Scenic Fall Routes on a Motorcycle
View the changing autumn color at many elevations in one afternoon, with the wind in your hair. Our friends at Dale's Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley helped us put together some favorite motorcycle rides, leaving from the Asheville Visitor Center. Make sure to stop by the Museum and see its collection of over 300 antique American motorcycles and automobiles.
NOTE: North Carolina law requires that ALL motorcycle riders (operators AND passengers) wear a helmet.
Hot Springs Tour
From the Visitor Center parking lot, turn right onto Montford Avenue. Take another right at the light to merge onto I-240 W, also I-26E. Take exit 4A onto Highway 19/23 N. After approximately 8-10 miles you will see a sign for Hot Springs. After the underpass, take exit 19A onto Highway 25/70 toward Marshall. Follow the scenic mountain road for about 30 miles to Hot Springs, the home of Western North Carolina's only natural hot water springs/baths. The town is surrounded by the Pisgah National Forest, so there is plenty of opportunity to enjoy the area’s outdoor offerings, including access to the Appalachian Trail.
Blue Ridge Parkway - North
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 a left onto College St. and the next left 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 at Milepost 364.6, and Mount Mitchell at Milepost 355. Mount Mitchell is the highest peak east of the Mississippi River, featuring a panoramic viewing platform at the summit. Keep an eye out for scenic overlooks and trailheads along the way.
Blue Ridge Parkway - South
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 and proceed south to the Blue Ridge Parkway entrance.
Turn right onto the Blue Ridge Parkway, then follow it as far as time allows. You'll reach Mount Pisgah at Milepost 408.6 and Devil's Courthouse at Milepost 422.4, which offers a 1/2-mile hike to the top of a stone monolith with 360-degree views. Keep an eye out for scenic overlooks and trailheads along the way.
Cataloochee Valley Tour
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. 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 are lots of hiking trails and waterfalls (must hike to see them). Take a picnic and relax. To come back, simply reverse your route.
Don’t own a bike?
No worries! 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.
Photos by John Fletcher, Jr.