US trip - Appalachian Mountains

Discussion in 'Americas' started by LandLeftBehind, May 2, 2012.

  1. LandLeftBehind

    LandLeftBehind Been here awhile

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    Hey folks,

    I plan on traveling down the eastern half of US mostly through the Appalachian Mountains on the larger part of my US trip.

    I have two main reasons for taking these roads:
    - Amazing scenery, opportunities for hiking; being 'thrust' into nature
    - The opportunity for low cost camping in state parks and free backcountry camping along the appalachian trail

    So I guess what I am looking for is good motorcycle roads, that run along this basic route, avoid major highways, and occasionally cross paths with the AT.

    From what I've seen others have done this with more of a dual-sport flavor. Ill be taking a road bike, so I need to keep it relatively tame :D

    Any suggestions/tips/ideas are appreciated. I will be doing ALOT of research on this in the next few weeks, so ill update occasionally with new information that may be of use to other folks with a similar idea.

    Current idea:
    Skyline Drive
    Blue Ridge Parkway
    .....
    #1
  2. 4PawsHacienda

    4PawsHacienda Been here awhile

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    Starting point? Final destination?
    With the two roads you listed plus a few to the south and west you have everything you need for a great trip. Lot's of small towns and countryside to explore and different foods to sample. You really can't go wrong. Check out FBAD : life on the blue ridge in the Day Trippin section for some gems.

    Independence VA - Grayson Highlands St park - AT crosses there, good camping w/o a lot of tourists. Among my favorite riding regions.

    Only real suggestion I have is do it. Great area.
    #2
  3. Canuman

    Canuman Crusty & Unobliging

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    There is absolutely no problem with paralleling the AT on pavement. In many cases, it's an effort to be near the trail and not be close to pavement. Tell us a start and finish and the suggestions will pour in.
    #3
  4. LandLeftBehind

    LandLeftBehind Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the suggestions so far.

    To clarify, Id like to start at the northern most point of shenandoah, lets say Front Royal, and work my way all the way down to Atlanta, Georgia (dont want to go there in particular, thats just where the AT ends).

    From there I would like to travel west, cutting through Louisiana, Texas...all the way to CA. Then Im going up north to Oregon, where Ill probably wwoof for some time (of course if I get that far :hmmmmm).
    #4
  5. LandLeftBehind

    LandLeftBehind Been here awhile

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    What would be really helpful is a detail map of the AT - one that includes roads (so I can see where the trail intersects)
    #5
  6. pnoman

    pnoman Just Average

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    May I suggest exploring West Virginia a bit, since you are so close?

    www.RidingWV.com might give you some ideas.

    Have a safe trip, wherever the road takes you.
    #6
  7. LandLeftBehind

    LandLeftBehind Been here awhile

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    One of my biggest challenges to planning this trip the way I envision it is going to be navigation. This is because standard road maps do not give detailed trail information, nor do standard GPS units (which describes what I have). I will need to plan my daily routes using a combination of standard road maps and smaller scale maps that include trail intersections and details.

    Taking advantage of free backcountry camping along national trails such as the AT is going to be so monumentally important to the sucess of this trip. I have the time, dont have the money :jose

    After doing a bit of research, I think I will be able to get away with using free park maps that they provide in Shenandoah at the ranger stations. As for the majority of the journey, I may need to invest in some Nat Geo trail maps. These maps are larger in scale than the typical AT maps, but still include important trail information. The AT maps are nice, and likely include more detail, but are designed as backpacking maps, and subsequently cover less area per map (and therefore would be very expensive).

    Not a hugely informative update, just want to keep this thread going :D

    Ill be back.
    #7
  8. pnoman

    pnoman Just Average

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    DeLorme Gazetteer - http://shop.delorme.com/OA_HTML/DELibeCCtpSctDspRte.jsp?section=10096 Don't leave home without it. :D
    #8
  9. bikerfish

    bikerfish flyfishandride

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  10. LandLeftBehind

    LandLeftBehind Been here awhile

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    Good to know! Yea I dont need to be on the trail as long as I can find other places to camp for free.
    #10
  11. mbabc

    mbabc Curmudgeon trainee

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    +1 on Grayson-Highlands though it will cost you $25 to camp. Saw plenty of folks camping in Mt. Rogers Rec. area. VA-16 was very fun, 'Back of the Dragon'.
    #11
  12. LandLeftBehind

    LandLeftBehind Been here awhile

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  13. kitesurfer

    kitesurfer Long timer

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    the beginning (or end) of the AT is at Amacola Falls state park. i've camped there and it's nice. south of there it flattens out and north it twist up. a free campground is off ga hwy 53 along the banks of the Amicacola river. there are pic nic tables and fire rings but no water of potty's. It's off amicacola church road. it is always police patrolled. i know the ga mountain area so if i can answer any questions....
    #13
  14. kraven

    kraven Hegelian Scum

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    Nearly the entire section of the AT from GA to Damascus VA is crisscrossed by small roads. You could burn your entire ride time just section hiking and riding around on the NC/TN border.
    The AT isn't just crossed by little gravel roads either. It crosses under I40 at one point, and it tramps right through towns like Hot Springs. And Hot Springs is a VERY motorcycle friendly little town with lots of everything you're looking for in this trip. You could make it your base of operations and stay in a hostel on the cheap. And there are plenty of hostels in the area with gravel road or paved access. Price is from about 20-30 bucks a day with kitchen access and laundry facilities.
    There's a hostel kind of in the middle of nowhere north of I40 that a lot of KLR guys use, and there's one right in Hot Springs as you come in from the South. There's also one in Erwin TN and one in Damascus. Those are the ones I know exist anyway. I've heard of others, but can't speak to their actual existence. I'm not a big hostel guy. Sorry.
    The 30+ mile trail section between I40 and Hot Springs is a good place to focus. Lots of neat sights like the FAA tower bald and Max Patch bald (both spots to which you can ride and park/hike), and other smaller attractions would be right up your alley for the Southern Appalachians. There are very close roads to the shelters on the AT as well. Nothing I've seen is so soupy that I wouldn't take a road bike. Pretty much any ST bike or 2wd pickup could go down them with ease. The hiking can be strenuous, since there's a lot of ascent and descent, but nothing more than a couple thousand feet at a time. So, if you're not in fair condition you'll be sucking wind. If you are, you'll be happy with the challenge and views.
    #14
  15. Sound Farm

    Sound Farm Art x Science

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    Blue Ridge Parkway is amazing !!! must do - :clap Boone Section is amazing ! go over the Viaduct, Grandfather Mountain Beautiful! stop at Linville Falls .WOW! . down to Mount Mitchell . highest point east of the Mississippi

    Also check out Tail of the Dragon down in Deals Gap, NC

    Smoky mountain National Park- cross the AT there too
    #15
  16. LandLeftBehind

    LandLeftBehind Been here awhile

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    Thanks to everyones advice I have changed my strategy to stay at primitive campsites in VA rather than along the AT. I think it will be preferable as I a) wont be leaving my motorcycle alone and b) will have access to potable water.

    Here is my VA route for your viewing pleasure (alternatives are grouped together, groups seperated by hyphen):

    #place (price, water accommadation, toilet accommadation, extra goody)/ nearest town

    Wolf Gap Rec. Area (free, water, vault)/ Woodstock
    Hawk Campground (free, water, vault)/ Wardensville
    -
    Hone Quarry (5, no water, vault, near quarry)/ Briery Branch, VA
    North River (5, no water, vault, near river)/ West Augusta, VA
    -
    The Pines (free, water, vault, near trout stream)/ New Castle<?xml:namespace prefix = o /><o:p></o:p>[/FONT][/COLOR]
    Steel Bridge (free, no water, pit, trout stream)/ Paint Bank, VA
    -
    *more north than Walnut* White Rocks (4, water, flush)/Pearisburg, VA
    Walnut Flats (free, water, vault, trout stream)/ Bland
    -
    Comers Rock (5, water, vault, mountain top)/ Speedwell, VA

    This should take me right into the next national forest. Due to the higher costs of campgrounds in TN/NC Ill probably need to use the AT more. Ill let you guys know about that when I work it out.
    #16
  17. LandLeftBehind

    LandLeftBehind Been here awhile

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    Apparently access to national forests is free! I was considering buying an America the Beautiful Pass until I found out this tidbit of easily-overlooked information.

    Now I may just steer clear of National Parks (which do charge for access). This appears like it will be easy to do.

    Plus I have a hook-up for the grand-canyon :evil
    #17
  18. FAW3

    FAW3 Old wanderer

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    Here is some detailed local info...may be useful:

    Staying in a National Forest is normally free...the campgrounds are often low fee ($10.00-15.00) a night in my area and offer typically an improved site, fire ring, some type of toilet, and some offer water on site. Often what I do is camp "just off the road" ...for example:

    Check this map on Google: https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msa=0&msid=204118369588151723241.0004c15a8144c7f9289ea

    As you head south from Front Royal, VA...go a bit West on Rt55 at Front Royal and take Fort Valley Road (RT673) South. A nice two lane light traffic roadway with scenic views. As you get near the marker for Chrisman Hollow Road...road changes name to Camp Roosevlet....choices here for free or fee camping. Check the George Washington National Forest website for details.

    After camping...follow Fort Valley Road again South...over to Route 211 at Luray, VA....and continue your wanderings. The Town of Luray has any shopping/eating needs you might have.

    Have a good trip!
    #18
  19. LandLeftBehind

    LandLeftBehind Been here awhile

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  20. Yankee Dog

    Yankee Dog Long timer

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    i wouldnt bother with the National Geo maps. They are mostly useful to folks searching out gravel and such. I would get a set of AAA or other state highway maps. Use these for your gross planning. Then break out the GPS or somesuch for your detailed planning. Beware of Google maps. At least in the Smoky mountain area they are very unreliable. I use Mapquest in these areas if I need to.
    #20