Motorcycle Loop Ride near Hot Springs, NC

French Broad River in Hot Springs, NC

French Broad River

The small historic town of Hot Springs, NC, has long been a familiar pit stop for mountain area motorcycle riders. It is situated north and west of Asheville near the border with Tennessee on the banks of the French Broad River. The town is popular with rafters and hikers, has couple biker friendly places to eat, and there are natural hot springs to soak in at the spa.

Hot Springs, NC

Hot Springs, NC

Motorcycle riders are attracted to this area for the wonderful and tricky two lane back roads which thread through the surrounding mountains. The newfound popularity of NC 209 a.k.a. “The Rattler” as one of the top 10 motorcycle rides in the Blue Ridge Mountains is bringing more motorcycle touring enthusiasts to discover this playground of nice biker roads.

Hot Springs to Flag Pond Motorcycle Ride Map

The map shows a motorcycle loop ride that takes you across the border to Flag Pond, TN., then loops you back to Hot Springs.

  • Leaving Hot Springs, go east on US 25 / 70 making the gentle climb then descent to the junction with NC 208 at Hurricane.
  • Turn north (left) and follow NC 208 along the winding river. As you come to the junction of NC 208 and NC 212 note the small bridge over the creek. Guntertown Road is on the right just before the bridge, NC 212 is at the stop sign once you cross the bridge.
  • The north leg ( NC 212 / TN 352 ) of the triangle shaped motorcycle ride is a pretty nice cruise following along creeks and streams for the most part with a few tricky curves thrown in to keep you on your toes.
  • The east leg ( TN 23 / US 23 ) is pretty relaxed riding, there are a couple passing zones on the long inclines. You’ll want to keep an eye out for the turn onto Big Laurel Road, then hold on for the wild ride back.
  • Big Laurel Road is the south leg of the loop and full of tricky curves. Be alert for scattered debris in a couple of the hairpins around bluff faces. Walnut Creek Road spurs off to the south, be sure you veer in the correct direction when you reach this junction to remain on Big Laurel Road.
  • Guntertown Road leads you east to the small bridge on NC 208. Retrace your path to return to Hot Springs.
Motorcycles on Big Laurel Road

Big Laurel Road

The roads in this area can be extremely challenging and tight. If you prefer an easier course, the ride to Flag Pond on NC 212 / TN 352 can be done out-and-back. There is a large pull off riders use for a break at the junction of TN 352 & TN 23.

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Wayne Busch

– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed, comprehensive, 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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How I Dress for Winter Motorcycle Riding in the Blue Ridge

How I Dress for Winter Motorcycle Riding in the Blue Ridge

How I Dress for Winter Motorcycle Riding in the Blue Ridge

How I Dress for Winter Motorcycle Riding in the Blue Ridge – Clear skies, great views, low traffic are some of the rewards of winter riding. Dress right and it’s no big deal.

Don’t let the cold weather put an end to your motorcycle riding season. If you dress well for it, winter riding can be comfortable and fun even here in the mountains. It’s not all snow and ice all the time here in the Smokies. Even the highest sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway stay open for most of the winter. Here are some of my personal tips on dressing for winter motorcycle riding in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains, what works best for me.

Dress to adapt to the changing temperature. Often winter days start out very cold then get milder once the sun is high. Bundle up for the chilly start then simply zip your jacket open and loosen the seals at the wrists a bit once it warms. Using vents keeps you from having to stop and peel off layers.

How I Dress for Winter Motorcycle Riding in the Blue Ridge

How I Dress for Winter Motorcycle Riding in the Blue Ridge – With the right clothes, you can ride all day in conditions like this and never be cold.

Cinch and Seal – Before you head out, close all the vents on your jacket. Cinch wrists, ankles, and neck to keep out drafts and seal the warm air in. Snug up any adjustment straps on your jacket to trap warm air better.

A full face helmet is warmer – a balaclava or thin hoodie under the helmet helps when it’s really cold. Manage fogging by cracking the visor just the right amount, flipping it up at stops. Lifting your chin increases air flow, it sometimes works. Eventually your helmet temp equilibrates until you come to a stop again, etc. Fogging problems usually go away as the day gets warmer. Keep visors clean.

Get “Expedition weight” long underwear – go for the warmest, the best quality. You don’t want big seams, buttons and flaps, keep it simple and comfortable.

Landslide on the Cherohala Skyway last year. It was a gorgeous day in February.

Landslide on the Cherohala Skyway last February. It was a gorgeous day, don’t pass up these great opportunities to enjoy winter on your motorcycle.

Seal your inner layer – make your outer shirt a windblock layer that extends up your neck to the chin, and have a zipper so you can vent it. It’ll hold heat better and a zipper lets you vent when it warms.

Put the linings back in – If you took those quilted linings out of your jacket and pants for the summer, put them back in, as well as any waterproof or wind blocking linings.

2 socks, 2 gloves – Start with a warm thinner sock, then add a heavy duty second sock that extends up to your calf. Thin glove liners add heat under a good lined gauntlet style outer glove.

How I Dress for Winter Motorcycle Riding in the Blue Ridge

How I Dress for Winter Motorcycle Riding in the Blue Ridge – you can see so much more in winter when the leaves rare off the trees. It’s a new landscape to enjoy.

If you ultimately decide you enjoy year round motorcycle riding, heated electric gear is the way to go. It’s a big expense, but it lasts for many years. Go all the way and get dual controllers – you’ll want your exposed gloves warmer than your covered vest.

There is one thing you can do to help keep your motorcycle running or stored during the winter months – install a battery tender. It’s as simple as adding a couple wires to your battery terminals for the plug/connector, or if the bike is put up for the winter, just attaching a couple clamps to the battery terminals. Cold weather kills batteries, a battery tender will kept it alive and fresh and extend it’s life for many years. 

Photo-Whitesides-mountain-nc-motorcycle-by-frozen-lake

How I Dress for Winter Motorcycle Riding in the Blue Ridge – A minute after this photo was taken my bike lay on its side and I couldn’t pick it up on the ice. Read about it here – http://smokymountainrider.com/?p=1650

http://smokymountainrider.com/?p=1650

Got a winter riding question or tip to share?

If you enjoy photos of motorcycle riding in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains, like MY BLUE RIDGE MOTORCYCLING FACEBOOK PAGE.
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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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Great Motorcycle Rides North Carolina – The Rattler Motorcycle Map

Great Motorcycle Rides North Carolina – The Rattler Motorcycle Map

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Great Motorcycle Rides North Carolina - The Rattler

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

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

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

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - NC 209 The Rattler

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

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

Route: 

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

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

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

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

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

To continue on loop ride – 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

98.4 mi End of ride

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

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Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer

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 Celebrate Anniversary at The Lodge at Copperhead

photo-the-lodge-at-copperhead

The Lodge at Copperhead near Blairsville, GA sits on the Gauntlet Motorcycle Ride

While riding through north Georgia on our motorcycles, Jackie and I stopped in at The Lodge at Copperhead in Blairsville  yesterday. It was their anniversary and quite a celebration – a car show / bike show, poker run, live music, loads of prizes, and a healthy turnout.

Photo-the-Lodge-at-Copperhead-Dining

Jackie and I had lunch in the dining room. It was after 2, the crowd had thinned.

We’d spent the morning riding the great motorcycle rides that surround the lodge and planned to make it our lunch stop. Probably not the best day to come for lunch, the place was packed with bikers.  It’s one of my favorite biker friendly stops when in north Georgia.

photo-jackie-on-motorcycle

Jackie makes the turn onto GA 60, one of our favorite motorcycle roads in Georgia.

I’ve recently added nearly a dozen roads to my motorcycle maps of this area and we had a great motorcycle ride as I toured Jackie through a half dozen or more roads she’d never seen -they are there if you know where to find them. Of course, we also hit a few old favorites we never tire of as well.

Photo - View from the Nottely Dam

Riding across the Nottely Dam in North Georgia

Spring is early and the motorcycle riders have been enjoying it! Maybe it’s the high price of gas, but there seem to be less cars on the road – all the better for us on two wheels. It’s a great time to make a trip to the enjoy the fabulous motorcycle rides in north Georgia.

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Georgia holds great riding, historic spots, and wonderful scenery for the motorcycle rider

If you’ve ridden the Blue Ridge Mountains in north Georgia before, you know it’s time to come back. If you haven’t been there yet, it’s worth the effort to get on your bike and ride a day to get here and experience it for yourself.

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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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Great Motorcycle Rides Easy to Find Online

Great Blue Ridge & Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rides discussed live online @ Map Chat

I’ve kicked off a new series of live online interactive webinars discussing the best motorcycle rides in the Blue Ridge & Smoky Mountains called Map Chat.

First Tuesday of each month at 8 PM eastern time, join me as I review one of my America Rides Motorcycle ride maps in detail.

Get the schedule and links to the webinars at http://americaridesmaps.com/map chat.html

Here’s a 5 min edited version of the first of the Map Chat series where we discussed Map #1 – Great Rides Near the Start of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia.

The full (40 minute) version of the webinar is posted online at: http://youtu.be/8g4GatVrUNc

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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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image-virigina-motorcycle-ride-map

#1 Great Rides near the Start of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia

See  / purchase the map discussed – Map #1 Great Rides Near the Start of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia 
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Why so many great motorcycles rides in the Blue Ridge & Smoky Mountains?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo - morning on the Cherohala Skway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bikers pause to admire the stunning views in the Smoky Mountains

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

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

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

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

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

Why not start planning your motorcycle trip right now?

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

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Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer

Total Rider Tech Logo

Learn Total Control

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

Wayne is an advanced motorcycle instructor for Total Rider Tech teaching Lee Parks Total Control Advanced Rider Courses. It’s time you looked into advanced rider training to ride more confidently and safely, it will change your mountain riding experience. It worked so well for me I became an instructor! Total Rider Tech

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Colorado Mtn vs. Blue Ridge Mtn Motorcycle Rides

Photo-Denver

We based out of Denver. We spent the first afternoon in the city.

After almost 1000 miles in central California and nearly 850 miles in the beautiful mountains of Colorado I still say with confidence “There are more great motorcycle rides in the Blue Ridge & Smoky Mountains then anywhere else”.

I’ve been riding some fantastic scenic and challenging roads. I’ve loved every minute of it. I’d do it all over again (and probably will). There are some awesome motorcycle rides out there.

Still, when you compare them region by region based on quality, quantity, and concentration, I’ve yet to find anywhere that comes close to the great motorcycle rides in the mountains of the southeast.

Photo-Independence-Pass

Independence Pass - the best portion of the 150+ miles between Leadville and Aspen

Fond memories of this Colorado trip are many. Were I to pick the most outstanding of them I’ve experienced I’d have to steer you first to Independence Pass which runs between Leadville and Aspen. It was so good I talked my partners into riding it twice.

Independence Pass is a good long motorcycle ride, 30 – 35 miles. The climb from one side of the divide to the other reaches over 12000 feet in elevation, twice the height you’ll find in the Smokies. Heck, in most cases you’re already higher than the Smoky Mountains from wherever you start a Colorado mountain motorcycle ride.

However, those extreme altitudes come with blessings and costs.

Photo-independence-pass

One of the most dramatic landscapes and toughest rides - Independence Pass

The blessings are many. One of the first things I noted was how clear the Rocky Mountain air is. Accustomed to the blue hazy skies that give the Smoky Mountains their name, the crisp Colorado air is like getting a new pair of glasses – you’re suddenly amazed at how much sharper and vibrant the world appears.

When you’re atop such lofty heights, that clear dry air and deep blue Colorado skies brings a sharp contrast and definition to every vista. I kept thinking it’s impossible to take a bad picture in the mountains of Colorado, it’s so dramatic!

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A break on one of the highest paved roads in the nation - Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountains National Park

Those high elevations also provide such commanding views, I’m sure you can see more than 100 miles from some points.

The landscape is dramatic. Imposing at times, stark at others, it’s a land of harsh extremes of searing heat and brutal winters, desolate isolation and hardscrabble existence.

Riding a motorcycle through such a rugged landscape at those elevations though, comes with a price.

The higher you go, the worse the road conditions get. Patches of snow in August hint at how harsh the conditions are. These roads are isolated and remote, and the season for repairs is short. You’re in for some rugged riding and a challenge to tackle at speed on a motorcycle.

Phot0-Leadville

Leadville, CO - elevation 10,200 ft. It might have been the capitol of Colorado had the silver lasted.

The massive scale of the great mountains add to the challenge. Riding a narrow twisty bumpy dirty road with no guardrail and a sheer drop off the edge can be intimidating. Jackie spent the harrowing parts riding in the wrong lane if it hugged the cliff face.

All of the high roads are gated. They are closed to traffic most of the year as they are impassable. The season to enjoy them is short, and you won’t be the only one taking advantage of the narrow window of opportunity. Plan on running into local and tourist traffic, especially on weekends.

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Trail Ridge Road view nearly 12,000 ft. up.

Like in California, these mountain passes stand in isolation. It’s a vast landscape and the distance between roads is just as vast. You’ll spend as much time or more on long straight flat runs across the open prairie getting to the next great motorcycle ride.

I can appreciate the beauty of the high desert, the loneliness of the historic small towns,  the weathered remnants of a cowboy / miner history that dot the landscape even as you scream along with an open throttle to cover the distance, but any fool can twist a wrist into the triple digits in a straight line.

photo-eleven-mile

Near Eleven Mile - one long, rough, straight road across the prairie

Too soon, those rides between the rides become commutes for me, and I long to use anything but the center stripe of my tire rubber. I’m happiest the closer I get to the edge of my tires.

When it comes to non-stop curvy and scenic roads, you just can’t beat the motorcycle rides in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains.

TRIP LOG:

Tuesday:

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Historic Lodo in Denver - roof top water tank

We flew into Denver Tuesday and spent the afternoon in the historic Lodo section.

Rich in Victorian architecture, it’s the happening place within the great city.

photo-Denver

Old meets new in the city

First stop was a brewery, and once our tanks were full, we spent the evening walking around and taking in the sights.

Wednesday:

We spent the morning doing some hiking near Evergreen.

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View atop 3 Sisters

I had fun scrambling to the top of one of the 3 Sisters rock formations.

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Young elk

Early in the hike, we rounded a bend to find a huge heard of elk bedded down along the trail.

We picked up the bikes late in the afternoon, and made loose plans for the next few days of riding.

Thursday:

We decided to make it a day ride.

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Sleet and a few flakes up high

The first of the twisty roads was Bear Creek Canyon. Nice, but traffic tempered true enjoyment.

We then followed Clear Creek Canyon Rd and the Peak to Peak Highway to Estes Park.

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Break just past the middle of nowhere

Entering Rocky Mountains National Park, we cruised Trail Ridge Road.

Turning south, we followed 40 to Winter Park and took our lunch break.

We returned via Berthoud Pass  to the Interstate and made one more pass through Bear Creek Canyon on our way in.

Friday:

We loaded up the bikes for an overnight trip to Aspen and got an early start.

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Rampart Range Rd - finally, a place to exercise a sport bike!

We started with a very nice run through Deer Creek Canyon and I got the first chance to see just what my BMW rental motorcycle capable of.

It led to Pleasant Park Rd, then onto 285 to reach Pine Valley Rd / Deckers Rd.

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Fatty's Pizza in Brekenridge

We passed the Rampart range and Pikes Peak with a loop south on 67 / Teller County Rd.

24 led us north again till we detoured out to Eleven Mile on SR 90.

Back on 24, we next veered north on 9 into Brekenridge for lunch.

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Stormy skies over Leadville

Next stop was Leadville. Coming into town we hit festival detours so we stopped to see what was going on.

We continued on 24 to Twin Lakes to pick up SR 82 – Independence Pass.

We arrived in Aspen at dinner time and found an affordable room in Snowmass to pass the night.

Saturday:

photo-Independence-pass

Paused in Independence Pass

By 07:30 we were on our way hoping to get to Independence Pass before the traffic to enjoy a “spirited” run on the wild road. We were not disappointed.

Riding a road like this at speed takes every skill you’ve got! It’s terribly rough and broken, gravel and rocks in the turns, bumps, patches, and potholes will have your full attention and you’d better be able to change your line quickly even when your knee nears the pavement.

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My wife jackie - outstanding talented rider

We retraced our tracks to Leadville for a good breakfast, passed through Frisco, and got on the Interstate back towards Denver, then left it again at Idaho Springs for a run over Mt. Evans.

Saturday afternoon is not the time for a ride over Mt. Evans. It’s another rough and challenging high mountain road, tight and curvy, and choked with traffic. Bummer.

photo-stopped for a photo

Put that damn camera away and let's get going!

With a final pass through Bear Creek Canyon we returned to Denver.

I was sad to part with my rental bike, a BMW F800 S. I’m really starting to enjoy sport bikes and the beemer was not only quick, but comfortable for all day riding.

Sunday:

We flew home.

We’d hit some of the classic rides. I will go back again. I’m sure there are plenty more roads waiting.

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Wayne (author) and Jackie with our color coordinated rental rides. She really liked the BMW 650 GS riding it as if she'd had one for years. It felt like a chopper with ape hanger bars after riding the sporty F800 S, and I knew I'd made the right choice for me.

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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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Motorcycle Friendly Places – Hampton Inn & Suites, Sapphire, NC

photo-US-64-view-Cashiers

One of my favorite views is just 10 mins from the Hampton.

Few places rival the beauty surrounding Sapphire, NC. The small town and those surrounding it host some of the most expensive real estate in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Flanked by massive granite balds, host to the Cullasja River Gorge with it’s many roadside waterfalls, and nestled amongst the wilds of several national forests with views that will take your breath away, the area is laced with outstanding motorcycle rides.

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Above the clouds on my morning ride

On any weekend, 2 lane US 64 throbs and buzzes with motorcycles who come to play on the wonderfully twisty and scenic roads. Of course other tourists come as well, and US 64 rarely gives the motorcycle rider the freedom to enjoy its serpentine turns to full delight as they insist you share the road. Few tourists ever venture off the main drag though, and the many back roads which course over the mountains and along the valley streams give the biker what he really came for – great rides with outstanding views devoid of traffic.

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Hampton Inn & Suites, Sapphire, NC

Sitting in the heart of all this, the Hampton Inn & Suites in Sapphire makes an ideal place to base out of for an enjoyable stay while exploring all the region has to offer. Level parking, set back from the road, and close to good dinging and other amenities, the Hampton provides a quiet and relaxing place with a decor and atmosphere that reflects the quality of the surrounding area. I toured 3 different styles of room each of which deserves the descriptor – “posh”. I would be very happy to stay in any of them, it’s the kind of place I seek out in my travels.

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A comfortable place to gather and relax

It looks like an ideal place for those groups of motorcycle riders looking for a time they’ll remember fondly and come back to. 2 meeting rooms are available. The lobby is spacious and inviting, a good place to gather. All the amenities are at hand.

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Ride hard, rest easy.

The greatest thing about the Hampton is location. Roll out the driveway and you’re on the ride. Go west through Cashiers and Highlands to ride Wayah Bald and the Nantahala Gorge. The roads to the north – well, every time I go though there I come back thinking I don’t get that way often enough, they are so nice. Head east, and you enter my favorite area in all the mountains, home to some of the best rides I know of. To the south, the twisties which lead into South Carolina are outstanding. Whitewater Falls,

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Put your bike here.

the highest in the east is just a short ride from the hotel. The Dragon at Deals Gap is about an hour away, though the roads which lead you to it will have you all warmed up and ready to go when you get there, then go on to tackle the Cherohala Skyway. The best section of the Blue Ridge Parkway is the closest. As I add all these up, staying here makes a lot of sense.

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One of the roads I took going home

The sales manager was a rider, so she knows you guys. You’re welcome here. I’ll be adding the Hampton Inn Sapphire to the maps ASAP. The more I think about it, the more sense it makes to plan a stay here. It’s a total immersion in motorcycle rider’s bliss – point your wheel in any direction and the good roads are right there.

SAVE 10% on weekends, SAVE 20% during the week – Call and ask for your Smoky Mountain Rider / America Rides Maps discount.

Hampton Inn and Suites Cashiers/Sapphire Valley, N.C
3245 US 64 East
Sapphire, NC 28774
http://www.hamptoncashiersnc.com

 

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If waterfalls turn you on, you'll be in heaven. The Hampton sits at the heart of the "Land of the Waterfalls". Whitewater Falls, the highest in the east, is just a short ride, as are many others.

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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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Best Motorcycle Rides in North Georgia – digital soon?

Wow! It’s taken me 18 months to completely revise and update all my Smoky Mountain / Blue Ridge motorcycle ride maps, but the last of them is done – Map #9 “The Best Rides in the North Georgia Mountains” has been released.

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Roads are really bold, map is easy to and quick to read. Road descriptions on back of map.

If you have one of my Georgia motorcycle maps you honestly don’t need to replace the map you have. I had almost all of the really outstanding Georgia motorcycle rides on the earlier version. I did find a couple more really nice north Georgia motorcycle rides on the periphery of the main area of the map as you make your way to the classic rides  – you’ve got to ride GA 60,  Blood Mountain area, and I love to play back and forth across the North Carolina state line.

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Map #9 - The Best Rides in the North Georgia Mountains

So what’s the big deal? The reason this revision took so long was prepare the maps for digital use! I’ve looked at phone apps but decided the limiting factor in the mountains is reception. Live GPS positioning via phone just isn’t there yet for this region.

A solution I’ve been testing instead is map downloads which can be scaled and used from an ipad, ipod, iphone, or any other smart phone provided you’ve got a decent sized memory card. Got your phone? You’ve got your maps. It worked well on the ipad. I’ll be testing ipod, iphone, etc. next. If it goes well, you can expect to see them available in about 2-3 weeks.

So what about GPS? Next project. I have the software. I need the time.

See more about the new map here – goo.gl/ifTNr

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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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Blue Ridge Motorcycle Touring – Natural Bridge, Virginia

In general, I avoid the touristy sights on my motorcycle travels as I get my kicks from the road. It’s the hundreds of great motorcycle rides in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains I most enjoy, and that is best done with the kickstand up and the throttle open. I need a pretty good reason to park the motorcycle and go for a walk, and Natural Bridge, Virginia, is worth time the time to stop and see.

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The Natural Bridge, a Viriginia landmark worth seeing.

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The Natural Bridge Hotel, a historic landmark

Natural Bridge has been around for a long time. It was already a tourist destination when Thomas Jefferson visited. This 200 foot high natural arch started as a cavern millennia ago. Over the eons erosion collapsed the majority of it leaving only the dramatic and inspiring rock formation that has drawn thousands of spectators over the last few centuries.

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Natural Bridge Entrance and Gift Shop

This long history was part of the attraction for me. There are many early sketches and historic reports of the landmark displayed in the museum, it is part of our national heritage. This legacy though has come at the cost of commercialization of the natural attraction with manufactured ones added to woo the crowds and entice them to part with their dollars.

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I managed to escape the Dinosaur Kingdom

We passed on the wax museum, the butterfly room, and most all the other man-made enhancements designed to lure the tourist. I was particularly amused by the hook for the “Escape from the Dinosaur Kingdom” with a statue of a cowboy riding a dinosaur. Easy to pass on that one, I’m quite satisfied with the Flintsone’s version of pre-history. Yabba-dabba dumb, but I’ll bet the kids like it as well as the Haunted Monster Museum.

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The Indian Village re-creation.

We did walk the trail to view the re-created native indian village, but it pales in comparison to the main attraction.

We paid $18 a piece for a ticket that gave us partial access to all the attractions. All we really wanted to see was the Natural Bridge. It’s a short walk and worth the time, and while I we could have seen all the other kitschy stuff, I felt my money well spent avoiding it.

A side trip to Natural Bridge, Virginia is an easy and pleasant ride from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Exit near the James River Visitor Center on US 501 (milepost 63.7) or VA 130  a couple miles north (milepost 61.6, and the better ride). Follow Us 501 / VA 130 to Glasgow, turning right on VA 130 to pass through the small town for another 4 miles or so. Don’t worry, you can’t miss it when you arrive.

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View of the other side of the Natural Bridge

Natural Bridge, Virginia

The Natural Bridge and other scenic attractions nearby are found on Map #1 of the 6 map Blue Ridge Parkway series of motorcycle pocket maps by America Rides Maps. Don’t miss all the great motorcycle rides in this area.

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Great rides Near the Start of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia

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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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