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Old 10-05-2013, 08:07 AM   #1
spklbuk OP
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Scratchin’ the Dragon’s Back and Ticklin’ a Few o’ his Ribs

We usually do a summer trip somewhere, but this year it did not happen. A three-day weekend was the best Spkldoe and me could manage. A cabin at a small private campground on the Wytheville side of Big Walker Mountain in Bland County, VA would serve as home base.

Spkldoe and Alegany at our first butt break in Rich Creek, VA

Alegany’s adornments


We checked into our rented shanty, unloaded our gear and then took a relaxing scenic ride up the Krenning Valley that lies between Big Walker Mountain to the north and Little Walker Mountain to the south. To loop back to camp, we rode across Big Walker on CR738, an interesting road to be sure and the first Dragon’s Ribs tickled.

We looped back toward camp through Bland for to tickle another Dragon Rib and on a spirited run up Big Walker, Allegany showed us her sporty side. Near Big Walker Lookout, we passed a KLR entering Route 52 from a dirt road, aptly named Big Walker Mountain Road that runs east along the mountain and noticed a sign indicating Big Bend Overlook was 4 miles in. I made a mental note that it might be worth a looksee.

Up Big Walker US52S

Next morning we waited for the fog to lift, scooted back up to the lookout, and picked up Old Mountain Road to enjoy a view of the Bluegrass Trail Valley along VA 42. Foglesong Valley Road took us winding through an idyllic slice of agricultural paradise.


Exhausting the west end of CR622, we exited onto the Bluegrass Trail, traveled a few miles east to VA16, and lit square in the middle of the Back of the Dragon. Our first taste of Dragon Backstrap was north over Little Brushy and Clinch Mountains.

We were enjoying a good run, but we not out early enough to avoid the nowadays nearly inevitable rolling roadblock. Alegany snorted a disapproving FYYFF!!!; but forsaking the remaining backstrap to the Harelydites we turned southwest on Freestone Valley Road confident we would leave traffic behind. We tickled Dragon Ribs on Little Tumbling Creek and VA91North, the 2-Way Mountain Road.

We traveled over Clinch Mountain to Maiden Springs in Tumbling Creek Valley and followed Wardell Road to Claypool Hill. After a short stint on US 460E, we headed due north on Big Creek Road VA67 and began an easterly turn at Bear Wallow Branch and Greasy Creek Road into Bandy, VA. Bandy Road leads to the Baptist Valley and on to WV16 Adria Road and most notably to the Saturday buffet at Big Daddy’s Family Restaurant in North Tazewell, VA.

After a fulfilling lunch of garden vegetables and pulled chicken bbq, we set off on Fairground Road ALT16S through Frog Level to scratch the Dragon’s Back again. The largest fighting cock farm EVER always signals that twisty fun is about to begin. We tripped over Clinch Mountain again to the intersection of the Bluegrass Trail and turned around for another half run up the mountain.

At the top along Roaring Fork Road Dragon Rib tickling was in order. A striking mountain road, Roaring Fork, leads through deep mountainside forest, past many hunting camps and leases for several miles and into the Jefferson National Forest, crossing the Appalachian Trail and down Soap Creek to the Poor Valley near Ceres.

South side of Clinch Mtn on VA16S Back of the Dragon

Roaring Fork Road Jefferson National Forest

We made for the Kangaroo convenience store at the I-77 exchange near Bland for fuel, adult beverage, makings for a light supper of microwave popcorn and fresh fruit for Sunday morning breakfast. Between camp and us remained the day’s final Dragon Rib tickling session up and over Big Walker…pure rhythmic bliss.

Up early Sunday morning, we packed and mounted up. Back up Big Walker and out Big Walker Mountain Road in search of Big Bend Overlook. Apparently, budget cuts have not permitted brush cutting and the overlook has grown up. Nevertheless, we got a great view of fog filled valleys and VAs highest point Mount Rogers in the distance; obvious to the eye, but not to my point and shoot.

A quick run to Sharon Springs and we were soon ticklin’ a Dragon Rib on CR623 over Garden Mountain to Burkes’ Garden. We passed straight through the Garden and headed out on pavement. Turning south to Tazewell put us back on Adria Road, VA16N and by sheer happenstance right back by Big Daddy’s just in time for the Sunday buffet.

From the outside, Big Daddy’s looks tenuous, but on the inside, the place is solid country gold. Do not pass up the opportunity if it ever presents itself. An aside, par excellent baby back ribs are on the menu every Wed…Prepare to waddle back to yer bike.

Sharon Springs Road VA623 over Garden Mtn

VA623 Out of Burkes Garden

After another great home cooked meal, we headed north on 16, turning up Horsepen Creek at the state line for one last Dragon Rib ticklin’ session on WV161, through the coal camps of Skygusty and Pageton. We kept to mountain roads, passing through Hatfield and McCoys Trail country, until we eventually came out on WV20N and as we set sail for home our pace and bearing became more determined.

Horsepen Road WV161N

The many Dragon Ribs left unexplored will soon draw me back for another visit to Bland, Wythe, Smyth and Tazewell counties for a rib ticklin’ good time. All told, a near perfect three-day weekend!
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Old 10-06-2013, 09:56 AM   #2
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Great write-up and pics! Definitely a terrific way to spend a long weekend. I gotta check out those roads.
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Old 10-06-2013, 03:52 PM   #3
spklbuk OP
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Originally Posted by Blixa View Post
Great write-up and pics! Definitely a terrific way to spend a long weekend. I gotta check out those roads.
Thank ye. Come for the perfect for your Dakar roads but stay for the food at Big Daddy's
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Old 10-06-2013, 04:10 PM   #4
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Man i like it, thanks for sharing.

I live close to that and really need to ride those areas.
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Old 10-07-2013, 05:01 AM   #5
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Been up and down 16 several times over the years, and it is an amazingly good road. Have not had the time to check out much that runs off of it, but looks like I need to do just that sometime....great story and pics. Thanks for sharing!

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Old 10-07-2013, 02:16 PM   #6
spklbuk OP
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Thanks gents. Now that 16 is the "Back of the Dragon," during the week is your best bet if you can swing it. Lots of excellent riding to had nearby. I find good new roads every time I make it down that way.
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