Scenic fall drives are a perfect way to view the autumn leaves at many elevations in one afternoon. But, if you want to take your drive up a notch, we have a few ideas of how to be an extreme color hunter on two wheels. Experience fall drives with the wind in your hair. (You may even get some leaves in your hair for a souvenir.)
Forget the car, and ride into town on your motorcycle. Don’t own a bike? Gryphon Bikes in nearby Maggie Valley rents Harley-Davidson motorcycles by the day. Gryphon Bikes also offers group customized tours, so get your buddies together and take a ride.
Our friends at Wheels Through Time Museum have helped us put together some favorite rides of motorcycle enthusiasts. Make sure to stop by the museum that features a collection of over 250 rare antique American Motorcycles and Automobiles.
From the Visitor Center parking lot, turn right onto Montford Avenue. Take another right at the light to merge onto I-240 W. Take exit 4A onto Highway 19/23 N. After approximately 8-10 miles you will see a sign for Hot Springs. After the underpass, exit right onto Highway 25/70 going north toward Marshall. Follow the scenic mountain road for about 30 miles to Hot Springs. Hot Springs is the home of Western North Carolina's only natural hot water springs/baths. The town is surrounded by the Pisgah National Forest, so there will be plenty of opportunity to enjoy the area’s outdoor offerings.
From the Visitor Center parking lot, turn right onto Montford Avenue. Take a left after the bridge onto Haywood St. Take another left at the next traffic light onto I-240 E. Within half a mile, take exit 5B for Charlotte St. and take a right out of the exit. Take your first left onto College St., and your first left again onto Town Mountain Rd. This road will take you up into the mountains, and intersects with the Blue Ridge Parkway after about 6 miles.
Take a left onto the Blue Ridge Parkway, then follow it as far as time allows. You'll reach Craggy Gardens after 10 miles, and Mount Mitchell after another 10. Mount Mitchell is the highest peak east of the Mississippi River, featuring a panoramic viewing platform at the summit. Keep an eye out for overlooks, pulloffs and trailheads along the way.
From the Visitor Center parking lot, turn right onto Montford Avenue. Turn right at the light to merge onto I-240 W, also I-26E. Follow signs to stay on I-26 E. Take exit 33 for Brevard Rd., also 191. Turn left to go south. After 2.4 miles, turn right towards the NC Arboretum, then stay straight to reach the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Turn right onto the Blue Ridge Parkway, then follow it as far as time allows. You'll reach Mount Pisgah after about 13 miles, then Craggy Gardens after another 13. Keep an eye out for overlooks, pulloffs and trailheads along the way.
Turn right out of the Visitor Center parking lot. Take the first right at the light to merge onto I-240 W. Stay on I-240 W toward Canton/ Knoxville. From I-40 W, take exit 20 and travel 0.2 miles on route 276. Turn right onto Cove Creek Road and follow the signs into the Cataloochee Valley.
The first 1.5 miles of Cove Creek Road are paved; the next 6 miles are hard packed dirt. (Not recommended for motorcycles after heavy rains.) After this drive, you will see a wide, paved road, dead ending to the right, but offering access to the left. Take the left turn for a beautiful scenic drive displaying unimproved homesteads, a school, church, and barn. There is lots of hiking trails and waterfalls (must hike to see them). Take a picnic and relax. To come back, simply reverse your route to the museum.
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