A Good Motorcycle Ride – The Road to Nowhere

Road to Nowhere Motorcycle RideA scenic motorcycle ride on an abandoned road in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Road to Nowhere Motorcycle Ride Map

Lake View Drive in Great Smoky Mountains National Park was planned to arc around the north shore of Fontana Lake to connect to the southern lake loop road (NC 28) at the Fontana Dam. The project was abandoned about half way through and has come to be known as “The Road to Nowhere”.

Road to Nowhere Motorcycle RideThe road starts in Bryson City, NC as Everett Street. This is a great motorcycle ride to add to your lunch plans, a nice little side trip. There are a lot of good places to eat in Bryson City. One of them, The Cork and Bean, sits at the corner of this route (Everett St. / Main St.) in town.

The road climbs gently from town arcing to the west as Fontana Road. Its a section of gentle flowing curves.

Road to Nowhere Motorcycle RideThere is a sign at the park border. The road gets much tighter and from here on with curve after curve the whole way.

There are a few spots to pull off and get views of the lake.

The road ends at a paved parking loop. A series of brown slats barricade the road beyond.  You can just see the stone arch tunnel where the road ends from the turn-around. Hiking only once through the tunnel.

Road to Nowhere end Motorcycle RideThere are many stories and controversies over this road. Some see it as a boondoggle. The government has yet to compensate for the land. A family cemetery was isolated, the park service periodically ferries them by boat. Regardless, the result is a really curvy ride with some nice views we can enjoy.

It’s 8.5 miles from town to the end of the road, so you can make it a quick out-and-back ride or stop to savor the views and the wildlife. There are other nice roads nearby if you enjoy exploring the more adventurous back roads including some good unpaved roads.

Road to Nowhere Motorcycle RideYou’ll find this road on map #7,Map #8, Map 100 Great Motorcycle Rides in the Smoky Mountains, and others from America Rides Maps. There are more great motorcycle roads in the Blue Ridge Mountains than anywhere else – find them here;

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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

– 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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Feb 9, 2013 – Fresh photos of the landslide on the Cherohala Skyway

Feb 9, 2013 – Fresh photos of the landslide on the Cherohala Skyway

With temps nearing 60, I took the opportunity to ride out and see the landslide up close.

Landslide on the Cherohala Skyway - Temporary stoplights

Landslide on the Cherohala Skyway – Temporary stoplights regulate the flow through the area where one lane of this outstanding motorcycle ride is closed.

A few weeks ago the Smoky Mountain area was hit with drenching rains which caused a number of landslides. The most significant of them is on US 441 in the heart of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Many of these situations have already been addressed, but some will have effects into the early motorcycle riding season.

Landslide on the Cherohala Skyway  - one lane is closed.

Landslide on the Cherohala Skyway – fortunately there was enough room for a detour, only one lane is closed.

We hope the worst is behind us, but realize we’re only half way through winter. There is still the potential for more slides as the freeze / thaw cycles break rock and this is the time of year when most of them happen. Heavy rain is unusual and this slide is quite extensive. I suspect a retaining wall will eventually be constructed, but I wouldn’t count on a quick fix on this remote section of road.

Landslide on the Cherohala Skyway - The guardrail hangs dramatically

Landslide on the Cherohala Skyway – The guardrail hangs dramatically over the abyss

The slide happened on the North Carolina section of the road about a mile from the border with Tennessee. There are big overlooks on this scenic road located on each side of the slide. It at about 4800 feet elevation though the highest parts of the road are well above 5000 feet high. Views are gorgeous.

Landslide on the Cherohala Skyway - The pavement is undercut

Landslide on the Cherohala Skyway – The pavement is undercut here, getting near the edge made me nervous lest it give way! You can see how extensive and deep the chasm is in this photo.

A lot of soil was lost. It doesn’t seem practical to try to fill it in, the area seems to go 800 – 1000 feet down the mountainside. It has undercut the pavement, getting close to the edge made me a little nervous!

Landslide on the Cherohala  Skyway - remaining slope at the edges.

Landslide on the Cherohala Skyway – This photo shows just how much soil moved. You can see the difference compared to the remaining slope at the edges.

No telling why this section off the road let loose while others remain intact. It doesn’t appear much different or more steep than many other sections. It’s at one of the higher elevations so you wouldn’t think there was a lot of subterranean water flow, yet it happened.

Landslide on the Cherohala Skyway - - A view from the other side

Landslide on the Cherohala Skyway – A view from the other side helps you realize just how big this slide is.

I don’t expect a quick fix. While this is a popular and scenic road, it is not a vital through-way. It’s about as far away from civilization as you can get in this area of the mountains. The North Carolina county in which it occurred is one of the poorest in the state, and there is far more impact on tourism related to the major landslide on US 441 in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Landslide on the Cherohala Skywway  For all the hype it's a minor inconvenience

Landslide on the Cherohala Skywway – For all the hype it’s a minor inconvenience on this outstanding motorcycle ride!

It’s not so bad! The traffic lights are quick. There is rarely much traffic on this outstanding motorcycle ride, its still one of the top 10 motorcycle rides in the US despite this minor inconvenience. I would not change my plans, heck, there’s one more unique thing to see on this ride. The overlook closest to the North Carolina side has bathrooms, so it’s a popular place for a break. DO IT!

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wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

Wayne Busch

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

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

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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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Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway – in January?

I should be in Vegas – luck is with me today. Although the weather has been unseasonably warm here in the Smoky Mountains this week, it’s also been wet. Not that “Old Testament” deluge kind of wet, but a wintery wet with light but persistent rains.

photo-winter-view-of-cold-mountain

A winter view of Cold Mountain from the Blue Ridge Parkway near Mt. Pisgah.

In a normal year we’d have a bit of white on the ground, and I did see a rare patch or two today. It’s not the ideal season for motorcycling the Blue Ridge Parkway. In fact, the Blue Ridge Parkway is normally closed to traffic through this season due to the frigid conditions.

When I saw the sun this morning I knew a motorcycle ride was in order. There’s a weather front passing over with a few hours of blue sky before the snow moves in tonight. I wrapped up the mornings work and fired up the bike.

Photo-wayne-on-parkway

The weather looked great to the south, what a difference the other direction.

I just wanted a nice little ride. The threatening clouds on the northern horizon foretold this break in the weather was temporary, so I chose to just head south from Waynesville on US 276 and ride up to the Blue Ridge Parkway and back after running a few errands in town.

US 276 is a well know road to motorcycle riders and part of a classic loop called the “Pisgah Triangle” south of Waynesville. US 276 forms one leg of the triangle, the Blue Ridge Parkway the second, and NC 215 the third. It’s a “must do” fun ride if you’re in the Waynesville / Maggie Valley area.

photo-winter-view-blue-ridge-parkway

Winter riding in the Smoky Mountains can be as beautiful as the summer, just in a different way.

It takes about 25 minutes to ride out across Bethel Valley then follow the Big East Fork of the Pigeon River in the Pisgah National Forest and make the steep and twisting climb to the heights of the Blue Ridge Parkway at the Wagon Road Gap. The ramp to the Blue Ridge Parkway leads to the large parking area  overlooking Cold Mountain  (MP 412.2).

The overlook is accessible year-round. The parkway is gated on either side. The south gate (towards Cherokee) was closed, but the north gate to Mt. Pisgah was open so I took advantage of the opportunity to snap a few photos.

photo-clouds-on-the-blue-ridge-parkway

By the time I turned back, those clouds had swallowed up everything.

The blue skies didn’t last long, and by the time I had turned around nearing Asheville, the clouds were swallowing the views. The wind was gusting and I started to hit some wet stuff on the way back. Some of it was white.

It was a rare treat this time of year. Next time you’re passing through, take a motorcycle ride on the Pisgah Triangle. I had a great time on just one leg of it, and the other two are better!

haywood-county-postcard

A postcard from Haywood County, North Carolina shows the Pisgah Triangle

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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. 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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How to Make a good Deals Gap Motorcycle Ride Better –

Adding these two roads to one of the four most popular Smoky Mountain motorcycle loop rides near the The Dragon at Deals Gap makes the least of them measure up to the others.

Photo - morning on the Cherohala Skway

Morning on the Cherohala Skyway. I'm parked on the state line between North Carolina and Tennessee.

Smoky Mountain / Blue Ridge motorcycle riders who flock to ride The Dragon at Deals Gap typically take in other rides when in the area. One of the best Smoky Mountain motorcycle rides is a loop through Vonore and Tellico Plains, TN to take in the Cherohala Skyway. Another popular circuit is to loop around Great Smoky Mountains National Park crossing through the heart of the Smoky Mountains on US 441. A third great loop ride links NC 28 at Franklin, NC to Nantahala Gorge via Wayah Road. All of these are great loop rides in the Blue Ridge with unique characters.

The fourth most popular ride is to take the Cherohala Skyway west to Tellico Plains, then go south on TN 68. You then use TN 123 / NC 294 to head east, and follow US 74 / 129 north through the Nantahala Gorge to return to The Dragon at Deals Gap. This loop ride starts out with the outstanding scenery and enjoyable sweeping curves of the 50 mile long Cherohala Skyway as it crosses the Snowbird Mountain Range of the Blue Ridge. It gets nice again once you enter the curvy sections a few miles south of Tellico Plains on NC 68. It’s gets better and better the further south you go, though NC 68 can carry a bit of traffic on weekends.

Photo - Field of the Woods

The 10 Commandments at Fields of the Wood - big enough God can read them

Once you turn east on TN 123 / NC 294, the ride is still pretty good, but the road opens up and the ride is not as scenic and challenging as you progress. Here’s how to punch it back up to outstanding.

Watch for Fields of the Wood, it’s the closest landmark to the turn off onto Hiawassee Dam Access Road. Fields of the Wood is worth a stop to see and a nice place for a break. Those with devout religious leanings will be inspired by the hillside with the ten commandments written out in stone, as well as numerous other Biblical icons and monuments. For those inspired more by hellacious and challenging roads, Hiawassee Dam Access Road is next leading to devilish twists and curves.

Photo - Hiawassee Dam

The Hiawassee Dam is a nice spot for a break.

Turn onto Hiawassee Dam Access Road to start the fun. You may encounter a little traffic approaching the dam on weekends as many come for boat access to the lake and river. Once past the dam, the excellent and challenging road continues a course around the west side of the lake. Turn right onto Joe Brown Highway when you reach the end of Hiawassee Dam Access Road.

Joe Brown Highway is hardly what any of us think of when the word “highway” comes to mind. This isolated and remote twisty two lane back road is packed with curve after curve and some pretty decent Smoky Mountain scenery, though you’ll be paying more attention to the road than the horizons. It’s a whole lot of fun, usually carries very little traffic, and may be the best section of the entire loop, a nice contrast to the sweeping curves of the Cherohala Skyway.

Photo - Nantahala Outdoor Center

The Nantahala Outdoor Center on the river is another great break spot with bathrooms, good food, nice views, and the place to arrange a river trip.

Joe Brown Highway runs you right through downtown Murphy, NC to intersect US 129 / 74 at the junction with US 64 East. Turn north to follow the four lane to Andrews where it funnels down to two lanes again for the ride through scenic Nantahala Gorge. You’re bound to run into traffic in Nantahala Gorge, but the scenery along the popular whitewater river makes up for it. Avoid the gorge on weekends when possible as the buses hauling rafters and kayakers tend to bottle things up.

Once through Nantahala Gorge, turn left onto NC 28 and back into the twists and curves to return to The Dragon at Deals Gap.

Photo - View from Hiawassee Dam Overlook

There are nice spots for a break both atop and below the Hiawassee Dam. The road runs across it then continues around the lake.

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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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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 Birthplace of Tennessee – Best Seen on a Motorcycle

Photo - marble campfire

Who knows where this is?

It was the middle of nowhere yet it was the center of everything. I’d stumbled upon the birthplace of Tennessee.

I had low expectations. My research told me most of the roads I’d be riding today would hold little interest to the typical motorcycle rider who had come to ride The Dragon at Deals Gap and the Cherohala Skyway. None of the roads I’d ride on my 450+ mile travels would come anywhere close to those legends. Still, the morning held a surprise I never expected and made the efforts worthwhile.

Photo - Cherokee National Forest Road

Parked along Pleasant Mountain Road. It's typical of other roads nearby - of little interest to most. Still I check them all.

Arriving in Tellico Plains, Tennessee, after an early morning motorcycle ride where I’d had the whole of the Cherohala Skyway to myself, I pointed my wheel north onto TN 360 and my workday began. Within a few miles I’d reach the point where I’d previously abandoned my search for great motorcycle rides and the explorations would resume. Rounding a curve a green street sign flashed past with a name I recognized and I clamped on the brakes to swing around.

I could rule this road out as soon as I saw it, it was doubtful it would be of any interest. Consulting my map, I saw it connected to another I wanted to investigate, so I snicked into first gear determined to make quick work of White Plains Road and move on.

Photo - Tanasi Monument

The Tansi Monument - Tennessee gets it's name from here

It met Smoky Branch Road in a few miles where they both intersected Citico Road. I’d eventually loop back through Smoky Branch Road, also of little interest. Obviously Citico Road was the daddy in this area, the main thoroughfare of better quality, decent pavement, and sporting a faded double yellow line, a proper road.

I expected it would quickly peter out, but after several miles it continued to wind and snake through the mostly bland countryside and I started to wonder if it actually went somewhere in the big empty white space on the map. Curiosity aroused, I couldn’t resist investigating the Tanasi Memorial Site when the sign appeared.

Photo - Tanasi Monument

The empty and isolated setting quickly fills with visions of what must have been

Never heard of it. Turning the motorcycle onto Bacon Ferry Road I ventured out into the nothingness on the barely paved bumpy and potholed  single lane that led out onto a low finger of land surrounded by Tellico Lake. I rode past the pull-off, but a quick glance towards the lake had me circling back when I saw the shoreside monument.

Photo - Tanasi inscription

Inscription transcribed below

Tanasi

Capital of the Cherokee Nation

1721-1730

Origin of the Name for the State of Tennessee

The site of the former town of Tanasi, now underwater, is located about 300 yards west of this marker. Tanasi attained political prominence in 1721 when its civil chief was elected the first “Emperor of the Cherokee Nation”. About the same time, the town name was also applied to the river on which it was located. During the mid 18th century, Tansi became overshadowed and eventually absorbed by the adjacent town of Chota, which was to the immediate north. The first recorded spelling of Tennessee as it is today occured on Henry Timberlakes map of 1762. In 1796, the name Tennessee was selected from among several as most appropriate for the nation’s 16th state. Therfore, symbolized by this monument, those who reside in this beautiful state are forever linked to its Cherokee heritage.

Pho

Cherokee Tanasi to Tennessee - State. A heritage preserved and honored.

I don’t much adhere to theories of “vortexes” or spirituality, but there’s something about this site that is powerful enough to make it worth a visit, it will be on the new map. It’s worth the ride out to it. See it if you have the chance.

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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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Blue Ridge Parkway Opens Soon, Smoky Mountain Motorcycles Everywhere!

Motorcycle the Blue Ridge Parkway

We parked our motorcycles at the Blue Ridge Parkway gates at Wagon Road Gap. It wasn't open today, but it will be soon.

I knew before we reached the top of the climb the gates to the Blue Ridge Parkway would be closed. The fresh layer of road salt as we glided through the last of the hairpin curves on our motorcycle ride up US 276 south of Waynesville, North Carolina, were evidence of the lingering snow I’d seen on the mountainsides last night. Thin sheets of ice on the roadside rock faces reminded me just how different the world is when you climb up high where the Blue Ridge Parkway crowns the ridge tops.

Photo - waterfall along Buck Springs Trail

Many come to enjoy the hiking nearby. One of several small cascades the Buck Springs Trail shares on it's 6 mile run to the Pisgah Inn.

In the midday warmth, the dusting of white had vanished, but it was not long gone. We found the gates closed at Wagon Road Gap, but a nearly full parking lot at the Cold Mountain overlook proved we were not the only ones who were eager to enjoy the emergence of spring via the nations most popular motorcycle ride.

Photo - Blue Ridge PArkway overlook - Cold Mountain

Cold Mountain Overlook at Wagon Road Gap, Blue Ridge Parkway - Even with the parkway closed, plenty came out to enjoy the hiking, the scenery, and the warm weather on such a nice day.

Photo - Jackie on her Beemer

Come on, Let's Go ! This is great!

It’s early for the Blue Ridge Parkway to be open to traffic at the south end. This is the highest, and in my opinion, the best section of the entire 469 mile motorcycle ride.  If you see just one piece of the Blue Ridge Parkway on your motorcycle vacation, this should be it, the section from Asheville to the south end of the parkway at Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee. Because it’s the highest section, it’s usually the last to open for the start of the spring season.

The number of outstanding roads that surround and connect to the Blue Ridge Parkway in this area is enough to keep you busy for a season and then some. It was just one stop on a great day of motorcycle rides that followed.  I think we passed more bikes then cars on our ride. If you had a motorcycle, you were out to enjoy it today.

Photo - view from Crabtree Mountain Road

A view from Crabtree Mountain Road north of Canton. You can see a portion of it as it snakes it's way through the pass. Soon, this will all be green and spring flowers.

We doubled back via US 276 then cruised through Canton and headed north on Crabtree Mountain Road. I’d forgotten what a steep climb it was and how tight the switchback  curves are that bring you to the nice overlook at the top of the mountain pass. Up one side, down the other, then follow the serpentine path of the stream that flows through the valley. On to NC 209, out to Hot Springs, then hop from one great motorcycle ride to the next until you’ve had your fill.

Photo - view form blue ridge parkway overlook

Before long, everything will be green and flowers!

It won’t be long until weather like this will be what we expect every day in the Smoky Mountains. The fields are already turning green. The first tiny leaves are emerging on the brush. Buds are fat and swelling almost ready to burst on the trees. Soon, the hillsides will explode with color as all that pent up winter energy is freed. From what I’ve seen so far, the motorcycles are ready for it. Are 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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