Best 1000 Mile Motorcycle Ride You’ll Ever Do

If you’re looking for that epic ride this is one of the best ever!

Motorcycles at overlook in Smoky Park

Enjoy an overlook in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

When you link these mountain roads together you’ll spend almost all your time on 2 lane roads, most of it National Parks or on scenic parkways, and you’ll experience some of the best motorcycle rides in the USA.

Skyline Drive – 105 Miles
The Skyline Drive runs the crest of Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. It starts at Front Royal and runs seamlessly into the Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway – 469 Miles

Blue Ridge Parkway View

Blue Ridge Parkway in NC

The Blue Ridge Parkway follows the highest ridge lines of the Blue Ridge Mountains through Virginia and North Carolina. It ends at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park – 47 Miles
The most visited National Park in the nation, ride across on US 441 passing from North Carolina into Tennessee at the crest, then turn west on Little River Road. Follow through to the Foothills Parkway.

Foothills Parkway – 17 Miles
Continue west on the scenic Foothills Parkway to reach US 129

The Dragon – 15 Miles

Springtime motorcycle ride on the Cherohala Skyway

The Cherohala Skyway in TN

Turn south on US 129 to enter the Dragon. Pass through and back into North Carolina. Continue south to Robbinsville, NC to head west again on the Cherohala Skyway.

The Cherohala Skyway – 52 Miles
Climb back up into the mountains and return to Tennessee near the mid-point of the ride. Turn south on 68 when you reach Tellico Palins, TN and follow this wonderful road into Georgia.

GA 60 – 23 Miles
Work your way east on GA 60 to Blue Ridge, GA, then continue on one of Georgia’s best motorcycle roads.

The Gauntlet – 133 Miles

Georgia

The Gauntlet ride in GA

Wrap it all up with a loop around the Gauntlet. You may continue on GA 60 or veer north on Skeenah Gap Road to start the loop.

Of course, this is just an overview. It’s a great introduction to riding in the Blue Ridge Mountains, still it only scratches the surface. It’s pretty straightforward to navigate, but you’ll want to do some planning. There are many variations and additions to make it even better.

9 map setYou’ll find this region covered in detail with America Rides Maps. In addition to these well known roads, almost 500 more are highlighted on a series of easy-to-read durable maps that will fit in your pocket with the info you depend on like out-of-the-way gas stations, mileage, and how to best link them all together.

The are more great motorcycle rides in the Blue Ridge Mountains than anywhere else. Any one of America Rides Motorcycle pocket ride maps is a vacation adventure in itself. With the full set you’ll have the freedom to point your wheels in any direction and know you’re on the best rides. Take a look here and see how easy it is – http://shop.americaridesmaps.com/Full-Southeast-Package-All-9-Maps-SE9.htm

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wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

Wayne Busch

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

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Blue Ridge Parkway Motorcycle Ride Strategies

Blue Ridge Parkway Motorcycle Ride Strategies:

Whether it’s a one day trip or part of an epic adventure, it’s good to have a strategy when setting out on a 469.1 mile long ride of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Here are some things to consider based on how long you have to make your end-to-end trip.

1 Day End-to-End

photo - grandfather mountain on the Blue Ridge Parkway

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

Some riders look for high mileage challenges. The Blue Ridge Parkway can be one of them – 470  miles with a 45 mph speed limit can be done in daylight on a long summer day. You’ll even have time to stop at a few overlooks for quick photos.

The key is “plan your gas stop so it’s close to a parkway exit to save time.” You’ll have to make a gas stop – choose the wrong exit and you can waste half an hour before you get to a pump.

I eat breakfast before and dinner after the ride, and pack a sub sandwich so I can eat at overlooks when I take breaks. Expect fog / clouds / mist / cool / damp in the morning, have a layer to shed in the afternoon. Go on a weekday, there will be less traffic. There’s no need to speed, but at the same time, if you’re slow through tight curves it’s going to be a long day. The ride is best done from north-to-south as it puts you in the highest sections in the afternoon when the clouds have lifted and it’s warmer.

2 Days Riding End-to-End

photo of parkway

You can really get away from it all on the Blue Ridge Parkway

2 days still means 2 pretty full days of riding.  You’ll want to be efficient with your gas stops and eating or it will sacrifice your time for sightseeing and enjoying the views. You’ll save time if you coordinate your time off the parkway well. Stop for gas where you can also eat lunch. Stay where you can eat or meals are close. You don’t need to feel rushed on a 2 day ride, but you do want to stay on track.

My strategy is to cover as many miles as possible the first day, then relax and enjoy the second day knowing you have less distance to cover. A 2 day ride is better done from north-to-south. Boone, NC is a good layover coming south. The North Carolina mountains really start to reach their heights south of Boone, you’ll be in them constantly the second day and have time to enjoy them. When going north I usually overnight near Hillsville or Floyd, or Meadows of Dan. You’ll have time to stop at Peaks of Otter and savor some of the best views from the Virginia section near the north end of the ride.

3 Day Ride End-to-End

photo  motorcycle on blue ridge parkway

If you want to stop and smell the flowers, plan at least 3 days.

If you want to get a full Blue Ridge Parkway experience, 3 days is minimum. If you’re planning to camp, it eases the pace.

With 3 days you can stop and see some of the cabins, the mill, and other sights along the road that you’d otherwise blow by.

3 days also opens the door to enjoying other outstanding rides in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Some connect to the parkway, some are close to it.

For the road warrior, it could mean doing the Blue Ridge Parkway in 2 days, then looping Great Smoky Mountains National Park to ride the Dragon at it’s western end on a three day blast!

Riding Sections of the Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway View

The highest section has the best views

If you see only one section of it, ride between Asheville, NC  and Maggie Valley, NC. That 50 mile arc goes from the low point in NC to the highest point on the entire road with much of it above 5000 elevation. There are frequent overlooks and sweeping views, dramatic drops and rocky passes.

Another great section is the high remote stretch between Asheville, NC and Little Switzerland, NC. Mt. Mitchell State Park makes a nice side trip to the top of the highest mountain in the east. Nice long range views.

The Epic Adventure

yellow motorcycle on blue ridge parkway

In it for the long haul!

The Blue Ridge Parkway is one part of the park road system. At the north end it continues as the Skyline drive into Shenandoah National Park for another 105 miles. At the south end, it meets US 441 to take you 30 miles across Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You can ride more than 600 miles on 2 lane twisty mountain roads entirely within our National Parks.

Leaving the National Parks you can then follow the parkways, skyways, and legendary back roads that weave throughout the south end of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I’d run through the Dragon, out across the Cherohlala Skyway, then down into north Georgia, looping back into the mountains south of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The “I don’t want to ride the parkway” strategy

A holiday motel in Maggie Valley

Maybe you already have a favorite place to stay – when you find one, explore all the great roads nearby.

Maybe you’re one of millions who have already enjoyed a motorcycle ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Maybe you find it’s more enjoyable to stay in one place than be on the move.

The best location to maximize your access to the best motorcycle rides is somewhere along the south side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You’ll find less traffic and congestion, numerous motels, cabins, and campgrounds. There are plenty of rooms on the north side of the park in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, but more of the good roads are on the other side of the park. Crossing through or going around Great Smoky Mountains National Park gets repetitive.100 Great Motorcycle Rides mapin the Smoky Mountains

Find a good base camp and get a copy of my 100 Great Motorcycle Rides in the Smoky Mountains map. You’ll spend more of your time riding that way. You’re surrounded by great roads, the map will show you how close they are! It couldn’t be easier!

Get map 100 Great Rides in the Smoky Mountains

see  The most detailed Maps Here – America Rides Maps

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

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wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

Wayne Busch

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

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Great Blue Ridge Motorcycle Ride Near Highlands, NC

Great Blue Ridge Motorcycle Ride Near Highlands, NC

Horse Cove Road to Whiteside Cove Road has a short section that is unpaved, but it’s worth riding through on your motorcycle adventures.

Best motorcycle rides

The main traffic light in Highlands, NC. Most riders make a turn. Continue straight ahead to ride Horse Cove Road.

Highlands, NC is just a few lies from the borders with Georgia and South Carolina. It’s a popular riding area with many roadside waterfalls. US 64 jogs to the north from town, NC 28 heads south. Both are great rides. If you’re up for a bit of adventure, try going straight to reach Horse Cove Road.

Best Motorcycle Rides - map

Horse Cove Road leads to a 0.8 mile section of graded hardback road. It then becomes Whiteside Road and intersects NC 107 south of Cashiers. The unpaved section is well maintained.

Section of Map #6 – The Best Motorcycle Rides Near Great Smoky Mountains National Park – EAST.

The plunge down the switchbacks on Horse Cove Road is both challenging and beautiful. It continues to twist and roll through thick forest dotted with homes. The unpaved section is smooth enough, you emerge by the lake beneath Whitesides Mountain. Whitesides Cove Road continues the romp through the woods to join NC 107 south of Cashiers.

Best Motorcycle Rides NC

Parked beside the frozen lake beneath the 1000 ft. cliffs of Whiteside Mountain on a winter ride.

You’ll find the best motorcycle rides in the surroundings on Map #6 and Map #7.

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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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 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

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

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

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A Fun Motorcycle Ride out of Maggie Valley, NC

photo-Wayne-shares-the-secret-roads

A Holiday Motel in Maggie Valley hosted the ride and fed us well!

13 bikes left with me, 2 returned. Here’s what happened on our motorcycle “fun ride” –

I came in Friday night to share my Secret Roads with the riders in Maggie Valley. With 200 great motorcycle rides on my map of the Great Motorcycle Rides of the Smoky Mountains, I helped them plan their rides for Saturday.

I then invited them to come on a “Fun Ride” in the morning.

photo-group-of-bikers

The riders from the A Holiday Motel stop for a group shot on The Rattler Motorcycle route.

So what’s a “Fun Ride”? Quite simply, I’m going out for a ride. You are welcome to tag along. No strings, no hassles, no fees, no one is responsible for you. It’s an opportunity to hook up with a “local” who knows the roads and will likely take you places you’d otherwise never see.

photo-motorcycles-on-the-rattler

Some of the group on NC 209 a.k.a. The Rattler.

A “Fun Ride” invites adventure. The route is decided on the fly. Nothing’s been scouted, no arrangements for meals, stops, etc. The group of riders I met at the A Holiday Motel in Maggie Valley this weekend wanted to ride to Hot Springs, NC and experience parts of “The Rattler” motorcycle ride. I got them on the best sections, and a whole lot more.

photo-motorcycles-on-nc-63

Such a great day to be out riding. Follow the leader!

Adventure? Yesterday I chose one photo stop in a “parking lot” that was more like a minefield, but everyone survived without dropping their bikes. We stopped for lunch at a place I’d never been when we were hungry and it was pretty darned good.  Some got chased by a dog. Each break spot serendipitously had something memorable about it (a parrot riding a motorcycle?). The weather was sweet, the roads clean, and I know there are other stories to be told.

photo-parrot-rides-on-motorcycle

Polly wants a diaper? Poor mans bike alarm? Touch my bike and you'll lose a finger! I wonder what this riders leathers look like! Seen at a stop on our ride through Hot Springs, NC.

The group paired down as the day wore on.  Some needed to be back earlier and followed the quick route home. No big deal, nobody is counting heads at the rest stops or will come back looking for you at the end of the day. We lost one rider when he wore out a tire, and another tagged along with him to insure he made it for repairs. Some followed along only as part of another ride they’d planned for the day. No rules, no hassles, ride your own ride.

photo-belts-show-through-tire

So how good were those roads? This tire tells the tale! Our only mechanical issue of the day and I knew where to get it fixed. Thanks to MR Motorcycle in Asheville for getting him back on the road.

I returned to the A Holiday Motel with two bikes at the end of the day. Others had peeled off at the Leather Shack, the gas stations, or went up for a quick ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway as we came into town. Those two, both women on their own bikes, had really enjoyed the day and had fun. I know I did. At the superb BBQ dinner provided by the A Holiday Motel that night, everyone was very happy after a nice day riding motorcycles through the Smoky Mountains.

photo-motorcycles-on-nc-63

Making our way back on the best section of NC 63. It was a great day of riding. This road was tame after what we'd been through earlier.

The next “Fun Ride” will be based out of The Lodge at Copperhead in Blairsville, Ga. on Saturday, May 19. On Friday evening, I’ll do a short “Secret Roads” presentation and share what I know in hopes you’ll find some great new rides to add to your collection. Afterwards, I’ll be out on the porch, most likely in the vicinity of the very nice bar at the Lodge. Come see me if you’re interested. Kickstands up at 09:30 on Saturday.

photo-the-lodge-at-copperhead

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

I’m going out for a ride on Saturday, May 19. Maybe, you’d like to tag along. Bring a full tank and an empty bladder.

A Holiday Motel in Maggie Valley

The Rattler” motorcycle ride

Map – Great Motorcycle Rides of the Smoky Mountains

The Lodge at Copperhead in Blairsville, Ga

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Photo-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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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.

Photo-woodfin-cascades-on-the-blue-ridge-parkway

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.

Photo-mt-lyn-lowry-fall

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.

photo-woodfin-cascades

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

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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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Smoky Mountains Adventurous Spring Motorcycle Ride Photos

Photo - Soco view

Morning view on Soco Rd - Click on pics for LG view

15 minutes from home and already I was fighting the urge to jump off the motorcycle and start snapping pictures. It was a beautiful Smoky Mountain spring morning. Rounding every curve the canvas repainted another fabulous scene as I droned down from the Blue Ridge Parkway at Soco Gap towards Cherokee.

Photo - view from Clingman's Dome

Clingman's Dome view

Not a car on the road ahead of me, I let the bike stretch it’s legs through the curves effortlessly riding every last inch of rubber as my Triumph Tiger charged down the incline in pursuit of it’s prey.

Photo - view from Roaring Fork Rd

Roaring Fork Road - must be Roaring Fork!

It felt so good, all is right with the world when you’re on your motorcycle in the mountains. Wrapping around a rock face with the mellow grace of a cat arching it’s back, I flicked left to begin my plunge to the valley floor on the first of the new roads I’d see today.

Photo - hairpin curve on Alpine Rd

Alpine Rd - one of my newest favorites

How had I missed this road? I’ve bypassed it many times on my passages to Cherokee. It’s not like I haven’t studied the area and it’s so close to home. Yet when we came through on a motorcycle ride Saturday, a road I was vaguely familiar with suddenly jumped out at me and said, “Come back and take a closer look”.

Photo - Cherokee Orchard Rd

Cherokee Orchard Road Overlook

The clue  that tipped me off  was the name – “Old Soco Road”. It suggested I was riding the “new” Soco Rd (US 19). “Old” Soco Rd was the way things used to be. Sometimes these “old” roads are gems.

It was like riding off a cliff and I had to quickly adapt to the more primitive road surface. Gliding through turn after turn I delicately parachuted through the  loose gravel and the windblown debris that had rained down on the switchbacks on this third day of roaring mountain wind. April was coming in with a bang.

Photo - Old mill

I passed this old mill again today

So began a day that took me across Great Smoky Mountains National Park and out into the wilds to the north as I clicked off road after road on my search for the best motorcycle rides. The afternoon would bring me into a violent storm navigated on what were now familiar byways through seemingly remote and isolated hidden valleys where angry streams threatened to crest their banks and wash across the pavement.

Photo - Tapoco Dam

The Dam at Tapoco

Looping around the west side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park near the end of the day, I’d arrive at Deals Gap to find the motorcycle resort closed due to the lack of electricity as a wind blown forest fire raged up a flank of the park consuming the lines and felling trees in it’s path. I’d squeeze through a gap between the fire trucks parked on a back road to ride through the smoke and smolder where crews fought the flames and mended the wires.

As the day drew to an end the lightening and rains caught up to me again, followed me home bringing the fury of the storm with them, and toppled trees that would have me without power for the next few days.

I’ve lost a couple days of work and will now double-down to make it up. With each new day the grays and browns of winter give way to the soft pastel greens of emerging leaves as spring wrestles the cold grip from the old season to bring the warm blooms of the new.  The fuse is lit for the explosion of color. It’s time to point your wheels towards the high country, its ready for you.

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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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The Motorcycle Ride that Shouldn’t Be There – Go with the Flow

Photo - old mill in Tennessee

Sights like these are the rewards for exploring the back roads. So few ever see them.

“Turn around. Go back. You’re missing something”. The signs were there, little hints and clues that more was going on than meets the eye. It was near time to head for home but I couldn’t shake those compelling thoughts and I swung the motorcycle around.

I’m not unfamiliar with the area. I’d studied it in depth and detail and ridden through it seeking out great motorcycle rides of which I’d already found a slew. I was on such an exploration now following a road I’d selected as having a good chance of being a decent ride, and it had rewarded me with a nice twisty rolling romp through the foothills of English Mountain in Tennessee that my motorcycle seemed to enjoy as much as I did. Still, I felt there was more here.

Photo - Douglas Dam, Sevierville, Tennessee

My travels included a stop at the Douglas Dam near Sevierville. While not very scenic in winter, it's a nice place for a break.

I wasn’t sure exactly where I was. It’s not that I was lost, I knew contextually where I was in relation to other roads and landmarks. But the road names were not familiar anymore, they didn’t match what I had planned out on paper. That happens often enough as I don’t so much ride by the suggestions on the map but by how the roads flow one into another – the natural route. I’d turned left at the stop sign to see where this new road connected to the main artery, but I’d seen it maintained it’s character to the right as well, and it was calling me back.

The natural flow of a ride is something thats very hard to pick out from a map or satellite imagery.  When a web of roads connected and intersect, there’s typically a path of least resistance. It’s the instinctual choice you make when two roads meet, the split second decision you make to follow the dominant or more interesting road as you cruise along. It’s the way that keeps you moving, keeps the ride going, it’s what you’re looking for.

Photo - B&W view from the Foothills Parkway

It was a cool, damp, overcast day, a mood better captured without color. View from the Foothills Parkway on my way home.

I couldn’t ignore the clues. The old mill I’d stumbled upon meant this was a long established community that had been connected enough to support such commerce. There would be old roads leading to it. There was the sign for Hidden Caverns – roads to tourist attractions are usually well kept. As I started up the valley, the “Chains and 4-Wheel Drive Required in Winter” sign told me somebody had a reason to go this way, even when the snows come.

The climb was “steep as a mules face” and I expected the quality of the pavement to evaporate as I reached the heights, yet it maintained. Heck, there was even a painted line you could make out in places – that’s a good sign. I rolled on with pretty much certainty the road would just end when the mountaintop was reached, but it didn’t. It snaked around the crest a bit, then plunged down the back side. It was easy to pick the right path up high as all the connecting roads were unpaved, but as I cascaded towards the valley I went with the flow, following the natural course of one road leading into another. The lower I got the more certain I was this ride would lead to familiar territory, but where would it come out?

I finally came to a stop sign and recognized where I’d arrived. I knew this next road, it was one I’d already selected as a great motorcycle ride. It led to more. I then realized where I must have travelled, through an area where I didn’t think there was a decent paved road, an empty white space on the map no longer. It had already been a good day. This great motorcycle ride was the icing on the cake. I can’t wait to go back!

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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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Still More Great Motorcycle Rides Near The Tail of the Dragon – Georgia Beckons

A quick look at a map will reveal Georgia is much closer than you thought, and the mountains which make for the great motorcycle rides in North Carolina and Tennessee do not know anything about state borders. While they play out once they reach Atlanta, they do not give up without a strong effort. The region has been a popular motorcycle paradise for as long as I can remember.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qs1fk74FmQQ

The most well known motorcycle rides such as Wolfpen Gap, Suches, Blood Mountain, Blue Ridge, are a favorite destination for motorcycle riders from points south. As they are the first that motorcycle adventure tourers reach, and are so easily accessed from the major metropolitan areas, and are such great motorcycle rides, they tend to get all the attention. Like the Tail of the Dragon, they attract thousands of riders who come for the challenging roads and beautiful mountain scenery.

Photo - View from the Nottely Dam

Riding across the Nottely Dam in North Georgia

Because these notable motorcycle rides get all the attention, it’s just like the situation at the Tail of the Dragon – some of the best rides get overlooked. There are plenty more and you don’t have to spend hours to reach them.

Photo - Dales pit stop in Suches, Georgia

Dales, a popular pit stop at Wolfpen Gap is strategically located at the intersection of some of the most popular motorcycle roads.

In my comprehensive explorations of the North Georgia area, I discovered a surprising number of wonderful two lane mountain back roads which either straddle the border with North Carolina or lie just beyond it. Once you get off the main arteries and away from the traffic, there are hundreds of miles of wonderful twisty and scenic two lane roads to discover and enjoy. I had quite the adventures on my many trips into the area.

Photo - Bikes lined up at Dales

The parking lot at Dales is a constant parade of motorcycles here to enjoy the fabulous rides.

Don’t let the videos fool you. It’s not all screaming sport bikes like the Tail of the Dragon, though if that’s what you’re looking for it’s here to be found. There are some really great rides just over the hill you can have all to yourself and make your motorcycle vacation a memorable experience.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMaBFEg72sk

So far I’ve suggested:

Guess what? There’s still more to come. There are more great motorcycle rides in the Smoky Mountains than anywhere else in the nation. Plenty more to turn you on to.

Visit America Rides Maps to get an idea of the thousands of miles of great riding just waiting for you to discover.

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