Larry and Bob S. took advantage of some free time and a promising day to explore some less frequently used Forest Service roads in the Chattahoochee National Forest
They entered the forest off of Nimblewill Church Road on FS 28-1, went up past Camp Wahsega, then up the hill on FS 80 to its junction with FS-42 (aka Cooper Gap Rd.), north of Camp Merrill. It was an enjoyable ride but nothing new so far. Going west on 42, a ways past the cliffs, they got on FS-69 (Rock Creek Rd) to see what they could see.
FS 69's surface was on par with most better FS roads and allowed a quick ride all the way to the fish hatchery. They stopped there and inspected the many ponds full of different size and color trout (Brook, Brown, Rainbow??) Larry figured this open- to- the-sky area must attract eagles or other raptors. On their way back to the KLR and Ural a few "ranger" vehicles appeared. The two motorcyclists thought they were in for it, as they were in a "Do Not Enter" "Official Vehicles Only" area. Not so, the "rangers" were friendly, telling them them that not only raptors but bears and other hungry ones made it over or through the fences to feast on the fish. They also gave a verbal description of how to get to the swinging bridge over the Toccoa without running out to Ga 60. It sounded doable (if you could remember all the twist and turns).
Most sane people get to the bridge on the short ride off of Ga 60. Not them. They took an unmarked road (FS 248) over a small bridge then turned right onto another unmarked "road"(FS 333), forded a stream, and continued on to what they figured was likely near the south side of the bridge (they never saw the gate the rangers promised). They took a chance and hiked down the steep Benton McKay trail to the river and there was the bridge.
After lounging on the bridge for a while, enjoying the sun, they thought about lunch at VanZandts. Again the boring way to get there was to back track to FS 69 and head for Ga 60 and Dial road. But on a map they saw what they thought might be an extension of FS 333 that seamed to reach Doublehead Gap Road. Then an adventure began.
As they headed west the "road" looked less and less traveled, eventually leading to a washed out, down hill cut barely wide enough for the Ural.The narrow KLR made it down on the more-or-less stable right side of the cut, but the three wheel Ural had to ride part of the way down with the sidecar wheel on the higher right side and the bike wheels in the washed out left side ditch, not a good posture for a hack. Well about half way down the Ural tipped too far and tried to climb the cut's bank, stripping off, as Urals do, the low left muffler. Larry, seeing the situation, walked back up the hill and put his body weight on the side car step and the two made their way down, took out the tools, and re-attached the muffler.
Still not to Doublehead Gap they pushed along not knowing what to expect, but not wanting to turn back up that hill. Glory be, they eventually came to a graveled road that led eventually to Doublehead Gap Road and an easy ride to VanZandts
After a late lunch Bob talked Larry into one more exploration, a road the is temptingly named Old Dial Road. The lightly used road was paved in Dial but eventually turned to gravel as it skirted the Toccoa and made its swisty way north toward Morganton. About two thirds the way to Morganton it again was paved and soon was stop signed at Ga 60. As it was getting late in the day the two then took Ga 60 back to Dial Road and headed off to home.
It was a fine fine day in the outdoors with just enough adventure to keep one coming back again and again.
On a gray and misty Saturday morning, three riders (BobK, Larry and Mike) met in Ball Ground for a trip across the incomparable Cherohala Skyway connecting Tellico Plains (far SE TN) with Robbinsville (far W NC).
The Cherohala was built to promote tourism in the area and the name combines the two national forests it passes through – the Cherokee and the Nantahala. The term “Skyway” applies because the road traverses the upper ridge lines of the southern Appalachians (elevation 3000’ – 5400’) and offers gorgeous vistas on both sides. Different than the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Skyway curves aren’t as tight and the road is paved wider and with numerous scenic turnouts, resulting in a better flowing, spectacular roadway perfect for motorcycles.
We left Ball Ground and took the fast lane to Blue Ridge, in rain gear mostly for the extra warmth it provided against the cooler-than-forecasted start of the day. After a coffee stop in Blue Ridge, we shed the rain pants, but still needed something over our summer mesh jackets. From there it was beautiful TN 68 to Tellico. We thoroughly enjoyed our trip across the Skyway and at the eastern end had a decision to make… backtrack the Skyway, then lunch in Tellico and home… or a quicker lunch in Robbinsville, then loop SW toward home. Food wins!
We found a lunch spot perfect for Bikers – The Hub – with BBQ and upscale American diner menu served on their large and casual covered patio. We’ll be back.
After lunch we finally felt the forecasted warmth and shed the extra gear. From Robbinsville, we traveled S to Topton (where the Nantahala Gorge begins), then took the fast lane down thru Andrews and Murphy to Blue Ridge, then 515 / 575 home to Cherokee. A 300 mile day of good riding and good company. What more can you ask for? Join us next time.
Is there a better time than fall for riding and camping in the north Georgia mountains? - No! Friday afternoon 5 riders (BobK, Dave, Larry, Mel, and Scott) sneaked away from work and met for an overnight ride to Suches. Beautiful sunny weather and a forecasted cool down awaited us. We traveled old favorite backroads like Grandview and 136 though the Burnt Mountain area and then Sunrise and Doublehead Gap around the west side of the forest to a well-deserved break at Van Zandt’s in Dial. Although we were seeing more clouds than sun, surely it wouldn’t rain on our camping parade?
At Dial, Dave, Larry and Mel split off to take forest service roads to Suches while BobK and Scott traveled “twisty 60” to our overnight destination, Two Wheels Only of Suches, or TWO. Since Bob and Scott made better time, they arrived first, picked a nice grassy area next to the creek and set up their tents – just before the skies opened up! Oh well, typical for Suches in the summer (elevation 3000’ – there’s a reason everything is so green). Dave/Larry/Mel were just exiting the forest when it started raining and made a mad dash to TWO’s porch and rockers to wait out the shower before setting up tents, staying (mostly) dry.
TWO had a nice crowd of riders from all surrounding states as well as a good contingent of locals. Steaks were great and the fellowship even better. The cool evening was perfect for a hot fire and cold beverages.
In the morning we enjoyed TWO’s hot breakfast, then broke camp. With no Saturday day-trippers joining us, we headed out early for an entirely traffic-free trip (!!) across Wolf Pen Gap toward Brasstown Bald. We rode the twisty spur up and back, but didn’t take in the overlook since prime leaf-peeping was still several weeks out. We also enjoyed light traffic to 75, then S to Helen where we “touristed it up” at King Ludgwig’s Biergarten for lunch and people watching – we weren’t disappointed, with either.
Here's are video clips from the ride
After lunch, Mel departed toward home in Athens while the rest of us partook the Richard Russell Scenic Highway northward, then 19 southward to a break at Neel’s Gap (on the AT) then on to Dahlonega. From there it was backroads to Dawson, then East Cherokee and home. Mileage was 235 for the two days and home by 3 PM. It was a great time and I doubt I can wait another year for another camp-n-ride opportunity. Join us next time.
Five of us took advantage of the first sunny day in a while to ride up to Two Wheels of Suches (aka TWO) for a day of their 2-Stroke and Vintage Weekend. Dan, Dave, Larry and Bob S. rode up from Hickory Flat via Clay Creek and Black Mountain while Mel rode in from Athens.
TWO's parking area was loaded with motorcycles of every description, many that were true classics of the seventies and eighties, others rare pristine models many of us have read about but never saw up close. Rather than try to describe bikes the turbocharged six cylinder Honda or the three cylinder 2-stroke Yamaha I'll let the videos tell the story.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_gIT4SvG0w
Rust – a strange theme, but… Despite the long string of rainy weather, we lucked into the only “below 50%” day in what seemed like weeks for our August ride. Eight riders met Saturday morning for a run to the Foxfire Museum and Appalachian Heritage Center in far NE Ga (Larry, Dave, Garrett, Richard, Dennis, Bob K, Mike, and Dan). It was great to ride with a few who hadn’t joined us in some time.
( l to r) Garrett, Mike, Bob K, Dennis, Dave, Richard, Larry
We plowed thru 90% tropical humidity as we worked our way toward Cleveland where we met our 9th rider, Mel. Thankfully we didn’t stop long or the oppressive humidity would have rusted us in place. We continued on back roads thru Clarkesville, Tallulah Falls, then up 441 through Clayton. After a handful of missed turns (I’m rusty with my GPS!), we had to shake the rust off our off-camber stops and turns on tight mountain roads as we worked our way to the heritage center in Mountain City.
t was interesting envisioning Appalachian life as we toured the old log cabins and viewed the rusty farm relics so vital to them. As I was learning about “hog scalding”, I was amazed to hear stories from two of our riders who grew up helping their families with that activity around the holidays. Although we thoroughly enjoyed the chapel UP the hill, the humidity was taking its toll – time to roll.
We headed back south to Clayton for lunch at The Rusty Bike Café, a new stop for everyone. Food and service were excellent and we’ll certainly be back (maybe in Nov when we visit Tallulah Gorge for the water release?) My plan was to head SW by 1 PM to avoid the certain afternoon storms, but… As we left a little late, we could see the clouds building and begin to smell rain.
Rather than taking the busier 76 hwy toward the N end of Lake Burton, we tried a new route thru Tiger which took us on some gorgeous, lightly-traveled, curvy country roads skirting Lake Rabun and Lake Burton. Very pleasant and I’m sure we’ll add those to our redo list as well. One minute we were headed toward a dark storm, then we’d curve toward beautiful skies, only to curve toward rain again – both beautiful and nerve-wracking at the same time! After Lake Burton, Mel peeled off toward his home in Athens (and taking a dousing in the process). The rest of us managed to skirt all the storms as we worked our way to a well-earned ice cream break in Dahlonega. By this point we’d passed the most active storms and enjoyed a clear (and warm!) trip home via the back roads.
Here are a few clips from Dave's video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lZm_vfA3H4
Mileage was 220. Join us next time.