How long to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway on my motorcycle?

How long to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway on my motorcycle?

Budget at least 2 days for your motorcycle ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway –

Map - How long to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway?

Getting to the Blue Ridge Parkway is a days ride for half the population in the US.

Blue-Ridge-Parkway-humback-rocks-overlook

Blue Ridge Parkway – Humpback Rocks Overlook in Virginia

While you can ride the entire 469.1 mile long Blue Ridge Parkway on your motorcycle trip in a single day, I strongly advise against it. I’ve done it, and trust me, you will not enjoy the experience like you should. It takes strategic planning and uncomfortable endurance to go end-to-end in a day on a motorcycle ride.

blue-ridge-parkway-spiral-curve-sign

Blue Ridge Parkway – Some tricky curves await on this great motorcycle ride!

The simple math is misleading – at an average speed of 45 mph and 469 miles to cover, it seems like a little over 10 hours of saddle time on your motorcycle tour does the trick. For many riders on a fully laden bike, the challenge of the mountain roads leads to a speed closer to 35 mph. You’ll also come across car traffic which finds this reduced speed more comfortable and few opportunities to pass.

photo-no-gas-sign-on-blue-ridge-parkway

This sign is a legacy to when gas was available on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It should now read “No gas next 400 miles”. There is no gas on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Additionally, there is no gas on the entire ride. You’ll need to leave the parkway to fill up. Choose the wrong exit and that gas station may be 15 miles down a steep and twisty mountain road. Most of us like to eat, and there is only one Park Service Lodge left on the ride, so you’ll be diverting into nearby towns adding additional time.

So how do you do it best when time is tight?

I recommend starting at the north end in Waynesboro, Virginia. If you are going to try to cover as many miles as possible with few stops, do this in the Virginia section. The road is a bit more relaxed, the elevations not as high, and while the views are outstanding, they are not as spectacular as those in North Carolina. There are more wooded sections, and it gives you a chance to get used to the curves before you get into the more serious challenges to the south.

photo - Virginia blooms on the Blue Ridge Parkway

June on the Blue Ridge Parkway means flowers! A great time to enjoy the ride.

Rocky-knob-cabins

Blue Ridge Parkway – Rocky Knob Cabins – a nice stop but come prepared with your own food and drink.

Set your sights to get across the border and into North Carolina on that first day. You’ll still have time to stop at some of the nicer overlooks and if you’re making good time you can even visit some of the roadside attractions along the way. As you get near the border you’ll find lots of places to lay over for the night. In Virginia, I usually head for Floyd or Hillsville, or take one of the many cabins located near the Parkway. Be aware, if you do choose a cabin along the way, you’ll need to bring in your own food or eat before you get there. Chateau Morrisette has great food, and you can stuff a bottle in the bags to bring to the cabin.

photo - grandfather mountain on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Grandfather Mountain south of Boone starts the climb into the high mountains of North Carolina

Photo - View of the grounds at the Switzerland Inn

The Switzerland Inn – A beautiful Resort on the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of my favorite stops

On the North Carolina side of the border, most choose to stay in or around Boone. You’ll find lots of lodging options here, and plenty of good places to eat in town, though you will have to deal with the traffic. If you are making really good time, the last place I’d suggest is the Spruce Pine / Little Switzerland area, the Switzerland Inn is a fabulous stop right on the parkway with nice rooms and great food as is the Skyline Inn nearby. Once south of here, there is a long stretch of empty road before you come into the city of Asheville.

Savor your second day. Once you get south of Boone, you start to climb into the high mountains. This is the time to slow down, take advantage of the numerous overlooks, and get those photos. You’ll also hit some of the trickiest turns and curves. Take your time, relax, and enjoy.

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks - highest point

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks – highest point. The long sweeping overlook compliments the great sweeping views

Strategic planning is critical on the southern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway. You’ll be riding through long remote sections of road with few facilities nearby. I suggest fueling up in Asheville. You’ll find gas stations closest to the parkway here. It’s also a good place to stop for food, it’s hard to find a bad meal in Asheville. While it’s the second largest city on the Blue Ridge Parkway (after Roanoke, VA), it’s easy to navigate and a fun place to spend a little time. While the only remaining Park Service Lodge, the Pisgah Inn,  is just south of Asheville, and has great food and views, expect a wait to get served.

Blue Ridge Parkway-motorcycle-view

The southern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway is worth the wait. Take your time and enjoy!

blue-ridge-parkway-devils-courthouse

Blue Ridge Parkway – Devils Courthouse, one of many spectacular sights on the ride.

If you find yourself running short on gas towards the end of the ride, the next best option for fuel is Maggie Valley at US 19 / Soco Gap (MP 455.7). You also find food there, and the Wheels Through TIme Motorcycle Museum is worth the visit. Maggie Valley is the place I most recommend for staying near the end of the parkway as it is so well located for the wealth of great motorcycle rides in the surroundings, and there are lots of rooms available at good prices.

Arriving at the south end of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Cherokee, NC, you are at the southern entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Cherokee has a good number of rooms, but it’s also quite “touristy” so you’ll have some traffic to deal with. No alcohol on the reservation, and the best food is probably at Harrah’s Casino. While I’ve stayed there in the past, I suggest looking at all your options depending on which way your travels take you next.

Enjoy a Blue Ridge Parkway view on a motorcycle trip

Blue Ridge Parkway view – While 2 days will get you there, if you have more time you’ll find plenty to enjoy on a more relaxed motorcycle tour of one of the top 10 rides in the country.

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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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Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – NC 215 done?

It appears the paving project on one of North Carolina’s best motorcycle rides has now made it one of the most dangerous as well. My hopes were high when a beautiful smooth layer of asphalt was applied, but afterwards it was covered over with a “tar and chip” surface. The road surface is much better, potholes and cracks are gone, but the remaining accumulation of loose gravel makes negotiating it at speed on a motorcycle a handful for even experienced riders.

Best Motorcycle Roads in North Carolina - NC 215

Best Motorcycle Roads in North Carolina – NC 215 – Slow and careful is what it takes to navigate the new surface on this great motorcycle ride.

Last Sunday they started painting the lines on the road, using a blower to clear the surface for the white and yellow lines. While this removed a good bit of the loose gravel on the surface, plenty remains. 4 wheeled traffic clears much of it from the tire tracks, but it builds up in between in the middle of the lane. Stray out of the clean spots and there goes your traction.

Best Motorcycle Rides In North Carolina - NC 215

Best Motorcycle Rides In North Carolina – NC 215 – Great fall color along NC 215 right now, but all your attention will be on the road.

Hope remains, as I passed through today a tractor with one of those giant roller brushes was parked near the peak of the run near the Blue Ridge Parkway ramp. A good brushing would bring the road up to snuff, let’s hope that tractor does the job.

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - NC 215

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – NC 215 – I was hoping the road surface would end up like this section on the south side of the Blue Ridge Parkway – so sweet!

I’ll keep you informed, as it gets cleaner with time all will be well and this outstanding ride will be back atop the list of best motorcycle roads in North Carolina.

You’ll find these roads on America Rides Maps motorcycle pocket map #6 – The Best Motorcycle Rides EAST of Great Smoky Mountains National Park along with another 50 or so outstanding rides in the surrounding area and a guide to the numerous roadside waterfalls.

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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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Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – NC 215 Update

After hearing of several wrecks this weekend I decided I’d better make another run out to NC 215 near the Blue Ridge Parkway to check the status of the road work. The photo shows the current state – a new coat of gravel.

Best Motorcycle Rides in NC - NC 215 - new gravel

Best Motorcycle Rides in NC – NC 215; This rider made the right choice for him, hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Fresh gravel on NC 215 at this stage of the repaving, it will get better soon.

If you like drifting your motorcycle and power sliding through turns, it doesn’t get much better than this. A topcoat of gravel over s smooth hard base makes for ideal conditions. I had a blast!

Most riders though are going to find this the worst of conditions, and for now you’d better avoid it until the next phase of roadwork is completed. I’ll keep and eye on it and let you know when it improves.

Best Motorcycle Rides North Carolina - NC 215

Best Motorcycle Rides North Carolina – Paving on NC 215 has started from the top down. You can see one lane done here, still a way to go.

ADD –  Looks like US 276 is done, nice pavement, but still no road markings. Read More about what’s going on here – http://smokymountainrider.com/?p=5031

You’ll find these roads on America Rides Maps motorcycle pocket map #6 – The Best Motorcycle Rides EAST of Great Smoky Mountains National Park along with another 50 or so outstanding rides in the surrounding area and a guide to the numerous roadside waterfalls.

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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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Top 10 Motorcycle Rides – Pacific Coast Highway vs. Blue Ridge Parkway

We’ve all probably seen those lists of the top 10 motorcycle rides in the USA – typically a rehash of the same roads again and again. As the leading expert on motorcycle riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway I make an effort to get out and see those other top 10 motorcycle rides to see how they stack up to the one I consider best. I’ve just returned from riding the last good section of the Pacific Coast Highway in California and here’s my biased opinions of how they compare.

Top 10 Motorcycle Rides - Pacific Coast Highway vs. Blue Ridge Parkway

Top 10 Motorcycle Rides – Pacific Coast Highway vs. Blue Ridge Parkway – The stunning scenery is often enveloped in thick sea fog. Note the traffic mid-week mid-day. I’d imagine weekends are worse.

Over the years I’ve ridden all but one of the good sections of the Pacific Coast Highway. The fact that there are good and not-so-good sections on the long western ride is one major difference between the two roads – there are no “not-so-good” sections on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The scenery is stunning and beautiful as the coastal road traverses the high cliffs and rocky beaches along the western shore. The one remaining section I just finished riding is the Big Sur area in central California.

Top 10 Motorcycle Rides - Pacific Coast Highway vs. Blue Ridge Parkway

Top 10 Motorcycle Rides – Pacific Coast Highway vs. Blue Ridge Parkway – this trip I rented a 600cc entry-level sport bike in Los Angeles and headed north. For this ride, a performance bike is wasted, it’s much better suited to a big cruiser.

Located between San Francisco and Los Angeles, the Big Sur area is found just south of Carmel. Further south the seaside road is pretty built up with homes and businesses and sections of freeway and holds little appeal to me as a pleasant and scenic motorcycle ride. Same to the north as you get into the San Francisco area. While this area was nice, my top pick for the best section of the Pacific Coast Highway would be the section through Oregon, though this is a good one.

Top 10 Motorcycle Rides - Pacific Coast Highway vs. Blue Ridge Parkway -

Top 10 Motorcycle Rides – Pacific Coast Highway vs. Blue Ridge Parkway – The landscape is quite a contrast to the lush forests of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Where are the trees? Too dry and harsh.

Contrary to what you might expect, the Pacific Coast Highway is not entirely on the coast. It diverts inland in many places, away from the cold ocean waters into the rolling dry hills. To the north in Washington and Oregon, that sometimes takes you into the redwood forests, and a brief section did so near Big Sur. Mostly though, these inland diversions run you through the dry and rolling hills almost monotonous in appearance. You won’t find the lush green landscape of the eastern mountains covered with trees.

Top 10 Motorcycle Rides - Pacific Coast Highway vs. Blue Ridge Parkway -

Top 10 Motorcycle Rides – Pacific Coast Highway vs. Blue Ridge Parkway – There are plenty of places to stop alongside the road and savor the views. The sun poked through the clouds so rarely I never got a really clear photo.

While the terrain is almost desert dry, it’s more likely to be chilly than hot. The frigid waters of the Pacific cool the coastline even in the midst of July to where you’ll want some warm gear with you. The cold water also creates a thick sea fog which reaches far inland and usually doesn’t pull back to reveal the views until the afternoon. Riding early in the day is too often a disappointment when the thick fog hides the views you’ve come so far to see.

Top 10 Motorcycle Rides - Pacific Coast Highway vs. Blue Ridge Parkway

Top 10 Motorcycle Rides – Pacific Coast Highway vs. Blue Ridge Parkway – Of course, I poked my wheels down several of the few side roads that lead in from the coast – Carmel Valley Road was one of my favorites for challenging curves a good views.

The greatest contrast between the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Pacific Coast Highway is the amount of traffic. While there are curvy and engaging sections of the road, you’ll rarely be able to enjoy carving through them as there is almost always a car, RV, or commercial traffic to slow you down just when you want to crank it up. While there can be times of traffic on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the ride is constantly scenic, always 2 lane, and without interruption for it’s entire 469 mile length.

Top 10 Motorcycle Rides - Pacific Coast Highway vs. Blue Ridge Parkway

Top 10 Motorcycle Rides – Pacific Coast Highway vs. Blue Ridge Parkway – Once done with the coast, I went back to some of my favorite California riding, the mountains and twisty canyons that run through them. Much hotter in the interior.

The Pacific Coast Highway should be on your bucket list of places to visit on your motorcycle tours. It deserves to be on the top 10 best motorcycle rides lists, principally for the scenery, but not the riding experience. There’s just too much traffic and diversions onto highway and through towns and cities. Honestly, I find riding the canyons and mountain passes in California much better riding on a motorcycle if you more enjoy an engaging and challenging road with little traffic impair your ride.

Top 10 Motorcycle Rides - Pacific Coast Highway vs. Blue Ridge Parkway

Top 10 Motorcycle Rides – Pacific Coast Highway vs. Blue Ridge Parkway – Looking back towards Santa Barbara you can sometimes see the Channel Islands from one of my favorite rides CA33 – the Mariposa Highway. It’s a twisty climb from Ojai and a lot of fun on a motorcycle.

I had a good experience renting from Racy Rentals in Los Angeles – if you’d like to see about a rental bike go to http://www.racyrentals.com/

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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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Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Secrets

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Secrets

Here’s another bunch of the best motorcycle rides in North Carolina that few ever discover – it’s a nice loop ride that includes a section riding the Blue Ridge Parkway

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Sandy Mush

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - This loop ride will surprise you with some very challenging roads, nice scenery, and places you'd never see otherwise.

The roads shown south of I-40 are pretty well known biker roads. US 276 runs from Waynesville to the Blue Ridge Parkway, always a popular North Carolina motorcycle ride. The section of the Blue Ridge Parkway shown includes Mt. Pisgah and The Pisgah Inn. NC 151 is legendary for it’s treacherous curves as it plunges towards  the valley that leads into Candler.

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Pisgah View

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - the view from the Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway represents others on this section of the road - outstanding!

Most riders then point their wheels to I-40 or US 19 and miss out on the roads that lie north of I-40. This area gets little attention from motorcycle touring visitors who are lured to the more publicized roads elsewhere. To the east lie the suburbs of Asheville, the west is mostly rural valley farms.

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - NC 151

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - The section of NC 151 which descends from the Blue Ridge Parkway is full of tricky curves.

The two primary roads north of I-40 are Newfound Road which runs from Canton to Leicester, and Leicester Rd (NC 63) which runs into Asheville. Both are decent rides, particularly the west end of NC 63 as it climbs out of the valleys to intersect NC 209 – The Rattler (Click for ride guide). Still, they are the most heavily used roads so this route avoids them in favor of the empty two lanes which provide a much more relaxing and fun scenic motorcycle ride.

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Hookers Gap Rd

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Hookers Gap Rd has little traffic and wonderful curves as it climbs over a mountain.

You’ll want to pay attention to the map and watch for the turns as it’s easy to wander off on the maze of small surrounding roads. The turn onto Hookers Gap Rd is not well marked and the road can be hard to spot, but the ride is worth the effort. You’ll also find a short unpaved section of road where Morgan Branch Rd runs into S. Turkey Creek Rd. Be sure to veer right and take the high road where N. Turkey Creek meets Earlys Mountain Rd. NC 215 makes a nice alternative to NC 110 leading out of Canton.

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Earlys Mtn Rd

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Earlys Mountain Road is one I often ride in winter. The valleys will be clear while snow covers the higher elevations. A nice ride any time of year!

You’ll enjoy a variety of motorcycle riding experiences on this nice loop ride. The valley roads often follow along rushing streams or wind through twisty mountain passes. You’ll enjoy farms and pastures, the park atmosphere of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the contrast of the massive paper mill when passing through Canton. There are historic buildings and timeless views.

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Beaverdam Rd

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - If you ride Beaverdam Road north from Canton when you crest the mountain the Sandy Mush Valley view explodes as you plunge down the steep hillside.

Step-by-step Route: (uses NC 215 instead of NC 110, either does the job)

  • Start in Canton. Follow NC 215 to Bethel.
  • 5.4 mi Turn left  @ stop sign onto Sonoma Road. Junction NC 215 and Sonoma Road.
  • 6 mi Turn right @ stop sign onto NC 110. Junction Sonoma Road and NC 110.
  • 6.4 mi Turn left @ traffic light onto US 276. Junction NC 110 / US 276 / NC 215. Follow to Blue Ridge Parkway.
  • 20.9 mi Left turn onto ramp to Blue Ridge Parkway.
  • 21 mi Turn right  onto Blue Ridge Parkway (towards Asheville). Follow to next exit.
  • 27.3 mi Turn left onto NC 151. Junction Blue Ridge Parkway and NC 151. Steep descent with tight switchbacks.
  • 39.1 mi Continue through traffic light @ US 19 onto Dogwood Road. Traffic light. Junction NC 151 and US 19.
  • 41.4 mi Turn right onto Hookers Gap Road. Junction Dogwood Road and Hookers Gap Road. Poorly marked, be alert for this turn.
  • 46.5 mi Cross Newfound Road @ stop sign to continue on Morgan Branch Road. Junction Hookers Gap Road and Newfound Road.
  • 49 mi Unpaved section of road for short distance. Cross single lane bridge.
  • 49.4 mi Turn right @ stop sign onto S. Turkey Creek Road.
  • 52.4 mi Turn left  @ stop sign onto NC 63 (New Leicester Highway). Junction S. Turkey Creek Road and NC 63.
  • 53.7 mi Turn left onto N. Turkey Creek Road. Junction NC 63 and N. Turkey Creek Road.
  • 55.1 mi Keep right on Earlys Mountain Road. Junction N. Turkey Creek Road and Earlys Mountain Road.
  • Earlys Mountain Road becomes Big Sandy Mush Road.
  • 59.6 mi Turn left onto Willow Creek Road. Junction Big Sandy Mush Road / Willow Creek Road / Bald Creek Road.
  • Willow Creek Road becomes Beaverdam Road
  • 69.6 mi Turn right @ stop sign onto Newfound Road and follow into Canton. Junction Beaverdam Road and Newfound Road.
  • 71 mi Stop sign. Junction Beaverdam Road and Main Street in Canton.
Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Willow Creek Rd

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Willow Creek Rd has some pretty views and pretty challenging curves.

You can do this North Carolina motorcycle ride in half a day or less. It’s a good one to know about if you’re staying in Waynesville or Maggie Valley or at the Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s a nice one to fill the rest of the day if you visit Wheels Through Time Motorcycle Museum. If you get caught here during a rainy spell, it’s a quick one you can dart out and do between showers with easy options to run back for shelter if you get caught in a downpour.
Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - old store

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - riding through historic farms and tiny towns that date back a hundred years or more.

 

Don’t underestimate these roads, they are plenty challenging and worth the time to investigate. You’ll see sights others miss, and experience a part of the mountains rarely visited. You’ll pass by homes and farms that have been there for hundreds of years and many generations. It’s a ride through the history and heritage of the Smokies. Enjoy!

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Map #6These roads are just a few of the more than 50 great motorcycle rides found on America Rides Maps pocket map  #6 – The Best Motorcycle Rides EAST of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

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wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

Wayne Busch

– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com

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Learn Total Control

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

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Great Motorcycle Rides 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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The Blue Ridge Parkway’s Best Kept Secret Waterfall

The Mount Lyn Lowry overlook is  a large and welcoming pull-off on the Blue Ridge Parkway that holds more than appears on a drive-by.

Motorcycle the Blue Ridge Parkway in the early spring and you’ll be rewarded with sights unseen by those who visit later in the year. One of them is Woodfin Cascades at the Mt Lyn Lowry overlook (MP 446.7). Once leaves cover the trees when summer arrives, most of this waterfall disappears from view.

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Woodfin Cascades are viewed from the Mt. Lyn Lowry overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Another secret revealed to those who spend a little time observing at this Blue Ridge Parkway overlook is the 60 foot high illuminated cross atop Mt. Lyn Lowry. You can use the cross as a reference to fid the falls, they are located beneath it on the mountainside.

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The cross is located atop the mountain. Even though it's 60 ft tall, on a 6240 mountain it's just a speck! The falls are hiding behind the leaves.

Mt Lyn Lowry overlook is located on the section of the Blue Ridge Parkway between Waynesville at US 74 and Maggie Valley at US 19. This is one of the most scenic stretches of the national park as it climbs to the heights of Waterrock Knob, then descends to Soco Gap and Maggie Valley. There are numerous long range overlooks.  Be sure to bring your camera for some of the best views you’ll find.

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In spring, the entire 235 foot run of Woodfin Cascades can be admired. It dissapears when things green up.

Here’s a 2 min video closeup of Woodfin Cascades –

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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. 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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Motorcycles use caution – Rocks and Ice on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Early spring means early season motorcycle riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but nightly freezes cause lots of small rock slides.

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Rocky sections along the parkway are prone to slides

The National Park Service has done an outstanding job keeping the Blue Ridge Parkway open through the winter season as much as possible. I can’t remember spending as much time up there on my motorcycle, usually I’m on skis this time of year.

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Rocks in the road are a common hazard

Warm and sunny days through this mild winter often find me pointing my wheels to the high country to take advantage of the nearly empty scenic road as it carves along the high ridge tops more than 5000 ft in elevation. Clear winter skies mean you can see into the surrounding states on the horizon, and the naked trees reveal what is hidden in the forested valleys spread out below.

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If you see evidence of a large slide, be alert for the smaller ones which often follow.

Once darkness comes, the temperatures dive below freezing and sheets of ice build on the wet rock faces that line the roadway. As the sun warms them the next day, the ice melts and rains down along the roadside, and the repetitive freezing and melting cracks and loosens the rocks above causing small slides.

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When the sun hits the rocks, the ice quickly melts and falls.

The park service is quick to remove the bigger slides as they occur and you’ll see the piles of rock pushed to the roadside. Throughout the day the process continues and it’s not uncommon to find rocks in the road when the road carves along the rocky cliffs.

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Rocks, ice, and water litter this section of the road

Be alert whenever you see exposed rock along the roadside, particularly when rounding shady curves. The road may be clear where the sun rarely reaches, but as you come into the sunny side there may be surprises in the road.

1 minute video shows how noisy and active the melting and falling ice can be. It’s worth a stop to watch the spectacle.

__________________________________________________________________

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

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Good Motorcycle Rides near Waynesville and Maggie Valley, NC

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

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Turn off the highway onto Candlestick Lane

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

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

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Next turn onto Cabin Flats Road.

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

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

photo-balsam-mountain-inn

The Balsam Mountain Inn – historic, good food

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

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

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Dark Ridge Road – more fun than the 4 lane

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

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

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Under the tracks on Skyland Rd

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

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

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Whitewater Creek along Skyland Rd

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

map

Click on photos and map for larger views

__________________________________________________________________

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. 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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First Day of Winter – Let’s Ride the Blue Ridge Parkway!

So here it is, winter is officially upon us today and I spent the best of it on my motorcycle on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I couldn’t stand it any longer. It was so warm when I took the dog out this morning I knew I was going to HAVE to get on the bike. The weatherman says rain is coming to the Smoky Mountains so I knew I’d need an early start.

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I would have settled for a nice short ride - (if you believe that, you don't know me very well)

“Just a short ride” I told my wife.

If nothing else I’d top up the near-empty tank and make a short spin of it. Thinking of someplace close I could get a photo, I headed to the dam at Lake Junaluska. Sure looked like rain was coming. Got my photo, then where?

It’s been so unusually warm lately, I decided to ride over to Maggie Valley and see if the Blue Ridge Parkway was open. Slim chance of it, but just maybe….

Photo-Wayne-celebrates-at Waterrock-Knob

Made it to Waterrock Knob! Enveloped in clouds, raining, but totally unexpected at this time of year. That would have been enough for most riders - it just goaded me to push on.

Passing the man made snow at Tony’s Tube World as I left the valley, I started to consider alternatives. If snow could linger down low, it would sure be too cold up high for the parkway to be open. If it wasn’t, I could always cruise over to Cherokee.

I turned onto the ramp to the Blue Ridge Parkway at Soco Gap, and sure enough, the gates towards Cherokee were closed when I reached the top. Oh well.

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I stopped for a photo when I came down to the mile-high Fork Ridge overlook. You can see the cloud ceiling a few hundred feet above me and the clouds in the valleys below.

As long as I was here, might as well ride over to see if the gates were closed heading south though the chances were even slimmer as the parkway climbs to some of the highest parts in that direction.

Surprise, surprise, the gates were open and I rolled on the throttle!

I didn’t think I’d get far, but I might at least get a photo from one of the lower overlooks. As I climbed, I came nearer and nearer to the cloud bank that socked in the mountain tops. Still, the road was clear.

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It was a good day for riding so long as you stayed down low. At 4000 feet, the Woodfin Valley overlook shows it's fine at the lower elevations. I couldn't resist going higher.

I was stoked when I reached Waterrock Knob. Totally enveloped in thick clouds and peppering light rain, I stopped for another photo. This was awesome and a rare occasion this far into the cold season.

I was happy as I continued towards the next exit at US 74 in Waynesville, dropping back below the ceiling of clouds and out of the rain.

I almost left the parkway at Waynesville (see my video of Waynesville), as the next section of the Blue Ridge Parkway leads to the highest point on the road. No way it would be open. Still, I was curious as to how far I would get and amazed to find the gates open as I crossed over the highway.

photo-wayne-rides-his-motorcycle-to-the highest-point-on-the-parkway

Can't believe it! I rode to the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway on the first day of winter. Same day last year we got a snow that covered the yard until well into march.

I began climbing again, and before long was back in the wet cloud bank. Except for a few stray cars, I had the road to myself and enjoyed it with enthusiasm.

It was windy and poor visibility when I reached the high point, but it was another unexpected treat. Took another photo to remember it by.

I rode the rest of the way to Beech Gap and NC 215 in heavy wet fog (here’s a wicked ride nearby). No views to speak of, and lots of rocks and debris from the small slides that occur where rocky faces run close to the road. Winter thaws and freezes cause a lot of little slides during this season but it’s not much of a problem as no one is there to be affected by them.

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Road condition has improved marginally since this fall photo of NC 215 following the resurfacing. Still plenty of loose gravel and slippery corners to negotiate. Not for the faint-of-heart. It will improve, but how much?

The ride home via NC 215 (see my video of NC 215)is unchanged from my last visit – the road is till a mess. If riding sharp turns on loose gravel isn’t your thing, you will want to avoid it a while longer until things clean up.

Same day last year, we got snow so deep it laid in my yard for 3 months. This year I’m riding. I think I like this year better!

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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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