Stay Near the Best Mountain Motorcycle Rides

Stay Near the Best Mountain Motorcycle Rides – 

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.

So you’ve heard about the amazing motorcycle riding in the Blue Ridge Mountains and you want to come see the best of it it.

Where should you stay to have the best opportunity to ride the greatest number of classic motorcycle rides?

To figure out where the geographic center of the best motorcycle riding was,  I first looked at where all the classic roads were, roads that have been around long enough to have names like “The Dragon”, the “Moonshiner” and “The Gauntlet”. Some of these might be on your bucket list so it’s nice to have them close. I determined the center point between them.

Map of Classic Motorcycle Rides in the Smoky Mountains

Surround yourself with classic rides.

Next I moved a large circle around the center point of the classic rides to figure out when it contained the most good motorcycle rides overall. I made rings at 10 mile intervals, made a few adjustments, and came up with the answer;

Bullseye on the test place to stay

Bullseye on the best place to stay

The target falls on Maggie Valley, Waynesville, Cherokee.

Geographically, Maggie Valley sits at the hub of it all, but any of the towns along the south side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park is going to put you near some outstanding riding.

Here are some pros and cons to help you sort out which of the three places works best for you;

Maggie Valley 

 

Photo - fall colors at Soco Gap

View heading down from the Blue Ridge Parkway at Soco Gap on US 19 towards Maggie Valley.

Maggie Valley Pros –

  • There are lots of motel rooms, cabins, and campgrounds in the one road town, it caters well to the motorcycle visitor.
  • The best section of the Blue Ridge Parkway is just 10 minutes up the road.
  • The are several good places to eat.
  • Wheels Through Time Motorcycle Museum is there.
  • The small town hosts several biker events each year, including spring and fall rallies.
  • The town is spread along a 4 lane stretch of US 19 with high mountains on looming on every horizon, you really feel like you’re in the mountains.
  • There are liquor stores in town.

Maggie Valley Cons

  • 15 min ride to Waynesville for groceries.
  • If you stay close to the middle of town you can walk to some of the restaurants and pubs, but the town is long and narrow so you’ll probably hop on the bike.

Waynesville

Main Street, downtown Waynesville

Main Street, downtown Waynesville

Waynesville Pros –

  • known for it’s good food and picturesque downtown and atmosphere.
  • There are mountains on every horizon.
  • US 276 leaves from the south end of town and leads to some great rides and the Blue Ridge Parkway

Waynesville Cons –

  • There’s only one motel in the downtown and a couple B&B’s where you can walk to the restaurants, pubs, and stores and galleries.
  • I usually tell visitors – eat in Waynesville, sleep in Maggie Valley unless you can snag one of the few rooms available in town.

Cherokee

One of the many painted bears in Cherokee

One of the many painted bears in Cherokee

Cherokee pros –

  • Strategically located at the south end of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the south entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cherokee is obviously worth consideration.
  • There are lots of motels and campgrounds. No outstanding restaurants come to mind, though I don’t pass through Cherokee often.

Cherokee cons –

  • Because Cherokee is a hub of tourist activity it is often congested with traffic. The roads leading in to it are busy, there are few of them, and you’ll end up on riding 4 lane roads like US 441 and US 74 more often.
  • You’re on the Cherokee Reservation, if you want drinks you’ll need to go to Harrah’s Casino.

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100 Great Motorcycle Rides mapin the Smoky MountainsYou can get a map of more than 100 Great Motorcycle Rides near the Smoky Mountains that will show you where the roads are hiding and how they link together into endless wonderful wanderings through the mountains.

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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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Great Blue Ridge Mountain Motorcycle Rides I found this Year

Great Blue Ridge Mountain Motorcycle Rides I found this Year

– Saluda, Columbus, and the edge of South Carolina

Blue Ridge Motorcycle Rides - Whiteoak Mountain Road

Nearing the top of Whiteoak Mountain Road near Columbus, NC. View into South Carolina and the flat lands. I-26 cuts through the Green River Gorge here.

In my constant search for the best motorcycle rides in the Blue Ridge mountains, this year I expanded one of my motorcycle ride maps further south and discovered some of the nicest biker roads at the North-South Carolina border.

It’s an easy area to reach as I-26 south of Asheville cuts through the heart of it. For those approaching the Blue Ridge Mountains from Charlotte, NC or Spartanburg and Greenville, SC, both I-26 and US 25 funnel through this gap in the mountains converging near the small mountain town of Saluda, NC.

Good motorcycle rides Saluda, NC

Saluda is a small rail side town that sits atop one of the steepest railroad grades in the east, the Saluda Grade.

Saluda is a historic little trackside mountain town. There are few nice nice victorian-era homes, old churches, ice cream, a couple spots to get a bite, touristy small town stuff on Main Street.  I’ve eaten at the Purple Onion Cafe a couple times in Saluda, it’s very good but can be crowded on those sweet summer Saturdays. Good place for a coffee break, some ice cream, or a lunch stop.

Saluda motorcycle rides map

Section of America Rides Maps #5 “Best Roads North & South of Asheville” shows a lot of nice rides around Saluda, NC.

Section of motorcycle ride map #5, “The Best Roads North & South of Asheville, NC”. Best roads shown in red, good connecting roads in blue.

You can’t take a bad road out of Saluda. US 176 runs through town as Main Street. It’s a good road to ride north, a gentle and curvy climb to Flat Rock. The ride is even nicer going south to Tryon, but not below it.  Leaving the middle of downtown Saluda as Greenville Street, it crosses the railroad tracks in the heart of town to take you west as Saluda Road through the forest to intersect Old US 25, another pleasant ride. If you head east from town, Holbert Cove Road winds through the gorge to reach Silver Creek Road or loop back through the tight switchbacks on Green River Cove Road.

Looking north from the top of Whiteoak Mountan near Columbus, NC towards Lake Lure and Asheville.

Looking north from the top of Whiteoak Mountan near Columbus, NC towards Lake Lure and Asheville.

Once you get north of Saluda and through the Green River Gorge you hit the congestion of Hendersonville which continues north into Asheville. Get on the good back roads sooner and leave the highway near Saluda. You can work northeast to Lake Lure or skirt southwest of Hendersonville on some excellent back roads both scenic and challenging away from the traffic.

Caution – The loop ride north of Columbus on Whiteoak Mountain Road  / Skyuka Mountain roads is steep and has some of the tightest switchback turns you’ll find. No place for the inexperienced rider, hesitation or doubt will get you in trouble.

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Santa - great gift ideaMaps make great holiday gifts! Riding in the Blue Ridge Mountains is made so easy with these detailed ride maps. Give the gift that pays back with the thrills of riding some of the most beautiful and challenging roads in the nation!

See the maps here -> America Rides Maps

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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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Top 10 Motorcycle Rides – The Cherohala Skyway

“One of the finest motorcycle rides you’ll ever enjoy”  –

Fall color on the North Carolina end of the Cherohala Skyway

Fall color on the North Carolina end of the Cherohala Skyway

The Cherohala Skyway takes the motorcycle rider on a long and sweeping romp through the mile high ridge lines of remote national forests just west of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Stunning long range views can be enjoyed from overlooks and rest areas along the park-like road. Traffic is typically light and the curves are challenging and consistent for the 50 mile town-to-town ride through some of the most wild and scenic areas in the Blue Ridge mountains.

The Cherohala Skyway is near The Dragon at Deals Gap. It runs from Robbinsville, NC to Tellico Plains, TN.

The Cherohala Skyway is near The Dragon at Deals Gap. It runs from Robbinsville, NC to Tellico Plains, TN. Click on map for larger view.  Source – America Rides Maps Motorcycle Pocket maps – AmericaRidesMaps.com

Enjoying a summer motorcycle ride on the Cherohala Skyway

Enjoying a summer motorcycle ride on the Cherohala Skyway

The majority of motorcycle riders are drawn to this remote mountainous area to experience the thrill of riding US 129 a.k.a. “The Dragon” which skirts the western border of Great Smoky Mountains National Park nearby. A good number of them find the ride on the Cherohala Skyway far more enjoyable. It’s a relaxing contrast to the commotion and crowds that race back and forth through the Dragon’s legendary curves.

The Cherohala Skyway runs east to west connecting the small towns of Robbinsville, NC, and Tellico Plains, TN. Between them lies a large undeveloped mountainous section of the Cherokee (TN) and Nantahala (NC) National Forests. The made-up name “Cherohala” comes from a combination of the names of the remote forests it runs through.

Motorcycle flying through the mile high curves on the Cherohala Skyway

Flying through the mile high curves near the middle of the long wonderful ride

From either end the road makes a gradual climb to reach the 5000 ft heights near the middle section. Two broad lanes with sweeping curves arc through the mountain passes. Scenic overlooks, some with rest areas, yield views of a vast forests often free of visible human impact to the horizon. While the towns at either end have food, gas, and lodging, there is nothing but empty pavement on the 40 or so miles between them.

Springtime motorcycle ride on the Cherohala Skyway

Springtime on the Tennessee end of the Cherohala Skyway – nice long view of road, click to enlarge

Riding the Cherohala Skyway on a motorcycle you’ll find smooth pavement with good traction save a few bumpy patches here and there and the occasional bit of gravel dragged into turns by cars that run wide. The speed limit is 45 mph though there are many turns where a prudent rider will carry a bit less and the experienced rider will find satisfaction at speed. The overlooks and pull outs are well marked, paved, and have ample parking. Elevation signs along the road signal each 1000 ft change. It’s very much an experience like riding through a national park – similar to riding the the Blue Ridge Parkway (less than an hour east).

Stop to enjoy the views from the nice overlooks on the Cherohala Skyway

Stop to enjoy the views from the nice overlooks on the Cherohala Skyway

As relaxing as that “park-like” experience sounds, the road challenges the motorcycle riders’ skill. The Cherohala Skyway is  “big brother” to the nearby Dragon with it’s back-to-back tight turns. The Cherohala Skyway is a ‘super-sized” version of it. The curves open up and relax a bit but they keep coming one after another with the added dimension of long winding climbs and descents.

The Cherohala Skyway and the Dragon are often ridden together in a 123 mile long loop ride which runs north on US 129 to via TN 72, then to Vonore, TN, then south via TN 360 to Tellico Plains, TN, then across the Cherohala Skyway to Robbinsville.  When you ride both roads , the contrast is obvious -the need to be hyper alert and vigilant in the parade of bikes on the Dragon is relieved on the Cherohala Skyway. It seems empty by comparison, you can relax and it has all this gorgeous scenery too!

Great views, nice pavement, low traffic, and miles and miles of sweeping curves make the Cherohala Skyway a top motorcycle ride.

Great views, nice pavement, low traffic, and miles and miles of sweeping curves make the Cherohala Skyway a top motorcycle ride.

The best time for a visit is fall when the leaves are changing. Staying at the eastern (NC) end of the road places you near several other great motorcycle rides like the Dragon and NC 28. Robbinsville, NC is the larger town with more food / lodging options though many like the west end in Tellico Plains, TN for the camping.

The Cherohala Skyway is open all year (except when snow blocks) making it one of the first destinations for southern riders in the spring and a winter play spot for the hardcore adventurer.

Motorcycles starting up the grade from the North Carolina end of the road on the Cherohala Skyway.

Starting up the grade from the North Carolina end of the road on the Cherohala Skyway.

Tips and Advice – 

  • It’s about 50 miles with no gas. Fuel at either end. Be safe – top off.
  • 3000 foot elevation change – it will be cooler, more windy, and wetter at the higher altitudes. Dress for it.
  • It’s a long, long way if you need help. Ride with that in mind.
It takes a little effort, but visiting Bald River Falls on your Cherohala Skyway ride is worth it

It takes a little effort, but Bald River Falls is worth the trip

Make a side trip to Bald River Falls –

You’ll see a sign for Bald River Falls near the start of the Tennessee end of the Cherohala Skyway. Follow barely paved River Road for several miles, it’s obvious.

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Wayne Busch

– Wayne Busch produces the most detailed and comprehensive motorcycle pocket maps of the hundreds of great roads in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains so you know where the best roads are and how to spend the bulk of your riding time on them.

You’ll find the Cherohala Skyway on America Rides Maps –

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Best Motorcycle Rides – A Mt. Mitchell Loop Ride

Photo-mt-mitchell-highest-in-east

The observation tower atop Mt. Mitchell. Pick a sunny clear day. Clouds will hang on the peak.

Best Motorcycle Rides – A Mt. Mitchell Loop Ride

A lot of bikers ask about riding to the highest mountain east of the Mississippi. This loop will spice up the ride with a fun run by Chimney Rock.

Who wouldn’t want to ride their motorcycle to the peak of the highest mountain in the eastern United States? At 6,684 feet, the views from the top are worth the trip, as is the enjoyable ride to get there. Located on NC 128, a spur road off a remote section of the Blue Ridge Parkway, it’s just a short walk to reach the observation tower the crowns the crest.

blue-ridge-parkway-craggy-gardens-visitor-center

Blue Ridge Parkway – Craggy Gardens Visitor Center is a popular rest stop north of Asheville with nice views.

While a ride up this section of the Blue Ridge Parkway is a satisfying experience, why not kill two birds with one stone and come back on a different route? For those looking for a more challenging ride than the park road, this loop will give you some classic curves and outstanding scenery. You’ll pass through dramatic Hickory Nut Gorge, home to beautiful Lake Lure and Chimney Rock, and wind your way home through some of the nicest curves  in the Pisgah Forest.

While there are some challenging sections, this is a great route for cruisers as most of it is pretty laid back and you can take your time.

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Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Pisgah Triangles

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Pisgah Triangles – Looking Glass Falls on US 276 is one of the most visited roadside waterfalls in North Carolina

Distance: 205+ miles with side trips

Duration: All day ride

Difficulty: Easy to moderate ride

Before you go:

  • Fill up first – Long stretches with no gas stations.
  • Watch the weather – High elevations will have the most extremes. Bring extra clothing. Pick a nice day to visit Mt. Mitchell, the clouds will come in here first.

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Turn-by-turn route:

Start in Waynesville. Follow US 276 to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

6.3 mi Traffic light in Bethel. Last chance to fill up before the long ride.

20.8 mi Turn left @ junction US 276 and ramp to Blue Ridge Parkway.

21 mi Turn right @ stop sign onto Blue Ridge Parkway (towards Asheville).

77.1 mi Turn left @ junction Blue Ridge Parkway and NC 128. Follow to top of Mt. Mitchell – 4.8 mi one way.

88.3 mi Exit and follow ramp to NC 80. Blue Ridge Parkway exit at NC 80.

blue-ridge-parkway-motorcycles

The Blue Ridge Parkway section north of Asheville

88.4 mi Turn right @ stop sign. Junction ramp and NC 80.

100 mi Turn right @ traffic light. Junction NC 80 and NC 70.  Follow NC 70 into Old Fort.

109 mi Turn left @ traffic light. Junction US 70 and Catawba Avenue in Old Fort. Pass through town. Follow Bat Cave Road south.

121 mi Turn left  @ stop sign. Junction Bat Cave Road and NC 9.

128 mi Turn left @ stop sign. Junction NC 9 and US 74A (Gerton Highway). 

128.3 mi Traffic Light. Junction US 74A and US 64. Go through traffic light to see Chimney Rock in 2 miles. Explore Lake lure. Turn right to leave the area on US 64 (left turn when leaving).

Photo - Lake Lure

Scenic Lake Lure, south of Asheville, in the Hickory Nut Gorge is worth the side trip

140 mi Cross over I-26 on US 64. Continue into Hendersonville.

143 mi Turn left, then right @ traffic lights downtown to continue west on US 64.

160 mi Pass straight through traffic light @ Junction US 64 / US 276 / NC 280. onto US 276. Good place add some gas to your tank. 

175 mi Pass under Blue Ridge Parkway and continue on US 276.

195 mi Return to start in Waynesville via US 276.

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There is a restaurant at Mt. Mitchell. You’ll also find food in Chimney Rock / Lake Lure, as well as Hendersonville and Brevard.

Hendersonville is a bit congested with some traffic.

Map of Mt. Mitchell / Chimney Rock loop ride

Click to enlarge

This ride and all the surrounding roads are detailed on –

Map #5 – The Best Roads North & South of Asheville, NC

Map #6 – The Best Motorcycle Rides Near Smoky Park – EAST

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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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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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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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Classic Motorcycle Roads Closed – a blessing?

Classic Motorcycle Roads Closed – a blessing?

Extreme rain causes flooding and washes out many favorite motorcycle rides – here’s an update and what it means for your motorcycle tour plans;

Note: we are hardly out of the woods – all this moisture in the soil could lead to more slides over time, and now with some hard freezes coming in, the freeze/thaw cycles could contribute to more problems as more rock is cracked, split, and loosened.

US 441 – Newfound Gap Road, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Seems this road is always under construction, over the past year or two, to repair a slide near the top on the Tennessee side of the border. As the only road which crosses the park, right through the heart of it, it carries heavy traffic loads. Now, a large section has washed out about 9 miles north of Cherokee, and it will require a substantial and costly repair.

photo - slide closes park

photo source: Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Newfound Road US 441 hit by slide, park closes

Of all the damage from the recent weather, this is the most significant. While I do show this as a great motorcycle ride on my America Rides motorcycle pocket maps, it’s one of those “if you haven’t done it, you should ride it”, but it’s not one of my favorites due to the traffic, and I typically avoid it.

If you are planning to base a motorcycle vacation out of Gatlinburg / Pigeon Forge, you will now be forced to ride completely around the park to reach many of the best motorcycle rides. While there are some great motorcycle rides on the north side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you will also be dealing the the tourist traffic that  floods into this area. I suggest you look at options on the south side of the park instead. Map #8 details the best motorcycle rides free of traffic on the north side of GSMNP, but there are so many more on the south side you will get in more riding by basing your motorcycle trip on the quiet side of the park.

The Cherohala Skyway – NC 143/ TN 165

A significant slide on the North Carolina side of the border, about 1 mile from the state line has taken out one lane of the road and it has been closed. This is one of the nicest rides in the area, and the only road that crosses through this remote area of high mountains, a favorite scenic motorcycle ride often done as a loop ride with the infamous Dragon at Deals Gap.

Photo Source - Graham Star - Slide on Cherohala Skyway takes out 1 lane

Photo Source – Graham Star – Slide on Cherohala Skyway takes out 1 lane

This is a “wait and watch” situation right now to determine how stable the slope is over time. The good news is there is likely enough room for a temporary detour, though the work required to fix the problem will be extensive. I am hopeful, it will reopen before the riding season cranks up.

This road is featured on Map #7,  Map #8, and 12 Classic Deals Gap motorcycle rides.

US 19 – Near Burnsville

This is not a large slide in scope, but the issue is a “house sized boulder” which now sits blocking the road. Complicating the cleanup is a nearby house which is too close to permit blasting of the rock. Plan is to drill in to it and use expanding materials to break it up. I expect this problem will be cleared up relatively quickly.

yancey county slide

Photo source – Yancey County News – Large boulder blocking road

Detours use Jack’s Creek Road and Coxes Creek roads, this area is detailed on Map #5

Blue Ridge Parkway (near MP 455) Soco Gap area, near Maggie Valley

Reports of a small slide in this area seem to be over-hyped. I have hiked to it for inspection, and found a few rocks in the road which I could have cleared with one hand. No worries here.

photo - small slide on Blue Ridge PArkway

The rock slide reported near MP 455 is nothing to worry about. I could have taken care of it myself.

The most significant Blue Ridge Parkway closure in North Carolina is for slope stabilization near Mt. Mitchell. The road is closed here at least through April. You can download a free printable map of my suggested detours for motorcycles that give you other options here – http://smokymountainrider.com/Downloads/parkway-closure-2013.pdf

NC 63 – Leicester Road

I have not had personally investigated this slide, it is reported one lane has been affected. This is a popular motorcycle ride connecting to NC 209 (The Rattler), often used to make loop rides or access Asheville. The slide occurred in the best section of the road, the steep switchbacks that climb over the mountain. No further info on this one right now.

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 – These riders are looping back to NC 209 on NC 63.

Fortunately, there are many other options to make loop rides through this area, you’ll find them them extensively detailed on Map #6

So where are the blessings in all this bad news?

Most of the mess will be tended to by the time the real motorcycle riding season gets going. While 5 important roads are closed, some of them consistently on the “top 10 motorcycle rides” lists, it is only 5. I show nearly 200 other great motorcycle rides in this area, the blessing is you now have the opportunity to get away from the tourist traffic that flocks to these biker roads and discover some of little know and best scenic motorcycle rides detailed on my maps.

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wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

Wayne Busch

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

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Learn Total Control

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

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Best Motorcycle Events for Riders in the Smoky Mountains

There are all kinds of motorcycle events though few focus on the best thing about your motorcycle – riding it.

Best Motorcycle Events for Riders in the Smoky Mountains

Best Motorcycle Events for Riders in the Smoky Mountains – I’ve attended many events, often as a vendor, but few focus on the best thing about your motorcycle – riding it.

Most shows, rallies, and gatherings center on one thing – getting you off your bike so you can reach your wallet. Park it here, pay to get in, visit our vendors. OK, so they have a place in the big scheme of things. You get to ride there and back, maybe play a few riding games in the grass to entertain the crowds, but mostly you and your bike part ways for the duration. I seem to end up at them too often, and I’d rather be riding.

Best Motorcycle Events for Riders

Best Motorcycle Events for Riders in the Smoky Mountains – typical rally scene. Surrounded by some of the best riding in the world, the bikes sit idle, the riders milling about wondering what next? Riding opportunity wasted.

Looking back on this year, two events hit the mark for me. Well run, well organized, and all about the ride – the RoadRUNNER Magazine event in Maggie Valley and The Smoky Mountain Motomarathon in Asheville / Fontana. Both were firsts for the Smoky Mountains region and both impressed someone who believes motorcycles are best enjoyed when riding them. Both endured weather conditions that kept most bikers in the lazy-boy watching the tube, yet the riders who came went out on the road every day and had a blast.

Best Motorcycle Events for Riders

Best Motorcycle Events for Riders in the Smoky Mountains – Well organized rides made for an outstanding RoadRUNNER Magazine event in Maggie Valley, NC. The weather did not stop the riders from having a great time on their bikes. Lining up for the days adventures one wet morning. The weather cleared, and it was a great time.

The RoadRUNNER Magazine Event in Maggie Valley drew several hundred riders. Each morning they set out in small groups led by a guide to show them the way. There were a variety of destinations, skill levels, lengths of ride, even some dual-sport routes. At the end of the day, riders returned to a catered dinner and swapped stories beneath a circus-sized tent. Off to bed, then back on the road the next day. The handful of vendors were there to give support to the riders, to address the needs that came up when you get so many bikers together. Despite several days of rain, the groups went out each morning and came in happy every evening.

Best Motorcycle Events for Riders

Best Motorcycle Events for Riders in the Smoky Mountains – I got to enjoy one of the dual sport rides at the RoadRUNNER magazine event, one of the highlights of my year. There was something for everyone at this well run gathering, all had a great time.

The Smoky Mountain Motomarathon drew only a couple dozen riders, but those that attended were the hard core enthusiasts that go unsung in the magazines and print. These men and women came in from all over the country and Canada, most riding from home to participate in an event designed to challenge their skills and fortitude. When greeted by Hurricane Sandy with the winds, rain, snow, and ice, they cheerfully saddled up each day eager to get out and ride whatever came up. They enthusiastically went out in conditions that kept cars off the road, and every one of them returned safe and sound each night, ready to embrace the next day.

Best Motorcycle Events for Riders

Best Motorcycle Events for Riders in the Smoky Mountains – Photo from one of the Smoky Mountain Motomarathon riders during the event as Hurricane Sandy added to the already challenging routes. It slowed them down, but didn’t stop these hard core riders. Awesome event, pretty sure the weather will be better next year.

As you hunker down for the all-to-long winter season and your thoughts turn to riding goals for next year, consider these two events for your calendar.  They were both firsts, and if you’d like to see them back let the organizers know it’s what you want to see more of. I know it’s my kind of motorcycle event, and I’ll lend my support again next year if you want to see more like them.

Best Motorcycle Events for Riders

Best Motorcycle Events for Riders in the Smoky Mountains – bagging a checkpoint in the Motomarathon – Each rider is issued a badge. Route sheets are dispersed at the last minute. As you ride the routes you verify your checkpoints with a photo of your badge at each location. Points scored for each checkpoint. Cool idea.

If this is your idea of what makes a great motorcycle event, let these organizers know you want more of it. Contact them, show you are interested, and I’ll do what I can to help make it happen for you.

RoadRUNNER Magazine – http://www.roadrunner.travel

MotoMarathon –  http://www.motomarathon.com

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wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

Wayne Busch

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

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Learn Total Control

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

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Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Secrets

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Secrets

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

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Sandy Mush

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

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

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Pisgah View

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

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

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - NC 151

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

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

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Hookers Gap Rd

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

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

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Earlys Mtn Rd

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

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

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Beaverdam Rd

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

Wayne Busch

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

Total Rider Tech Logo

Learn Total Control

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

____________________________________________________________________

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