Smoky Mountain Waterfalls Motorcycle Ride

Tour more than 1 dozen roadside waterfalls on this long and scenic day ride.

Smoky Mountains Waterfalls Motorcycle Ride

Smoky Mountains Waterfalls Motorcycle Ride – click for large view

Overview: 

Start in Maggie Valley. Follow US 19 west to 441 at Cherokee. Soco Falls on route. Follow US 441 south to Franklin, then US 64 / NC 28 to Highlands. 4 falls along road. Highlands to Cashiers on US 64, then loop south on 107 / 281 to see 2 more. Continue east on US 64, detour south of Brevard then onto US 276 to the Blue Ridge Parkway (3 more) Ride the Parkway to NC 215 then follow it back to US 276 and into Maggie Valley.

Roadside waterfalls abound for the motorcycle rider

Discover the hidden secrets on your motorcycle travels in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains

Detailed Route:

Distance: 190 miles.

Time: All day ride.

Easy to moderate difficulty

Before you go:

  • Exercise caution! – These are roadside waterfalls, some which are on busy roads with blind curves and limited pull-outs. Pull out with confidence and vigor.
  • Look but don’t touch – Dangerous conditions lurk around waterfalls. Visitors are killed every year. Very slippery rocks. Powerful currents. Deadly drops.
  • Plan on more time – Several waterfalls require short walks to get the views. Allow time for multiple stops and photos.

Route:

Photo-Bubbling-Springs-Branch-on-NC 215

Easy to find Bubbling Springs Branch is on a sharp curve where it flows under NC 215.

Start in Maggie Valley. Follow US 19 west.

4.1 mi Pass under Blue Ridge Parkway

5.7 miSoco Falls. Gravel pull off on left with small signs. Downhill section of road on a curve. Can’t be seen from road. Path and boardwalk lead to 2 converging waterfalls.

15.2 mi Turn left @ traffic light at casino for shortcut to US 441 south. Junction US 19 and Casino Road.

16 mi Turn left @ traffic light onto US 441 south. Junction Casino Road and US 441.

20.1 mi Follow highway 23/74 east. Junction US 441 and highway 23/74 exit 74.

27.3 mi Follow US 441 south. Junction US 441 and highway 23/74 exit 81..

45.3 mi Exit US 441, follow US 64 / NC 28 east. Junction US 441 and US 64 / NC 28 at Franklin.

54.4 mi – Cullasaja Falls. Visible from road on right. Limited and hazardous parking near guardrail on sharp curve.

57.3 mi Quarry Falls – Visible from road on right. Long paved pulloff on right side of road.

58.2 mi – Dry Falls – Not visible from road. Paved parking on right with signs. Short trail to waterfall. Path continues behind waterfall.

60.8 mi – Bridal Veil Falls – Visible from road on left. Paved pull off. Drive behind the waterfall for a photo.

Motorcycles at Cullasaja Falls in North Carolina's "Land of the Waterfalls"

With permission granted, I stand ready to help you have the ride of your life! Just say YES!

63.5 mi Turn left @ traffic light to continue on US 64. Junction US 64 and NC 28 downtown Highlands.

73.7 mi Turn right @ traffic light onto NC 107 south. Junction US 64 and NC 107 in Cashiers.

77.1 miSilver Run Falls – Not visible from road. Poorly marked gravel pull off on left. Trail leads into woods. 1/4 mile walk.

83 mi Turn left onto Wiginton Scenic Byway. Junction Wiginton Scenic Byway and NC 107.

85.2 mi Turn left @ stop sign to head north on NC 281 (Whitewater Falls Road). Junction Wiginton Scenic Byway and NC 281.

87.6 miWhitewater Falls State Park. Not visible from road. $2 fee. 1/4 mile paved walk. Highest waterfall in the east.

94.9 mi Turn right @ stop sign to continue east on US 64. Junction NC 281 and US 64.

97.1Toxaway Falls – Not visible from road. Road crosses dam with waterfall below. Difficult to get a good view. Park at Toxaway Village or along road on dam.

105 mi Turn right @ junction US 64 and US 178 at Rosman.

106 mi Turn right @ traffic light in Rosman, exit town.

107 mi Turn left onto East Fork Road. Junction US 178 (Pickins Highway) and East Fork Road.

110 mi Turn right @ stop sign  to keep on East Fork Road. Junction East Fork Road and Walnut Hollow Road.

119 mi Turn left @ stop sign to go north on US 276 (Greenville Highway). Junction East Fork Road and US 276.

120 miConnestee Falls – Not visible from road. Large sign, trailhead at end of parking lot. Short walk to overlook where 2 waterfalls converge.

126 mi Turn right @ traffic light in Brevard onto US 64. Junction US 276 and US 64.

129 mi Turn left @ traffic light onto US 276 north. Junction US 64 / US 276 / NC 280.

135 miLooking Glass Falls – Visible from road. Large paved parking along road on right. Boardwalk to base of falls.

Photo-whitewater-falls-nc

Whitewater Falls, one of the highest in the east.

137 mi – Sliding Rock – Not visible from road. Fee area $2. Paved parking lot. Bathers slide down waterfall.

144 mi Turn right onto parkway ramp. Turn left at the stop sign to head south (towards Cherokee) on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Junction US 276 and Blue Ridge Parkway.

148.5 mi – Graveyard Fields – Not visible from road. 1/3 mile paved walk to top of Second Falls. Trails continue to 2 others.

156 mi Exit Parkway. Turn left (towards Canton) on NC 215. Junction Blue Ridge Parkway and NC 215.

158 mi –  Flat Laurel Creek – Visible from road. Hard to find. Look for 3rd gravel pull out on right on the only straight section of road.

160 miBubbling Springs Branch – Visible from road on left. River plunges beneath the roadway on a hairpin curve. Small unpaved parking are just beyond.

174 mi Turn left @ stop sign to follow US 276 into Waynesville.. Junction NC 215 / US 276.

180 mi Turn right @ traffic light in Waynesvile.. Pass through town.

Junction US 276 and Main Street.

181mi Turn left @ traffic light. Junction Main Street and US 276 (Russ Avenue).

183 mi Turn left @ traffic light to return to Maggie Valley. Junction US 276 and US 19.

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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, comprehensive, up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com

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Best Motorcycle Rides North Carolina – Pisgah Triangles Repaved!

Fresh paving bumps this NC motorcycle ride to the top of list!

Freshly paved  –

  • US 276 from Fish Hatchery Road to the Blue Ridge Parkway (done)
  • US 276 from the Blue Ridge Parkway to Big East Fork (done)
  • NC 215 from Blue Ridge Parkway to Sunburst (in progress)

Unbelievable! Fantastic! Outstanding motorcycle ride!

US 276 – the Newly Paved Section

Note – while paving is done (it was a quality job) there is still fill work along the shoulders and pavement markings / lines need to be added so expect work crews in the area. It will take a bit for the gravel at the edges of the road to settle in, so you need to be watchful for loose stone in the curves for a while. 

We’ve just come in off a great North Carolina motorcycle ride on the newly paved sections of US 276 which connect Waynesville to Brevard just south of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. US 276 crosses the best and most scenic area of the Blue Ridge Parkway at the mid-point on this 30 mile ride.

Best North Carolina motorcycle rides - US 276

Best North Carolina motorcycle rides – Jackie gives a big “thumbs up” to the fresh paving on US 276 near the Blue Ridge Parkway

South of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the fresh paving invites motorcycle riders to snake all the way down from the parkway’s heights to popular Looking Glass Falls, one of the most visited roadside waterfalls in the southeast. Along the way you’ll find scenic areas like Pink Beds, informative and historic places like The Cradle of Forestry, and you might even want to plunge 60 feet down a waterfall for a chilly wake-up at Sliding Rock. The entire ride carves and switchbacks through the steep and wooded mountains of the Pisgah National Forest with whitewater streams, dark tree lined passages, and numerous pull-outs to stop ad savor the surroundings.

Best motorcycle rides North Carolina - US 276

Best motorcycle rides North Carolina – the south side of US 276 winds through thick forest

North of the Blue Ridge Parkway, US 276 drops more than 1000 feet in a 3 mile plunge from Wagon Road Gap (MP 412.2) to the trailhead at Big East Fork, then it flanks along the slopes of Cold Mountain following the Pigeon River to the Bethel Valley. This section of tight curves is one of the most sustained series of back-to-back turns you’ll come across anywhere AND it’s a steep grade to boot. For the motorcycle rider looking for a challenging stretch of road, this one has all you need!

Why is this important?

US 276 is one leg of a triangle which form a number of the best motorcycle rides in North Carolina I call The Pisgah Triangles. The other long leg of the triangle is NC 215. Several roads form third legs of a series of triangles crossing between NC 215 and US 276  within the upside down “V” formed. The roads which hold the most challenging, steep, curvy, and scenic sections of the rides are found near the top of the triangle and have been in poor repair making a challenging ride even more difficult. Once these sections of road are repaved, the quality of the motorcycle rides on The Pisgah Triangles will beat most, if not all of the best motorcycle rides in North Carolina.

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Pisgah Triangles motorcycle map

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Pisgah Triangles motorcycle map – At least 4 variations, the 3rd is my favorite.

See photos, map, and ride guide here – The Pisgah Triangles

The Final Piece is in the Works! – 

We were delighted to see the upper portions of NC 215 are also receiving a sweet smooth coating of fresh asphalt. There is still a good bit to be done as it’s a much longer run down to the Sunburst Campground at the edge of the national forest. Like US 276, NC 215 traces the course of the Little East Fork of the Pigeon River as it rushes down from the heights.

Best Motorcycle Rides North Carolina - NC 215

Best Motorcycle Rides North Carolina – Paving on NC 215 has started from the top down. You can see one lane done here, still a way to go.

Easy to find, convenient to ride, lots of options!

Both US 276 and NC 215 intersect the Blue Ridge Parkway on the highest and most scenic portion of the road. If you are riding the Blue Ridge Parkway it’s easy to hop off and play with these roads or if you are riding through, it’s a short cruise to loop back from the south end at Cherokee and enjoy. I believe most riders are going to enjoy these roads more than The Dragon at Deals Gap as they are not only curvy, but wonderfully scenic and carry very light traffic.

image-motorcycle-ride-map-cover

You’ll find these roads on America Rides Maps motorcycle pocket map #6 – The Best Motorcycle Rides EAST of Great Smoky Mountains National Park along with another 50 or so outstanding rides in the surrounding area and a guide to the numerous roadside waterfalls.

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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 in North Carolina – Pisgah Triangles

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – The Pisgah Triangles Map

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Pisgah Triangles motorcycle map

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Pisgah Triangles motorcycle map – At least 4 variations, the 3rd is my favorite.

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – The Pisgah Triangles are some of the best motorcycle rides in the world. You’ll see spectacular views, wonderful waterfalls, and ride curves and twists that go on and on and on!

US 276 and NC 215 are two of the finest motorcycle rides you’ll find. Both roads run south from Waynesville / Maggie Valley forming a large upside-down “V”. Connections between these two long roads make 4 triangle shaped rides.  Ride a short fun loop or have an all day adventure!

Complete your triangle with – The Blue Ridge Parkway, US 64, East Fork Road,
or SC 11

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

Roll into Waynesville or Maggie Valley and ask someone to direct you to the best and most scenic motorcycle rides and their finger will point you to the jagged southern horizon. Home to the highest and best section of the Blue Ridge Parkway, two of the roads that lead out of town and climb to the mile high mountaintops are drop-dead beautiful and filled with the curves and switchbacks that make a biker come alive.

The Pisgah Triangles is a name I use to describe this collection of great  motorcycle rides in western North Carolina as so much of it is through the wilderness of the Pisgah National Forest. These are four good options for rides, though are are several others, including some excellent unpaved forest roads for you adventure bikers. There are also roads which lead out to even more fabulous riding not shown on this map.

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Pisgah Triangles - NC 215

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Pisgah Triangles – NC 215 is the lesser known leg of the Pisgah Triangles, crossing the parkway midway. It’s a popular rest stop in the middle of the wilderness.

Any of these 3 roads – the Blue Ridge Parkway, US 276, and NC 215 are great motorcycle rides you never, ever, tire of enjoying on your motorcycle vacation trip. It’s the first place we local bikers head to as well. Here are 4 outstanding North Carolina motorcycle loop rides you can choose from to get the most out of your precious time while out motorcycle touring in the Blue Ridge.

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Pisgah Triangles - Cradle-of-Forestry

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Pisgah Triangles – Cradle-of-forestry is one of several stops on US 276, along with Pink Beds, Sliding Rock, Looking Glass Falls, Blue Ridge Motorcycle Campground, Jukebox Junction, …

While you could blast through the shortest loop in less than 3 hours, chances are you won’t. There are so many great views you can’t help but stop and admire them along the ride. The first of the Pisgah Triangles is the first motorcycle ride I recommend to visitors after the Blue Ridge Parkway – it’s that good.

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Pisgah Triangles -NC-215-cathedral-falls

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Pisgah Triangles -NC 215 – Cathedral Falls is hidden just off the road, but is worth the stop as there are 4 other waterfalls with just a short walk.

The second of the loops climbs to the Blue Ridge Parkway, then down into the next valley near Brevard and Rosman. If you want to include a few roadside  waterfalls in your motorcycle tour, this is the way to get in some good ones and enjoy some more great curvy sections of road. I usually avoid using US 64 through Brevard and the traffic on the 4-lane, as the 3rd loop is so much nicer.

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Pisgah Triangles - US 276

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Pisgah Triangles – US 276 junction with the Blue Ridge Parkway. As both NC 215 and US 276 connect, you can always hop up and take a quick break with the best of views.

The third loop is just a little tricky as you jump from backroad to backroad, but it is such a nice and scenic motorcycle ride it is worth the effort and one of my favorite motorcycle rides of all. Dodging south of US 64 gets you off the four lane and on to some great rides along trout rivers and streams. Hard not to come back smiling from this one!

 

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Pisgah Triangles -

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Pisgah Triangles – The climbs up to the highest section of the Blue Ridge Parkway then down to the next valley are packed with switchbacks, curves, and twists that are so much fun to ride!

The longest loop takes you into South Carolina to the very edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, follows a long straight section of the Foothills Scenic Highway (SC 11), then comes back into North Carolina and a wonderfully twisty ride. The plunge into South Carolina from Caesar’s Head State Park is one you’ll remember!

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Pisgah Triangles - view from Caesar's Head

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Pisgah Triangles – Chances are you’ll miss this view plunging down from Caesar’s Head State Park into South Carolina and US 276 carves through the tight switchbacks.

Shortest loop 50 miles. 3 hours, more with stops.
Longest loop 120 miles – All day ride 

Routes:

Loop 1 – use Blue Ridge Parkway. 50 miles, 2 -3 hours or more.

Starts in Waynesville  – Leave downtown Waynesville on US 276 south to reach the top point of the Pisgah Triangles.

6.3 mi Continue straight at traffic light on US 276.

20.8 mi Turn left to follow ramp to the Blue Ridge Parkway at Wagon Road Gap.

20.9 mi Turn left at stop sing onto the Blue Ridge Parkway (towards Cherokee).

31.9 mi Exit the Blue Ridge Parkway at NC 215.

40 mi Turn Left at stop sign onto NC 215 (towards Canton). NC 215 becomes Lake Logan Rd.

 49.9 mi End of loop 1 in Bethel. 6.3 miles back to Waynesville on US 276.

Loop 2 – Use US 64. 90 miles, 3-5 hours

Starts in Waynesville  – Leave downtown Waynesville on US 276 south

6.3 mi Pass through the traffic light in Bethel.

20.8 mi Pass under the Blue Ridge Parkway

35.3 mi Turn right @ traffic light onto US 64. 

47.8 mi Turn Right onto NC 215 (Parkway Road).

64.8 mi Pass under Blue Ridge Parkway

90+ mi. Follow directions for loop 1 return to Waynesville

Loop 3 – Use East Fork Rd /  Wilson Rd. 100 miles, 5 -7 hours

Starts in Waynesville  – Leave downtown Waynesville on US 276 south.

35.3 mi Turn right @ traffic light onto US 64. Move into the left lane.

35.4 mi Turn left @ traffic light onto Ecusta Rd. Follow 1.6 miles to next traffic light at Old Hendersonville Highway.

37 mi Turn right, go about 200 yards, then turn left onto Wilson Rd. Follow Wilson Rd to US 276 (Greenville Highway

40.7 mi Turn left @ stop sign onto US 276 (Greenville Highway).

46.1 mi Turn right onto East Fork Road.

54.6 mi Turn left to stay on East Fork Road. Watch for gray metal barn on left near this turn. Follow East Fork Road to US 178 (Pickens Highway).

58.3 mi Turn right @ stop sign onto US 178 (Pickens Highway) and follow into Rosman.

59 mi Turn left @ traffic light when you enter Rosman to reach US 64.

60 mi Turn left at stop sign onto US 64

60.5 mi Turn right onto NC 215 (Parkway Road)

95.5 mi Turn left onto US 276 in Bethel. 6.3 miles to Waynesville.

Loop 4 – Use NC 11 – (Foothills Scenic Parkway)

Follow Loop 3 directions to mile 46.1. Continue south on Greenville Highway (US 276)  into South Carolina.

58.1 mi Turn right @ stop sign onto SC 11. Follow 8.9 mi.

67 mi Turn right onto US 178 (Moorefield Memorial Highway). Follow 15.6 miles to Rosman.

Return to Bethel using Loop 3 directions. 120 miles.

Here’s a video that shows riding in the area:

This is it. These are the rides you should do. They have everything you come to the mountains for. This is bucket-list quality stuff. These are some of the best motorcycle rides in North Carolina. Don’t miss the Pisgah Triangles on your next trip.

You find these great motorcycle rides on America Rides Maps #6 – The Best Motorcycle Rides Near Smoky Park – EAST  http://shop.americaridesmaps.com/6-The-Best-Motorcycle-Rides-Near-Smoky-Mountains-Park-EAST-NC017.htm

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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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Scenic Motorcycle Rides – Dry Falls, NC

The beautiful region south of Great Smoky Mountains National Park is often called “The Land of the Waterfalls” and is one of the most popular areas to ride on a motorcycle.  More than 20 nice waterfalls are located close to the roadside, another 40 or so require more serious hiking than most bikers are willing or equipped to tackle.

photo-Dry-Falls

A path leads behind Dry Falls so you can pass beneath it without getting wet.

Dry Falls is one of the most unique though it’s an easy one to miss on your motorcycle ride despite being well marked. It’s easy to miss as it’s not directly visible from the road so you’re not tempted off the wonderfully curvy section of US 64 as it snakes through the spectacular Cullasaja Gorge between Franklin and Highlands.

This section of US 64 can be a very enjoyable ride on a motorcycle, though it’s too often hampered by other traffic drawn to see the sights and wonders. On those typical days when there is a good amount on traffic on the road, it’s definitely worth the time to stop for a break and make the short walk from the parking area to admire Dry Falls.

image-map-of-waterfalls

Dry Falls got it’s name because you can walk beneath the falls without getting wet. A large cavern beneath the rock ledge at the top of the falls has a path where you can pass behind the cascade to emerge on the other side. It has the largest and best improved parking area of all the falls in the area, so it’s an easy place to stop and enjoy.

 

image Great Smokies south map coverFind more than a dozen roadside waterfalls on America Rides Maps map #7The Best Roads SOUTH of Great Smoky Mountain National Park

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Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer

Total Rider Tech Logo

Learn Total Control

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

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

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

photo-US-64-view-Cashiers

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

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

Photo-view-from-NC-215

Above the clouds on my morning ride

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

Photo-Hampton-Inn-Sapphire-NC

Hampton Inn & Suites, Sapphire, NC

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

Photo-lobby-at-hampton-inn-sapphire-nc

A comfortable place to gather and relax

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

Photo-room-at-hampton-inn-sapphire-nc

Ride hard, rest easy.

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

Photo-entrance-hampton-inn-sapphire-nc

Put your bike here.

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

Photo-Charlies-Creek-Rd

One of the roads I took going home

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

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

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

 

Photo-whitewater-falls-nc

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

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Wayne Busch
Wayne Busch – Cartographer
– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com 
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Motorcycling in the Land of the Waterfalls – Shouldn’t You be in these Photos?

Photo - Soco Road Exit Blue Ridge Parkway

We started from the Soco Rd Exit (US 19) on the Blue Ridge Parkway @ MP 455.7

Absolutely gorgeous weather over the holiday weekend did not go to waste. We took advantage of the opportunity to enjoy riding a “tourist” loop we typically avoid. While the good folks were in church, we knew the traffic would be light and the timing would be right to get out for a Smoky Mountain motorcycle ride that would take us by some of the best scenery the area has to offer and a trip through the Land of the Waterfalls.

Photo - Museum of the Cherokee Indian

Museum of the Cherokee Indian

We made our way to Maggie Valley and started the loop from the Soco Gap exit on the Blue Ridge Parkway at MP 455.7. Careening down through the curves towards Cherokee, we had the road to ourselves and got the rare chance to enjoy this twisty section of two lane which is normally crowded with travelers and commuters.

Photo - Bear in Cherokee

Cherokee is full of these bears

Cherokee was quiet as we sneaked into town for a quick photo then continued on US 19 into Bryson City on the south side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  On Easter Sunday, the trains of the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad sat in reverence as we passed through the back side of town to check out a road I’d been curious about – (I never stop looking for new roads for America Rides Maps).

Photo - Great Smoky Mountains Railway Train

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad train in Bryson City

After 10 minutes on the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway (US 74 /19/23/28), we forked south into the Nantahala Gorge and paused for a break at the Nantahala Outdoor Center on the river.  From now on, this beautiful road which follows the course of one of the most popular whitewater rivers in the east will be filled with lumbering buses hauling rafters and kayakers upstream for the chilly and thrilly ride through the rapids. Thanks to the holiday, there was no commercial traffic, though plenty of others were here to enjoy the hiking, biking, and other pursuits in this hub of outdoor activity.

Photo - Rivers End Restaurant

The Rivers End Restaurant sits on the Natahala River at NOC.

Enduring 10 miles of relatively light traffic, we turned off for the climb over Wayah Bald. Snaking up along the cascading river, we passed fishermen gracefully floating their flies in the quiet pools beneath the numerous falls, then paused for a picnic lunch on the shore of crystal clear alpine Nantahala Lake.

Photo - motorcycle on Wayah Road

Jackie cruises Wayah Road

The ride across the top of the mountain is more challenging than it is scenic filled with curves and twists that attract riders to this favorite motorcycle route. Easing down through the hairpin curves on the back side of the hump, the road traces the course of another stream which builds to flow into the Little Tennessee River once you reach Franklin.  We passed through town then headed south again on US 64 / NC 28 to enter the Cullasaja River Gorge.

Waterfall along Wayah Road

The ride along the river on Wayah Road is spectacular!

It looked like our luck was changing as we found ourselves behind several cars, but each peeled off on side roads before we reached the outstanding curves that carve through the rugged canyon and we actually got to enjoy the ride at speed. That is a rare treat and we appreciated it. Good rains this spring have the waterfalls roaring and they were spectacular.

Photo - motorcycles at Nantahala Lake

Picnic lunch at alpine Nantahala Lake

There are four easy to spot major waterfalls along this stretch of US 64 leading into Highlands, Cullasaja Falls (the largest), Dry Falls, Quarry Falls, and delicate Bridal Veil Falls. We stopped for a unique photo at Bridal Veil Falls where a small paved loop runs behind the cascade.

Photo - Cullasaja Falls

Cullasaja Falls on US 64 / NC 28

The remainder of the ride on US 64 is outstanding for scenery but by mid afternoon the tourist traffic was picking up and we did not always get to exploit the wonderful curves as much as we would have liked. The horizons are flanked with glimpses of the highest naked cliffs in North Carolina, some more than 1000 feet tall, and you cruise through some of the most expensive real estate in the country.

We completed the loop by heading north again on US 215 from Rosman climbing to reach the highest section of the Blue Ridge Parkway on a freshly paved road that snakes through outstanding turns and scenery that make it one of the locals favorite rides.

Photo - Motorcycle behind Bridal Veil Falls

Jackie poses for a photo on her motorcycle behind Bridal Veil Falls just outside Highlands, NC on US 64 / NC 28. How cool is that?

Click on photos for larger view

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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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A Motorcycle Ride You Should Know About – A stop at Wolf Creek Dam

If you were in the Smoky Mountains this weekend you already know what perfect motorcycle riding we enjoyed. Cool mornings, warm afternoons, bright sunshine and unusually clear skies meant you were in for enjoyment regardless of where you rode while motorcycle touring. Bikes were everywhere. Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway was outstanding, but no more so than anywhere else.

Photo - wolf Creek Dam

Wolf Creek Dam near the midpoint of NC 281, one of the scenic points on this great motorcycle ride.

As it was a holiday weekend, we chose to avoid the more popular venues and when Labor Day came around I celebrated by – going to work. It was the good kind of work though, out on the motorcycle exploring and discovering more new roads to add to my America Rides Maps. I found a couple more, and today will be an office day as I update the maps. Along the way we took a ride on NC 281 (which I’ve written about previously) a road you should know about.

Photo - wolf Creek Dam

NC 281 is a great motorcycle ride - even the dam is curved and you can see the road leading on to it rarely lets up.

NC 281, a.k.a. Canada Road, is well marked at both ends. The north end is accessed from NC 107 south of Sylva and Cullowhee. The south end is accessed from Us 64 near Toxaway. The road takes you through sections of the Pisgah Forest climbing and rolling gently up and down the mountains with generally nice pavement, some decent views, and excellent curves. It a great road for viewing fall colors.

Photo - view from the Wolf Creek Dam

NC 281 is surrounded by the rugged mountains of the Pisgah Forest with scenic vistas of the craggy rocks and valleys, mountain lakes, and streams.s

We stopped for a break at the Wolf Creek Dam near the midpoint. To the north, NC 281 climbs over a pass then descends through a series of fast sweepers to reach NC 107 at Tuckaseegee. There’s a convenient (though expensive) gas station near the junction. To the south, the road is tighter and more technical as it claws it’s way through the rugged hills on the most recently paved portion. It’s certainly worth your time to take a ride on this great motorcycle road and this weekend many chose to do so.

Photo - stopped near the Wolf Creek Dam

Jackie enjoys a break in the warm sunshine from our nearby explorations of great motorcycle rides.

With the dry weather, the dam was spilling water from the lake to keep the popular trout fishing rivers below flowing. It an earthen dam and riding across it’s arcing top is a thrill for some. While there is a concrete K-barrier on the lake side, the drop off on the boulder strewn face is posted only by a series of large rocks widely spaced.

Photo - Spillway at the Wolf Creek Dam

The lake provides water for the popular trout streams below.

Add NC 281 to your list of rides to do this fall. This is just one section of it, it continues south after it joins with US 64 for a few miles. It’s a far better ride than nearby NC 107 which carries most of the local traffic. There are lots of other great motorcycle roads nearby with outstanding scenery, roadside waterfalls, and challenging and fun curves. You could spend your whole motorcycle vacation exploring them. It’s a road you will return to.

America Rides Maps – Dozens of roads in the surrounding area make it one of my favorites.

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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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50 Great Motorcycle Roads Near the Tail of the Dragon

Photo - Jackie and her BMW

Even #1 Riding Partner, my wife Jackie (a.k.a. BMW Girl), has not ridden all the roads - yet!

I was wondering this morning just how many great motorcycle rides I’d discovered in the areas I’ve suggested as alternatives since the Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap closed due to the recent rock slide.

So far, I’ve posted info about several areas;

Photo - Jackie rides

Does this bike make my butt look FAST?

I pulled out my America Rides Maps and starting counting. I hit 50 long before I got to the last maps that covered the great motorcycle riding areas I’d been describing. Closer to 70, probably more. I tried not to count rides where the road changes names along it’s course twice or even three times. It gets a little confusing, there are just so many.

Don’t let the rock slide at the Tail of the Dragon obstruct your motorcycle vacation planning. It could be a blessing in disguise. After all, Deals Gap is not known for it’s scenery, mountain views, waterfalls, or picturesque countryside. Imagine what waits just over the hill.

Visit  or contact http://americaridesmaps.com for more info.

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Motorcycle Vacation Planning – Great Ride Alternatives

SEE SOME WATERFALLS!

Photo - Whitewater Falls Highest in the east

Whitewater Falls - Highest in the east

With the Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap on the North Carolina / Tennessee state line now closed due to a rock slide, many who have made reservations in advance may be wondering what to do. Before you cancel those reservations, consider there are plenty of alternatives to discover great motorcycle rides in the area within easy reach.

The Cherohala Skyway, Tennessee’s version of the Blue Ridge Parkway, remains open and is a fine ride, though be aware much of the regional traffic will be shifting onto it. It’s not quite the challenge to ride, but it makes up the deficiency with great scenery as it climbs to over 5000 feet before entering North Carolina.

Of course, NC 28 which intersects US 129 in North Carolina at the southern end of the Tail of the Dragon will be there for those looking for a more challenging motorcycle route. With the Dragon closed, I suspect traffic on it will be light. Don’t let this road fool you, it “bites” more riders than the Dragon in that it is not as predictable. Where the Dragon has one turn after another, you know what to expect,  NC 28 has some more open stretches where you can pick up speed only to find the upcoming 10 mph corner is far sharper than you are ready for.

Many motorcycle tourers who ride this section of NC 28 don’t realize it continues further south into South Carolina and miss out on a great section of road. It grows to 4 lanes as it reaches the intersection with the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway, continues a few miles on the highway, then diverts south again to become a wonderful two lane road again. All in all, it’s more than 100 miles of truly great motorcycle riding with but a few interruptions where it passes through Franklin and Highlands.

Photo - Dry Falls

Dry Falls - You can walk behind them

The first area I highly recommend you spend some time motorcycle riding is often called the “Land of the Waterfalls”. Comprised primarily of the wild mountains of the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests, this area south of Great Smoky Mountains National Park hosts one of the greatest collections of easy to view roadside waterfalls in the nation including the highest waterfall east of the Rockies.

This rugged area is laced with challenging and scenic motorcycle roads including the highest and most beautiful section of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Springtime is the best season to see them before the summer leaves obscure the views.

Here’s a video sample of them from America Rides Maps;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBrB5lrtZ9I

Don’t let the closure of the Tail of the Dragon ruin your motorcycle vacation. There are plenty of great rides just over the hill. These are some of the best, more to come.

Contact http://americaridesmaps.com for more suggestions and advice.

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What’s The Best Section of the Blue Ridge Parkway?

Photo - Admiring the view from the Looking Glass Rock overlook

Photo - Admiring the view from the Looking Glass Rock overlook

Easy question. It’s in North Carolina. I can almost see it from my window. I moved here to be close to it and enjoy it on my motorcycle. I know every twist and bump. The best section of the Blue Ridge Parkway with the best ride runs south from Asheville to Soco Gap near motorcycle friendly Maggie Valley.

Photo - As falls comes so do the bikes

Photo - As falls comes so do the bikes on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Why is it the best? It’s the highest and most scenic section. There are more great pull-outs here than any other stretch. Most of it is above 5000 feet. It has everything motorcycle riders come for. Waterfalls, impressive rock formations, winding tunnels, pristine wilderness, vast stretches of rolling mountains on every horizon, and one of the best places to eat on the parkway, the Pisgah Inn. When I used to run  motorcycle tours through this section I‘d always figure about 4 hours to hit the highlights and sometimes it was a tight schedule. If you see only one section of the Blue Ridge Parkway, this should be it.

Photo - Early in the spring traffic is light and skies are clear

Early in the spring traffic is light and skies are clear on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Make this one of your prime destinations on your motorcycle vacation, but don’t limit yourself to the parkway while you’re here. You could spend weeks riding the fabulous roads which snake through the Smoky Mountains you see from those overlooks. They are packed with more waterfalls, scenery that will fill your camera, and some of the most challenging motorcycle roads you’ll ever ride.

Photo - Devil's Courthouse snow covered in Winter

Spectacular Devil's Courthouse snow covered in winter

Impressive any time of year, I never take this section of the Blue Ridge Parkway for granted and visit almost every week. It never disappoints. It one of the most scenic motorcycle rides anywhere.

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