Eight riders (Dave, Steve, Bob (the younger), Melinda, Garrett, Tad, Mel and Rick),and one man with a camera (Bob the Elder) met at Honda's Riding School in Alpharetta early in the morning Saturday to add to their riding skills by spending the day on dirt bikes out on the trails set up by Honda as examples of what a rider could expect out in the boondocks.
The eight were split into two groups with each group having two instructors. Each group followed a riding agenda set out by the group's instructors that allowed the two groups to be on the trails without getting in each others way. As a result the videos could not capture all of the activity and in fact did miss some interesting "happenings". Never-the-less you'll find this video gives a good idea of what went on:
Old Favorites! April 8, 2017
Saturday the 8th, five riders (Tad, Dave, Garrett, Steve D, and Larry) met in Ball Ground for a leisurely ride through North Ga. Although very brisk at the start, the day warmed nicely and the blustery winds of the past week were mercifully absent.
l/r Steve D.,Dave, Larry, Tad, Garrett
We headed N toward Jasper and followed “old favorites” like Grandview, 136, Sunrise Ridge, and Doublehead Gap up to Dial, Ga for a well-deserved pit stop at Van Zandt’s Riverwalk Grill. The new owners have proven to be a real asset to this “old favorite” pit stop – and their enhanced menu might make a good lunch stop on a future ride. From there, it was a great, traffic-free ride down twisty 60 to Suches for lunch at TWO (the original motorcycle campground and lodge in the SE). We enjoyed the many bikes and camaraderie with fellow riders, even meeting a German rider spending some time in our area.
l/r Steve D., Dave, Garrett, Tad
After lunch we peeled off layers as the day was warming beautifully and enjoyed a (somewhat rare) traffic-free pass over Wolf Pen Gap, then traveled down the beautiful Richard Russell Scenic Parkway (not so traffic-free). From there it was a straight shot home along 115, Bannister, Matt Hwy/369.
Total mileage was about 200 and we were home around 4.
While we’d seen these roads and stops before, they really are our favorites and we encourage you to try them as well. Or join us and we’ll take you!
Well we didn't get the high 60's Mellish promised but we settled for what could be considered a very mild February day. Six of us headed out from Ball Ground at 10:20 taking little used backroads. The back road sights, sounds and smells make a ride interesting and at least to some riders much preferred over the much faster, and boring Interstates. Damascus Road and Henderson Mountain get a thumbs up, as does Jerusalem Church Road.
Soon however we had to make time going west so we hopped on Ga 136 for a fast ride over to Ga 225, aka Chieftains Trail, purported to be the route of part of the Trail Of Tears. There's nothing much to see on Ga 136 west of US 411 but lots of chicken houses, sometimes whole villages of them.
Ga 225 took us south toward Calhoun but soon after crossing the Coosawattee we turned into the grounds of the New Echota Historic Site, the capital of the Cherokee Nation abandoned as part of the Indian Removal of the 1830's.
This was not the peak tourist time for New Echota. There were few visitors and only two rangers on duty, one of whom was on lunch break when we arrived. Only a few of the less interesting buildings were open but one of the rangers caught up with us on the grounds and opened up the print shop. The ranger spent a good deal of time with us, not only describing the printing history but also filling us in on a wide range of subjects relative to the Cherokees of yesterday and today.
From New Echota we headed into Calhoun for lunch following a simple route.. 225 to 3 to Ga 53. What should have been a fifteen minute ride turned into a lengthy, and comical tour of the hills of Calhoun, as road signs marking the way were either confusing or nonexistent. It took two GPS' and some dumb luck to finally get on track.
We stopped for lunch at the "Classic Kitchen", a place none of us had been to before, but had good reviews. We worried a bit when we sat down in an empty room, but when the food was served all was well.
After lunch we rode Ga 53 over to Fairmount then got back on backroads to Ball Ground. In spite of the overcast coolish day all riders seemed to enjoy the ride.
Here's a link to a short video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-27el-Br_nI
Well we had it all, sun, clouds, cold, wind, rain, and snow...but we had a blast.
No sooner than the five of us (Richard, Al, Jarrod, Garrett and yours truly) headed north from Hickory Flat we could see dark clouds forming far to the north. Probably we thought, that's the rain they forecasted for late afternoon.
Our plan was to ride over to Silver City then up Ga 9 and cross country to catch Ga 115 near Garland on our way to Cleveland's McD to meet Tad and Mel coming up from more eastern areas. But you know about plans. Soon after we got to Silver City we came upon warning signs about a road closure. Sure enough Ga 9 was closed north of Dawson Forest. We changed plans and crossed Ga 400 onto Ga 136 and after negotiating cross country, picked up Ga 115 and headed to Cleveland as planned. In Cleveland we got to study the workings of the McD franchise and interview locals in the parking lot, while Mel and Tad scouted a new route to Cleveland via Tallulah Falls.
Once the seven of us were together we rode toward Helen but wisely turned east at the Indian Mound and again north at Sautee Nacoochee. Soon we were on Smuggler's Road passing Lake Burton and Moccasin Creek State Park, on the way to Lookout Mountain Scenic Parkway (aka US 76). Turning west onto US 76 we rode over to Hiawassee for lunch (Ga Mountain Restaurant) and talk about what we would find riding up Bell Mountain. Would the grade and hairpin turns be a hazard if jeeps were on the "trail"? Would the three scooters, without engine braking to speak of, overheat their brakes on the way down? These and other concerns were put to rest by Jarrod, who had been up the mountain on his dual sport before, and some of the locals who reassured us as well.
Right they were. Yes it was a steep slope and the switch backs were tight and often close together, but unless you met head on with a four wheeler with a nervous driver, it was very doable, even pleasant. On top the view was fantastic, and if you climbed the new stairs to the very top, a 360 degree view was afforded
(l-r) Garrett, Mel, Al, Bob, Jarrod, Richard, Tad
From on top we could see snow beginning to form on some distant mountains in North Carolina. By the time we headed down Bell, snow flurries were frequent and, and at the lower elevations rain showers started off and on.
Here's a video of the trip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kDRFVJl8To
The ride home was down Ga 75, again bypassing Helen. After a stop in Dahlonega at the top of Ga 400 we were back in Hickory Flat within an hour.
It seems everyone enjoyed the adventure. Total mileage was around 210 (more if you came via Tallulah Falls LOL)
They finally got to ride most of the route planned for mid-December, and were lucky; no ice, no snow and Spring like temperatures
Seven riders (Dave, Steve D.,Dennis, Garrett, Richard, Tad and Bob S.) took off from Hickory Flat heading, in a round about way, to Amicalola Falls State Park and lunch at the lodge. The route there passed through areas of near forgotten names such as Holbrook, Ducktown, Heardville and Hightower, then onto Kelly Bridge Road and Lovelady over to the Foothills junction near Big Canoe.
After a brief stop at the Chevron the group rode east to take in the scenery in the Sweetwater-Juno countryside. Soon they made their way to the Bailey Waters intersection with Ga 52 and from there over to Amicalola Falls State Park.
In past years motorcycles entering the park for lunch at the lodge were waived through the park's entrance without paying any fee. While still a free entry the attendant insisted on filling out a temporary permit for each motorcycle. The cars behind were not pleased.
The steep ride up to the lodge showed signs of heavy sanding of ice from last weeks ice-snow storm. Its doubtful if any guests made it up (or down) for a day or two. Lunch was being served when they arrived. They were lucky to find a table for seven near the massive windows overlooking the forest. During weekends there is no lunch menu but rather a well stocked food bar. No one complained about the food but the price was a surprise. In past year's the tab was somewhere under $10 but now it's somewhere around $17 unless one takes advantage of the various discounts (senior, annual park pass, veteran) that bring the tab back to were it used to be.
After lunch the group was hooted out of the lodge by a very vocal owl that was part of the Raptor Show put on by the Park Rangers. Back in the parking area a few of the guys looked over the new zip-line facility. It doesn't appear to be as extensive as the zip-lines they previously enjoyed over in Lula but it may be a nice addition to a future ride to the park.
After leaving the park the group rode over to Ga 136 then over the mountain to Grandview (the lake is almost empty) then Ga 53 past the marble buildings in Tate to pick up Fincher Road going south toward Waleska. Before entering Waleska they turned onto Pleasant Valley Road and rode to its end at Salacoa Road. A quick mile east on Ga 140 brought them to the twisty Little Refuge Road adjacent to Lake Arrowhead, that ended back on Fincher. They headed south, but before reaching Ga 20 they took a slow and respectful ride through the Veteran's Cemetery. This is nicely done, a credit to the builders and the Canton man who donated the hundreds of acres necessary for its construction.
Here's short video of highlights https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StS3Xy-1VlI&feature=youtu.be
From there it was a short ride home (except for Tad) and the close of a great day on two wheels.