On a crystal clear Friday afternoon, six riders (Larry, Scott, Dennis, Mel, Dave, and John) met in Ball Ground for our fall overnight ride to Suches. The warm afternoon was just beginning to give way to blustery north winds as we headed through Jasper and the Burnt Mountain area. After passing the Amicalola Falls area along 52, we stopped for a breather at Nimblewill Church off 52.
From there, Larry and Dave took the direct route to Suches (forest service!) while the rest of the gang continued on the traditional route, 52 to Dahlonega, then “twisty 60” up over Woody Gap to Suches. Both groups thought they had the best ride!
What Suches lacks in size, it makes up for in beauty – and this fall day didn’t disappoint. The color change was underway and the mountains looked stunning across the blue lake. A bright yellow plane seemed to float motionless above the blue lake and green grass of Georgia’s highest airport (well, airstrip) at High Valley, elevation 2800’.
We set up tents along the creek, then as the light dimmed, headed into the lodge at TWO (the original motorcycle campground in the SE). The steaks were good and the fellowship even better. Dave couldn’t stay and headed home while the rest enjoyed a warm campfire and visiting with other moto travelers, like Daniel from AL. As we headed to bed, that clear sky we enjoyed earlier meant we’d have a cold night – about 35 degrees!
Everyone fared well thru the night, but it did make TWO’s renowned breakfast all the better. Tad rode up from Duluth and met us at 10 (brrrr!), We headed to our first stop just down the road at High Valley to see a yellow plane which kept taking off and landing. We were surprised to find a large fly-in of “Carbon Cubs” from all around the SE (almost all painted yellow!) – nearly twenty planes.
It was fun to see them and meet a few pilots, but we had our own piloting to do, so we continued on Wolf Pen Gap (GA’s “Dragon”) to 75, then down toward Helen. From there we ran up the Richard Russell SCENIC highway, then down 129 thru Neels Gap, sampling some of the very best motorcycle roads in GA.
After a quick lunch at Turners Corner, we headed down to Dahlonega and its Gold Rush Days festival traffic – ughhh. Tad routed us around, then it was down 400, then 369 back to Cherokee County where we all peeled off toward home. Total miles for both days was about 240, and a great 240 they were! Join us next time.
First… no motorcyclists were harmed in the making of this ride report (only a minor bike “owee”)…
Saturday morning, Sept 12th, six riders met for a beautiful ride to TN along the Ocoee river and Chilhowee Recreation Area – Mel (Larry’s coworker), his neighbor Dave, Mark, Larry, Paul and his friend, Bob F. Although cloudy and muggy heading to our start in Ball Ground, we could just begin to feel the season’s first real cold front pushing in refreshing, dry air.
Similar to last month’s ride, we took the back roads up through Tate, Jasper, and Ellijay for a leisurely trip to Blue Ridge. At Blue Ridge, we’d earned a seat break (again at the world’s busiest McDonalds), but when we parked, where’s Paul? I saw him just two miles back. Phone rings, “Hey, I think my battery is dead”. Bob and Larry head back to Paul and push start him easily, but suspected his bike wasn’t charging. He made it to a gas station a mile down the road, but it didn’t have enough juice to run consistently. We called a local shop which came out and jumped started him. So Paul and Bob headed to the nearby shop for further diagnosis (and an early return home). With Paul in good hands, the remaining four continued.
It had been too long since I’d been to the SE corner of TN and had forgotten what a nice ride TN 64 is along the Ocoee river (for car or bike). The road is wide, well-paved, and not too twisty to prevent us from enjoying the beautiful river and mountain views. The river seemed almost continual white water and numerous rafters and kayakers were making the most it. After the 20 mile stretch of white water, we came to the Chilhowee Recreation Area where we looped around the east, north, then west side. The east side, Hwy 30 - Greasy Creek, is very comparable to Wolf Pen Gap, but in denser shade and less traffic – very enjoyable! The north stretch was similar. The west side was straight and empty roads providing an open view of the Chilhowee mountain area on our left.
The Ocoee Dam Diner was an enjoyable lunch stop with good menu and service. Since we were running behind schedule, we passed on heading to the top of Chilhowee (with its renowned vistas – another time!) and headed back to Blue Ridge and another helping of Ocoee river views! At the east end of the rafting stretch, we enjoyed the scenic Boyd Gap pullout for a view of the Big Frog Wilderness, headwaters of the Ocoee.
Once we hit Blue Ridge, it was the fast lane home down 515 / 575.
Mileage 240. It was a great ride and we hope to see you next time!
Saturday morning, June13th, our largest group in recent memory (11) met at the Ball Ground Chevron for a leisurely tour toward Ellijay and the beautiful Fort Mountain overlook. We were seen off by Richard who was still jet-lagged from his Turkey trip (thanks for the photo and video, Richard).
We left shortly after 9 in perfect short sleeve temperatures – and with a clear forecast no less! Our route was a “Bob S Special” guaranteed to include peaceful, lightly-traveled backroads. We meandered toward Ellijay on the beautiful combination of Pleasant Arbor / Salacoa / Jerusalem Church/ Swan Bridge, then took a brief “seat break” before heading thru Ellijay.
Traveling west out of Ellijay on 52, we headed into, and up, the mountains, then stopped at the Cohutta Overlook to enjoy the view
. There we discussed the Fort Mountain stop ahead and its awesome westerly overlook. We strategized how we might sweet-talk the ranger into letting us by without paying the state’s $5/vehicle fee (not motorcycle friendly). No dice! Seven of us opted for the park and four decided to rest in the shade. It’s a few tenths mile hike out to the overlook but well worth the effort, but take the unmarked “left fork” in the trail to shave off about a 100’ of up, then down, elevation. The “lucky seven” weren’t disappointed. First-time visitors thought the 1800’ drop-off view was one of the best they’d seen.
Just outside the Ft. Mtn. park is a turn-out with a southerly view, but Dennis reminded us not to take it in as it sits on the most pronounced decreasing radius turn in our area (we all negotiated it well). From there, it was a highlight-reel ride down the mountain to Chatsworth and lunch at Edna’s.
We weren't expecting a table that could seat our large group, but Edna’s delivered with a large table in a separate room all to ourselves (perhaps to keep us away from the good folk of Chatsworth?). Lunch and service were great and recommended if you’re in the area.
After lunch, Mike had to hustle back to a family gathering and Paul and the “West Paulding” gang decided to stay on 411 to Cartersville as their best way home. The rest of the group, being a little weary in the midday heat, decided to save the “Old Federal” backroads for another time and stayed on the faster 411 south to 136, then leisurely traveled eastward on 136 to Jasper, then south on Burnt Mountain and 53 down thru Tate to Ball Ground where we started.
Total mileage was an easy 125 miles – although the “West Paulding” gang added another 150 miles to join us! And we’re glad they did. Hope to see you next time!
On a comfortable Saturday morning, 6 riders met for a leisurely tour of North Ga – Larry, Richard, Bob K, Steve G and Steve D, with his son-in-law Clay (glad to have you). With a muggy, but clear, forecast, they headed up old 5 to Jasper, then on to Ellijay via Jones Mountain and Yukon Roads. The air hung heavy with the scent of chicken farms! Leaving Ellijay on Boardtown Road, we managed to find even more farms along the serene back roads of Gilmer county. By then, we’d earned a “seat and coffee” break at (the world’s busiest!) McDonalds in Blue Ridge.
The ride continued with a beautiful pass across the Lake Blue Ridge dam, then onward to Suches. “Twisty 60” lived up to its nickname by starting with gentle sweepers in the Morganton area, then becoming ever-tighter as we ascended to Suches, the beautiful “Valley Above the Clouds”.
At TWO (Two Wheels of Suches), we enjoyed eyeing the “moto candy” as we soaked in the mountain views from our porch gliders. This was Richard’s first visit and he was quite taken by the babbling brook running through this original motorcycle resort in the SE – maybe we’ll see him on a future ride-n-camp here!
After enjoying a hearty lunch in the lodge, we hustled out of TWO in a handful of raindrops (where did they come from - I guess that’s why Suches is so green!) southward to Woody Gap (AT crossing), then down the twistiest curves 60 has to offer. On the way to Dahlonega, we pulled into Riders’ Hill so the group could see all they had to offer (sales, service, restaurant, gear – not a bad way to kill time while getting maintenance done). From there, we continued into Dahlonega. Auraria and Castleberry Ridge roads were both a scenic and peaceful, yet lightly-traveled and fast route to Dawsonville. From there it was 53 West and Yellow Creek south to our homes in the Cherokee area (and by early afternoon, no less!) Mileage was 160.
Chalk this up as a great ride day. Join us next time.
Despite worrisome weather forecasts (30% - 70% rain), Larry, Scott and Dennis hoped for the best for their overnight to TWO Wheels Only of Suches, Ga. They met at 3:15 in Ball Ground and promptly headed North before an advancing shower caught them. To their surprise, the skies cleared and they enjoyed a beautiful ride to Jasper, then across the Burnt Mt area (136) and past Amicalola Falls (52).
Larry required a “seat break” so he took the opportunity to show the others the Nimblewill Church area off 52, a favorite jumping-off spot to enter the Chattahoochee Forest; then onward to Dahlonega. Following Bob S’ advice, they routed around Dahlonega to avoid Friday afternoon congestion - and they weren’t disappointed. First was the beautiful Clay Creek Falls, then the serene and vacant backroads all the way to the “Stone Pile”. From there it was up “twisty 60” to Woody Gap and Suches – a beautiful precursor of Saturday’s plan.
They found the facilities at TWO in tip top shape and couldn’t believe they were the only ones not scared off by the weather! As they set up tents next to the babbling brook, they marveled at their good fortune (and good cell service) to fire off a few “your bike should be here” pics – and wondered if they could get as lucky tomorrow. After a hearty dinner in the lodge, they tried their best to wear out the porch gliders while enjoying the mountain views – can’t be done. Nighttime temps were only about 60 and they slept well.
(campsite...TWO Main House in Background)
Dennis’ hall pass expired in the morning, so after breakfast he headed home while Tad rode up from Duluth to meet them Like a replay of the previous day, forecast models were wildly different causing them to question the sanity of venturing outside. But they kept the faith and pressed on.
( Tad and The Meeting Place)
First up was Wolf Pen Gap (180); never disappointing. Their good fortune continued for while a large bicycle ride was in progress, it was routed in the opposite direction, so not an obstacle. Whew! Then the sun broke thru as they enjoyed a run up and over Unicoi (75) heading to Helen for lunch at the Meeting Place. In Helen, they enjoyed watching more VW’s (of all types and vintages) than they ever remembered and learned they were holding a national rally there that weekend (but their activities seemed mostly in town and not on the roads). After Helen, the beautiful weather continued as they traveled up the scenic Richard Russell (348) and down 129 to get up and over Blood Mt. After a break at Neels Gap they headed down thru Dahlonega toward home.
(Dennis and Scott)
Friday mileage 100, Saturday mileage 150, and home by 3:00. It was an awesome trip and we hope to see you on the next one!