Best Motorcycle Rides, NC – Wayah Road

Best Motorcycle Rides, NC – Wayah Road

Best Motorcycle Rides In NC

Best Motorcycle Rides In NC – winding up Wayah Road from the Nantahala Gorge.

30 mile long Wayah Road connects US 64 near Franklin, NC to US 74 in the heart of the Nantahala Gorge near Topton, NC. It’s a useful and strategic road to know of as it’s the only one that cuts through this rugged section of high mountains and national forest and it points to the Dragon at Deals Gap. While the ride lacks panoramic long range mountain views, there is plenty of scenery along the whitewater river. Clear and sparkling alpine Nantahala Lake is a treat near the top.

Best Motorcycle Rides, NC - Wayah Road

Best Motorcycle Rides, NC – Wayah Road – section from Map #7. Only main roads shown. Other great rides near here.

The climb out of the depths of Nantahala Gorge is steep and twisty right from the start by the powerhouse. It follows the  bank of the river as it cascades down the slope from the lake above, crossing it on narrow bridges a few times. You may run into fishermen along the lower stretch, otherwise there’s little traffic.

Best Motorcycle Rides, NC - Wayah Road - Waterfall along Wayah Road

Best Motorcycle Rides, NC – Wayah Road – The ride along the river on Wayah Road is spectacular!

When you reach the top of the climb, the road relaxes and rolls across the heights of the mountain passing through the small community near the lake. The road gets tight again along the shoreline of the clear deep lake, then climbs a bit more to reach the gentle run across the high stretches of Wayah Bald. This last short climb has some very tight turns and is notorious for gravel drawn into the road from unpaved driveways. There is a small restaurant on the lake and a few places to pull off for a break or photo.

Best Motorcycle Rides, NC - Wayah Road

Best Motorcycle Rides, NC – Wayah Road – Picnic lunch at alpine Nantahala Lake

There’s a steep plunge down the eastern slopes with some true hairpin curves. You emerge in a tight valley that grows wider as you approach Franklin. The east end of Wayah Road is marked by ‘Loafer’s Glory” country store and gas station (click her for Yelp review). Wayah Road ends when it reaches Old Murphy Road. Four lane US 64 is half a mile south on Old Murphy Road or you can follow Old Murphy Road about 5 miles in to downtown Franklin.

Best Motorcycle Rides, NC - Wayah Road

Best Motorcycle Rides, NC – Wayah Road. The curves at the top of the climb are some of the most severe and the most fun. Be alert for gravel in these turns.

Wayah Road is a classic so you’ll find it on the “12 Classic Deals Gap Motorcycle Rides” pocket map from America Rides Maps. Do yourself a favor and look at Map #7 if you are coming to ride in this area. “The Best Roads South of Great Smoky Mountains National Park” covers this are in detail. I’ve only hinted at the many nice rides near Franklin with the snippet of map I’ve shown.

Get 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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My Search for the Best Mountain Motorcycle Rides Never Ends

Photo - Maple Springs Observation Point

The Maple Springs Observation Point - accessed from Santeetlah Rd

Friday’s search for great Smoky Mountain motorcycle rides, which culminated with a spirited cruise on the Cherohala Skyway, was one of those days that might be looked on as not so productive. It’s not that I didn’t catalogue some good mountain motorcycle riding roads, I added several which will appear on my new map of the area. In my quest to leave no stone unturned, much of the 400 miles I covered was spent on roads which only the most adventurous would bother to travel. Still, there are sights and places some may wish to see, and I’m determined to find as many of them as I can.

Photo - Cherokee National Forest View

View from the Maple Springs Observation Point. I was told you can see 5 states from this spot.

Considering the number of motorcycle riders who are drawn to the area by such notable roads as The Dragon at Deals Gap, the Cherohala Skyway, The Tennessee Foothills Parkway, NC 28 (now renamed “the Moonshiner 28“), finding others that compare in quality is pretty much futile. These are some of the best motorcycle rides in the world. I’m not holding my breath thinking I’m going to discover the next great classic motorcycle ride. So why go to all this effort?

Photo - Santeetlah Dam

Quiet morning at the Santeetlah Dam

There are probably millions of motorcycles that pass through here each year. In most cases, they come, they ride the famous roads, get the t-shirt, then they’re gone to other places following the crowds. It’s the notable roads that get all the attention. Once experienced, it’s back on the four lane or the congested tourist arteries to reach the next great spot. You can rack up a lot of miles playing connect-the-dots, though those droning plods on the connections are the price you pay to reach those popular motorcycle rides.

Photo - Bald River Falls

Bald River Falls

It doesn’t have to be that way. I’m filling in the gaps between the famous motorcycle rides with the best quality rides I can find so connecting the dots is as much of an adventure as the roads you’re trying to reach. Where others might show you one good way to get from point A to point B, I look for all the best ways.

Photo - Cherohala Skyway View

View from the Cherohala Skyway. The Smoky Mountains were especially smoky today and I'll get more photos another time.

Who want’s to spend their time on the 4 lane or in bumper to bumper tourist traffic when there are so many empty two lane scenic and challenging mountain roads that get bypassed? It’s often as simple as crossing over to the next valley to escape the congestion. One little turn can make the difference between cruising along with the wind in your face or cursing the throngs of dawdling codgers, gawking sightseers, lumbering RV’s, and belching commercial trucks struggling up the grades to deliver their wares.

Photo - Motorcycles on the Cherohala Skyway

Bikes on the Cherohala Skyway

I’ve catalogued more than 100 good motorcycle roads so far surrounding Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I’m not done yet. Some of these are outstanding rides. Others will satisfy those looking for adventure. All of them avoid most everyone else who’s come to enjoy the Smoky Mountains just like you and take you to the places they’ll never see while getting you where you want to be.

Keeping you going is what keeps me going. I’m closing in on finishing the map of the Best Motorcycle Rides North of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Stay tuned and see what I discover. It’s all for you. (Click on the photos for the large versions)


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBbQfR2GqMc

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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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