Dual-Sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee
As the adventure bike segment of the motorcycle market explodes, I get more and more requests for maps of unpaved dual sport rides. There are loads of them in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains. Much of the mountainous area is National Forest or wildlife management land criss-crossed by unpaved graded roads. While I know of many good unpaved rides, and am often inclined to point my wheels down one, I don’t have a dual-sport bike to do the mapping from the saddle and that’s the only way I’ve found to accurately evaluate a good motorcycle ride – you’ve got to ride it.
I‘ve been fighting the urge to get another dual-sport adventure bike because I’m afraid I won’t get anything else done – I love riding the wild back roads and trails. After this ride, I’ve got the fever again.
When Lt. Dan from GSMmotoRent.com invited me to come along on a dual-sport ride with the group from the RoadRUNNER Magazine Event in Maggie Valley, I jumped at the chance. He had a spare KLR 650, the workhorse of this class of motorcycle, a bike I’d been wanting to ride for a long, long time.
We left Maggie Valley and made our way north on NC 209 to Fines Creek. From there we continued north to Max Patch Road and began the climb through the national forest capped by the 6000+ ft. high bald mountaintop. While it was wet with morning rain, the roads are pretty tame gravel and well maintained. Even so, they are plenty tight and twisty.
After playing around on some of the back roads near Max Patch, we emerged on Big Creek Road to take lunch in Hartford. As we were near the Interstate, a few riders had had enough of the unpaved challenge and headed back. The remainder were eager for more.
Heading south now, we followed TN 32 around the twisty northeast border of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, then continued into the park on Mt. Sterling Road when the pavement ended.
We took a side road off Mt. Sterling Road to visit Buzzard’s Roost. A chin of rock juts out 1000 feet above the Pigeon River overlooking the gorge where Interstate 40 connects North Carolina and Tennessee.
We returned to the pavement when we passed Cataloochee Valley, home to the parks famous herd of elk. We covered more than 100 miles on unpaved roads. We crossed streams, logs, rocks, and gullies washed out by the heavy rains. It was wonderful.
If you’d like to challenge some of the best dual sport motorcycle roads in North Carolina and Tennessee, contact Dan at GSMmotoRent.com in Townsend, Tennessee. He has a great variety of dual-sport motorcycles and there are so many great roads for you to enjoy. Don’t forget to follow GSM MotoRent on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/pages/GSMmotoRent-Dual-Sport-Adventures/57878901570
– 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