June 2021 Highlands, NC and the Blue Ridge Parkway Camp-N-Ride

in 2021 Articles

We tried for May, but heavy rains forced a reschedule to June. But our luck held and 5 riders (BobK, Dave, Dennis, Larry, and Mel) enjoyed an epic 2 ½ day, 2 night camp-n-ride to western NC. Although weather the week prior had been “off the charts” hot and humid (awful for camping!), a window of gloriously cool, dry air opened just in time. We left Thurs afternoon for the TWO motorcycle campground in Suches via pleasant runs thru Grandview and Sunrise areas to Van Zandt’s in Dial for a rest, then S down Ga’s fabulous twisty-60 to TWO. It was so cool we almost broke out extra layers!

Since TWO doesn’t open their lodge for meals until the weekend, we had to “camp cook”. But lest you think we suffered thru cans of pork ’n beans, the guys really upped their game. Mel now has a compact “Firebox” stove for grilling and combining that with backpack stoves, we made bacon-wrapped filet mignon, steamed green beans, blue cheese crumble salad, and parmesan garlic mashed potatoes!

  

Friday morning consisted of Starbuck instant coffee, freeze-dried egg scrambles, and oatmeal – not bad, but we’re already planning future improvements. Packing up in the cool morning air was a breeze and we quickly headed toward Highlands, NC (HL) to see a few of their “easy-access / drive by” waterfalls. Our morning trip took us across N Ga’s finest twisty, Wolf Pen Gap - and without a car in sight. Then another favorite in far NE Ga, Warwoman Rd, led us to HL. All had forgotten how fun riding to HL is.

Bridal Veil Falls…

And Dry (?!) Falls…

After lunch at the Highlands Smokehouse (Mmmm), we progressed toward our 2nd night’s home, the Blue Ridge Motorcycle Campground (BRMC) about 30 miles W of Asheville and just off the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP). As you can guess, EVERY road in this area is a motorcyclist’s dream, especially the BRP which reaches mile-high elevations in this area. The scenic pullouts are in a league of their own.

We arrived with plenty of time to set up camp, then relax in the cool shade enjoying appetizers and beverages while reliving a fine day’s riding and meeting the local characters.

   

Our second night of camp cooking (not sure why BRMC isn’t running their fine kitchen this year?) also resulted in quality dinners like… red beans and rice with smoked jalapeno cheddar sausage, bangers and mash, and salmon and crackers. No one goes hungry with this crew.

After dinner we tweaked our return plans since the previously-forecasted, 40% afternoon rain for Saturday had morphed into 90% rain in Woodstock by 1 – yuk! But the guys arose with the morning light, made quick breakfasts and broke camp in record time, putting us on the bikes at 7:30 AM. We headed up the mountain for an even longer stretch on the BRP this morning. With almost no traffic, we enjoyed some of the finest riding and views East of the Mississippi. Even a curved tunnel where you can’t “see the light at the end” for some time – eerie!

We hopped off the BRP at Sylva, then took NC64 to Franklin and towards Murphy – this road is pure joy with its “fast sweepers” combined with beautiful mountain scenery. We were on 515 in a jiffy and making great time toward home about the time light rain started in Woodstock. While lunching at Big Un’s BBQ near Talking Rock, we lingered to let the first heavy cell pass by, then donned rain gear and headed for home in only light sprinkles. A small price to pay for such a great ride.

475 miles over 2.5 days (plus a chunk more for Mel from Athens!). Join us next time.