Favorite Local Motorcycle Routes: North Carolina
by ROGER HEUMANN on Aug 22, 2021
North Carolina has some of the greatest motorcycle rides in the entire country. With beautifully diverse scenery, riders find themselves truly inspired by what they see. Riders can enjoy the Blue Ridge Mountains, Piedmont Plateau, green rolling hills, and even the Atlantic Coast Plain. With access to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, there are more great roads to enjoy than there is time in the day. But these favorite routes are a good place to start exploring what North Carolina has to offer.
Tail of the Dragon
This route, which is also called Deal’s Gap, is an 11-mile stretch that goes along The Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The sparsely populated southwest corner of the state looks almost like it lies in Tennessee, but it crosses into North Carolina as well. The scenery includes the Smoky Mountains as well as lush forests and evergreen mountains. The curves have been called seductive and a great place for riders to test their skills. There are 318 curves in just 11 miles! There are also sharp turns, steep drop-offs and plenty of other challenges. There’s one store at the end of the ride and not many pull over stops along the way. Be prepared and drive slowly and safely.
Blue Ridge Parkway
The 469-mile drive ambles through the countryside with stops at old millponds and millwheel regions. There are some Civil War battle sites along the way as well. The lower half of the drive includes the Smoky Mountains and places to see like old plantation houses, blowing rocks and more. The route ends at a Cherokee Indian reservation where there’s a museum and an inspiring outdoor drama that are worth a stop. Some of the roads are limited access and in good quality. There are not a lot of stops along the way with much to offer riders. If your hands tend to get numb on long rides, make sure you are wearing a pair of Anit-Vibe Adjustable Motrocycle Gloves to enjoy every mile of the ride in comfort.
This 21-mile trek follows Route 28 south into Franklin, North Carolina. You’ll get to ride through the woods and see waterfalls near by with access to three of those as you go along. You can drive under Bridal Veil and walk under Dry Falls. The nice black top road has switchbacks and turns and there isn’t a lot of traffic to contend with. The safe drive does not have camping, shopping, or restaurants, but it’s not a long drive and there are places near the route that are accessible.
This route includes 22-miles of a two lane mountain side road. Commercial traffic is small and the road is wide open for bikers and motorcycle riders. You get sweeping curves and dangerous drop offs along the lake near the Great Smoky Mountains. There are not many drives in the entire country that can equal the beauty along this route. Enjoy the dense forested mountains surrounded by water, but concentrate on the road as well.
High Heaven Ride
You can take this route in an hour and go through Nantahala Gorge with a waterfall view from the top of the road. You can drive behind the fall and get a different angle on the beauty. The road runs along Highway 28 and has some sharp curves and twists, but mostly stays level. The challenge is that you never go straight, but the road is smooth so it’s an easier ride than some. There are some pull off stops so you can take in the river views and you can even swim if it’s a hot day.
The Coastal Hugger
If you want to be surrounded by water, nothing beats this 112-mile trek. You’ll have the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Intercoastal Waterway (among others) on the other side. There are lots of sand dunes and on a nice day, you’ll catch people flying kites and enjoying the weather. The Bodie Island lighthouse is near the route and worth a stop. There are a lot of other tourist attractions along the way as well as good shopping and restaurants.
North Carolina has more to offer motorcycle riders than almost any other state in the country. With beauty beyond anything you’ve ever seen before, it’s hard to describe the routes until you’ve seen them for yourself. It would take quite a while to explore everything the state has to offer so examine the routes with care and choose what appeals to you most.