, wide and sweeping, but it can carry a good amount of traffic at times.

 

Near the middle of this section of US 64 you’ll find West Old Murphy Road winding into a mountain pass to the east. It’s a nice motorcycle ride that loops back to connect with US 64 closer to Franklin in 8.6 miles.

As much as I enjoy riding US 64, I don’t give it a top rating on my maps. US 64 is the primary east-west connector across the southern border of western North Carolina. Because of this, you’ll rarely have the road to yourself to enjoy. Local, commercial and tourist traffic use US 64 and chances are you’ll run in to at least a little of it.

West Old Murphy Road let’s you escape if you do get caught behind a string of slow traffic crawling up the grade.  If you’re looking for something more challenging and entertaining, you’ll find it on West Old Murphy Road.

photo-cemetary-w-old-murphy-rd

One of my favorite break spots, a small cemetery on W Old Murphy Rd.

This great motorcycle ride circles around the south side of the mountain US 64 skirts to the north. It’s devilishly twisty in places, the pavement is decent, and there are a few nice views though it’s another one of those roads you’ll be watching the  twisty pavement more than the pretty scenery.

West Old Murphy Road is easy to find at either end. Nearest Franklin, it’s near the point US 64 goes from two lanes to the four lane section  which circles south of the town. Near the mid point of US 64 look for signage on the east side of the road for Standing Indian campground in the National Forest.

Not far in from the mid point is one of my favorite spots for a quick break. You’ll see a pull-off near a small embankment. Atop the rise is an old graveyard. There are some good places to sit and enjoy the reverent solitude.

image-map-of-w-old-murphy-rd

You can see W Old Murphy Road is a twisty little bugger, but a lot of fun to ride.

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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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West Old Murphy Road and many other roads in the surrounding area is found on America Rides Maps #7 – The Best Motorcycle Rides SOUTH of GSMNP
The start of it is also shown on America Rides Maps  – Map #9 – The Best Rides in the North Georgia Mountains

 

 
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Motorcycling in the Land of the Waterfalls – Shouldn’t You be in these Photos?

Photo - Soco Road Exit Blue Ridge Parkway

We started from the Soco Rd Exit (US 19) on the Blue Ridge Parkway @ MP 455.7

Absolutely gorgeous weather over the holiday weekend did not go to waste. We took advantage of the opportunity to enjoy riding a “tourist” loop we typically avoid. While the good folks were in church, we knew the traffic would be light and the timing would be right to get out for a Smoky Mountain motorcycle ride that would take us by some of the best scenery the area has to offer and a trip through the Land of the Waterfalls.

Photo - Museum of the Cherokee Indian

Museum of the Cherokee Indian

We made our way to Maggie Valley and started the loop from the Soco Gap exit on the Blue Ridge Parkway at MP 455.7. Careening down through the curves towards Cherokee, we had the road to ourselves and got the rare chance to enjoy this twisty section of two lane which is normally crowded with travelers and commuters.

Photo - Bear in Cherokee

Cherokee is full of these bears

Cherokee was quiet as we sneaked into town for a quick photo then continued on US 19 into Bryson City on the south side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  On Easter Sunday, the trains of the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad sat in reverence as we passed through the back side of town to check out a road I’d been curious about – (I never stop looking for new roads for America Rides Maps).

Photo - Great Smoky Mountains Railway Train

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad train in Bryson City

After 10 minutes on the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway (US 74 /19/23/28), we forked south into the Nantahala Gorge and paused for a break at the Nantahala Outdoor Center on the river.  From now on, this beautiful road which follows the course of one of the most popular whitewater rivers in the east will be filled with lumbering buses hauling rafters and kayakers upstream for the chilly and thrilly ride through the rapids. Thanks to the holiday, there was no commercial traffic, though plenty of others were here to enjoy the hiking, biking, and other pursuits in this hub of outdoor activity.

Photo - Rivers End Restaurant

The Rivers End Restaurant sits on the Natahala River at NOC.

Enduring 10 miles of relatively light traffic, we turned off for the climb over Wayah Bald. Snaking up along the cascading river, we passed fishermen gracefully floating their flies in the quiet pools beneath the numerous falls, then paused for a picnic lunch on the shore of crystal clear alpine Nantahala Lake.

Photo - motorcycle on Wayah Road

Jackie cruises Wayah Road

The ride across the top of the mountain is more challenging than it is scenic filled with curves and twists that attract riders to this favorite motorcycle route. Easing down through the hairpin curves on the back side of the hump, the road traces the course of another stream which builds to flow into the Little Tennessee River once you reach Franklin.  We passed through town then headed south again on US 64 / NC 28 to enter the Cullasaja River Gorge.

Waterfall along Wayah Road

The ride along the river on Wayah Road is spectacular!

It looked like our luck was changing as we found ourselves behind several cars, but each peeled off on side roads before we reached the outstanding curves that carve through the rugged canyon and we actually got to enjoy the ride at speed. That is a rare treat and we appreciated it. Good rains this spring have the waterfalls roaring and they were spectacular.

Photo - motorcycles at Nantahala Lake

Picnic lunch at alpine Nantahala Lake

There are four easy to spot major waterfalls along this stretch of US 64 leading into Highlands, Cullasaja Falls (the largest), Dry Falls, Quarry Falls, and delicate Bridal Veil Falls. We stopped for a unique photo at Bridal Veil Falls where a small paved loop runs behind the cascade.

Photo - Cullasaja Falls

Cullasaja Falls on US 64 / NC 28

The remainder of the ride on US 64 is outstanding for scenery but by mid afternoon the tourist traffic was picking up and we did not always get to exploit the wonderful curves as much as we would have liked. The horizons are flanked with glimpses of the highest naked cliffs in North Carolina, some more than 1000 feet tall, and you cruise through some of the most expensive real estate in the country.

We completed the loop by heading north again on US 215 from Rosman climbing to reach the highest section of the Blue Ridge Parkway on a freshly paved road that snakes through outstanding turns and scenery that make it one of the locals favorite rides.

Photo - Motorcycle behind Bridal Veil Falls

Jackie poses for a photo on her motorcycle behind Bridal Veil Falls just outside Highlands, NC on US 64 / NC 28. How cool is that?

Click on photos for larger view

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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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Great Food in a Gas Station? Hello, Caffe Rel!

Photo - Hot Spot Gas Station in Franklin

You can't miss the huge Hot Spot gas station in Franklin, home to the Caffe Rel.

I’ve been hearing tales of Caffe Rel for quite a while but a good restaurant in a gas station? It was just a bit hard to believe. Nor does Franklin, NC come to mind when I’m thinking of great places to eat. It does now.

Let’s say I had my doubts when I pulled into the Hot Spot gas station in downtown Franklin. It is a very nice gas station. Big, new, clean. You can’t miss it. We arrived around 5:30 and there were already cars in all the spaces outside.

I had heard the place was small. It wasn’t as small as I supposed, but seating is limited. Get there early. It’s really nice on the inside. It’s not well set up for large parties – tables seat 4, there are a couple that will hold 6, but room is limited and if you come in with a huge group don’t expect to share a table.

Photo - Caffe Rel sign

Still seems odd - a decent restaurant connected to the Hot Spot convenience store.

The menu is extensive and I was surprised at some of the offerings. It’s got a French theme, but also covers a variety of cuisines. One of the specials of the evening was “snails and tails“,  the tails being crawfish. I chose another crawfish dish. We also tried the mountain trout (great), the french style roast beef (excellent), shrimp and grits (not the typical southern recipe, but a nice twist), and assorted ravioli. Everybody got a great meal and we had very good service. What more can you ask for?

So what has this got to do with Smoky Mountain motorcycle riding? A lot of motorcycle riders find their way to Franklin. It’s nice to know those good places to stop when you come to a decent sized town.

Photo - inside Caffe Rel

It's surprisingly nice inside. The food will surprise you as well.

Franklin, NC is one of those towns located at the crossroads of several great motorcycle rides. US 64 passes on the south side of town. Go east to see 4 great roadside waterfalls on the way to Highlands. Wayah Road lies just 5 miles to the west. The great motorcycle ride over Wayah Bald into the Nantahlala River gorge is a classic. The Moonshiner 28 runs north to lead you to the Dragon at Deals Gap. US 441 takes you to Cherokee and the start of the Blue Ridge Parkway. You’re only half an hour from some of the great motorcycle rides in north Georgia. Those are just the well known motorcycle rides in Franklin. There are plenty more on my America Rides Maps.

Photo - inside Caffe Rel

The next time you're near Franklin, remember the Caffe Rel and try to stop during the off hours.

I didn’t find a web site for Caffe Rel, but then, they don’t have a bathroom either. Use the one in the gas station. Maybe it has a web site. Don’t much care.

We’ll be revisiting the Caffe Rel, looking for opportunities to stop during the off hours. By normal meal times, the place is packed. Hope you get a chance to try it.

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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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Good News / Bad News at Onion Mountain Road Near Franklin

Photo - work on Onion Mountain road

For a road that is going nowhere, they are doing a nice job of getting you there. Lets hope they find the funds to finish it this year.

On my way back from Georgia I decided to make a detour to investigate the progress on Onion Mountain Road east of Franklin, NC. This is one of my “pet” roads, one I’ve been watching ever since they started paving it last year. The work completed prior to the winter shut down really got my hopes up that this ridge top two lane would eventually be completely paved once warmer weather returned. The good news is the crews are back at it.

The bad news though, puts a damper on the whole situation. I was excited to follow a dump truck up the winding road, though a little dismayed to see the weight of the passing trucks was already damaging what had been an excellent paving job. Proceeding out onto the gravel section (no change from where  it had begun last year), I soon ran into the work crew. They have no expectation to complete the paving all the way through this year, funding has been cut. Why they are bothering with what they are doing is a mystery to me, it will be just another road to nowhere.

I’ll keep watching. Once paved, Onion Mountain Road will link a number a great motorcycle roads and allow you to avoid pretty but heavily trafficked US 64. I went ahead and added more of the surrounding roads to my America Rides Maps motorcycle pocket map “The Best Roads South of Great Smoky Mountains National Park – WEST” and am considering adding a few more once I give them another look. We’ll see how things develop.

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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 Good Tip Leads to More Great Motorcycle Rides Near the Dragon

Droning west on the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway this morning, my mind tends to wander. The greatest challenge of the highway is simply maintaining the legal limit leaving plenty of brain cells free to engage in other things. My wife rides alongside on her Beemer so I have something to look at every once and a while and count my blessings of how fortunate I am to have someone like her to come along with me today. The thought that comes to the forefront is “Just how many motorcycles are there on the road?”

It was far easier to snap a photo on the rare straight stretches - overall the roads were wonderfully curvy.

As the main artery between the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Dragon at Deals Gap, it’s no wonder there are a lot of motorcycle riders on this stretch of highway 23 / 74. Both the Parkway and the Dragon draw millions of two wheeled vacationers to the area every year. Still, we’re a good bit east of Cherokee, the southern endpoint of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and within minutes we’ve passed scores of bikes headed in the opposite direction.

Photo-motorcycle-follows-nice-views

The roads we explored followed winding streams and creeks through rolling farm lands in a broad mountain valley. Plenty of great long range views.

We’re only going as far as NC 28 south today, about 45 minutes ride time to reach Lauada, and early on I wonder if we’ll pass 100 riders. I start to keep a loose count, but within 20 minutes or so it’s obvious the number will easily exceed that, and question answered, my mind drifts to other things. Turning off the highway onto two lane NC 28 we plunge south into the twisties and the bikes keep sweeping past us in the other direction.

Photo - Jackie rounds a curve

The pavement is generally excellent for back roads, and you can enjoy the ride with gusto. Just be wary for a little gravel now and then.

I’m following up on a tip from Brad at the Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort. I spent some time with him Friday and he suggested I revisit an area I’d previously sketched over. I knew there were a couple of nice rides hidden away around Franklin, but he hinted they could be linked together to make a nice route. I’d done some scouting on the way home that day, and I saw promise. Today was the day we’d put it all together and see if it added up to getting a place on my America Rides Maps.

Photo - Jackie leads

The only traffic we found was when we approached the main road. If you stick to the perimeter route you'll see very little if any and it's more curvy and fun.

It took about four hours for a thorough assessment. We checked out every one of the roads in the area, confirmed the unpaved areas remained so (I only focus on paved roads), the dead ends were still dead, and the links that joined the roads together followed a more or less natural flow or the turn points were easy enough to locate. When we completed our task, I had assembled an outstanding ride that will certainly be the next addition to America Rides Maps. I’ll add it tomorrow morning.

Photo - a day meant for riding a motorcycle

I highly recommend NC 28. These roads make it even better. Great to know when there's traffic. You can jump off and enjoy the ride again.

I make a claim to know almost every great motorcycle ride from North Georgia to North Virginia. While I can’t claim I know them all, I’ve just learned another, and we saw only one other bike the whole time we were exploring the area. Now that’s what I’m looking for.

America Rides Maps

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Motorcycle Vacation Planning – Great Ride Alternatives

SEE SOME WATERFALLS!

Photo - Whitewater Falls Highest in the east

Whitewater Falls - Highest in the east

With the Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap on the North Carolina / Tennessee state line now closed due to a rock slide, many who have made reservations in advance may be wondering what to do. Before you cancel those reservations, consider there are plenty of alternatives to discover great motorcycle rides in the area within easy reach.

The Cherohala Skyway, Tennessee’s version of the Blue Ridge Parkway, remains open and is a fine ride, though be aware much of the regional traffic will be shifting onto it. It’s not quite the challenge to ride, but it makes up the deficiency with great scenery as it climbs to over 5000 feet before entering North Carolina.

Of course, NC 28 which intersects US 129 in North Carolina at the southern end of the Tail of the Dragon will be there for those looking for a more challenging motorcycle route. With the Dragon closed, I suspect traffic on it will be light. Don’t let this road fool you, it “bites” more riders than the Dragon in that it is not as predictable. Where the Dragon has one turn after another, you know what to expect,  NC 28 has some more open stretches where you can pick up speed only to find the upcoming 10 mph corner is far sharper than you are ready for.

Many motorcycle tourers who ride this section of NC 28 don’t realize it continues further south into South Carolina and miss out on a great section of road. It grows to 4 lanes as it reaches the intersection with the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway, continues a few miles on the highway, then diverts south again to become a wonderful two lane road again. All in all, it’s more than 100 miles of truly great motorcycle riding with but a few interruptions where it passes through Franklin and Highlands.

Photo - Dry Falls

Dry Falls - You can walk behind them

The first area I highly recommend you spend some time motorcycle riding is often called the “Land of the Waterfalls”. Comprised primarily of the wild mountains of the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests, this area south of Great Smoky Mountains National Park hosts one of the greatest collections of easy to view roadside waterfalls in the nation including the highest waterfall east of the Rockies.

This rugged area is laced with challenging and scenic motorcycle roads including the highest and most beautiful section of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Springtime is the best season to see them before the summer leaves obscure the views.

Here’s a video sample of them from America Rides Maps;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBrB5lrtZ9I

Don’t let the closure of the Tail of the Dragon ruin your motorcycle vacation. There are plenty of great rides just over the hill. These are some of the best, more to come.

Contact http://americaridesmaps.com for more suggestions and advice.

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