"...I Hear Banjos..."

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by Rhode trip, Jul 1, 2014.

  1. Rhode trip

    Rhode trip guided by voices Supporter

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    'Great Riding' doesn't begin to describe it. At one point when we were headed to Tellico Plains the first day of riding, I stopped and said to Mrs Trip "this could be the BEST road I have ever ridden. That's right... EVER!"
    Tellico Wayne asked me if we rode the 'Gravelhala'. I think we may well have, but I am not sure of it. 'Gravelhala' makes me think of Valhalla...and, man, that's heaven up there!
    #21
  2. Rhode trip

    Rhode trip guided by voices Supporter

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    Well, Hiawassee is not quite as upscale boutique-y as Ellijay, so we just grabbed a Danish from the gas station out in front of the motel for breakfast. We were a few miles off the actual route, and we backtracked on some paved roads till we picked it up. I'd read that todays riding was the most challenging, so I was a little apprehensive about what we'd encounter...
    There was interesting dirt, a little steeper than we'd encountered before, and maybe a bit rockier. We came to the first water crossing of the day.
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    It was a little deep, with a sandy bottom. "I was reading about this area...the water crossing was described as 'intimidating, but not difficult'" I told Mrs Trip, "it's easy, just stay to the right!" We both plowed through.
    This difficult part is not bad at all!
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    Then it got a little more difficult...this part is steeper than it looks

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    Pretty gullied out... we picked our way down, whoops!

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    Slipped in a soft spot, and down I went. Camera went flying...an interesting side note is the cable that you can see near my back tire...several of these roads were signposted about fiber optic cables being buried there...I'm betting that's it.
    This part could be a handful on a bigger bike...at least with my limited skills

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    I spotted Lynn for a bit, but she slid right through, nice and easy:

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    That was Charlie's Creek Rd, which led us to the bank of the Tallulah River...gulp...I think this may be the water crossing he was talking about, and not the little one before. What a beautiful river...the day was clear and calm...a fine mist was rising from crystal clear water...you can't see, but a guy is fly fishing just upstream from the ford. We walked it first, and then I plowed in:

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    And then Lynn's turn:

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    Made it! Just a beautiful place, the water is amazing, clear and cool, you can see every rock. The Tallulah River was used in filming "Deliverance", further downstream in the Tallulah Gorge. I could hear faint echoes of banjo music in my helmet. Sue-wee...I was so happy I could have squealed like a pig! "Deliverance" was directed and the script co-written by John Boorman...Charlie Boorman's father...I wonder if old Charlie has ridden in these hills?

    Once out of the water, we followed the river on a paved road. After widening and flattening at the ford, the river plunged into rapids and pools as it tumbled down...there were even more fishermen all along the stream.
    And then, we were back out on a main road, and crossed out of Georgia:

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    We followed along, on pavement, until we turned in at the hydrologic research facility...I've forgotten the name...and then climbed up some steep switchbacks on a narrowing gravel road...higher and higher, until we reached the ridgetop. There was a hiking trailhead to a uniquely named feature.

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    Had to stop for a photo. And then down the other side on more twisty dirt roads.

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    We hit pavement again, along the shore of Lake Nahantala. We stopped in a lakeside restaurant for lunch, and then continued our ride

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    There was a great view and some wide, sweeping switchbacks as we followed tall electric towers down a green valley

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    Some more paved country road

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    You can just make out the cows grazing...are those Belted Westies?

    Some more gravel as we followed the Nahantala river for a while

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    And back on pavement...familiar roads this time...

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    And then, all too soon, we were back at the Ironhorse. I was sorry to see the ride come to an end. Our first time riding in the Smokies...it won't be the last. The riding there is beautiful. A lot of these roads, we'd wonder why they were there...they seem too good for logging, and I don't know that these mountains and valleys were ever very settled...but there they are, winding up and down, just for sheer enjoyment. I have no idea how far we rode, it could have been 500 miles...I'm not much for keeping track, but I know I enjoyed every minute of it.

    If I had to compare, The Smoky Mountain 500 most reminded me of Vermont's Puppy Dog Route. It was a little more challenging than that, but not hard at all. Curvier, and I think more dirt...I'd say Andy's estimate of 70% dirt is about right. He really deserves a round of applause for putting it out there :clap. We took a ride up to Vermont last weekend, which put the comparison in my mind. I'll add a link to some photos of New England...just for fun.

    http://advrider.com/forums/showpost.php?p=24639616&postcount=4715

    And thanks for reading. I hope you can get out and ride it!
    #22
  3. TheAdmiral

    TheAdmiral Long timer

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    Very nice ride that Smokey Mountain 500 is! Lots of great pictures. This one is just beautiful! 10+ on my scale!
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    When your photo's are taken while riding the dragon, are there photographers nearby or are they remote camera's? Just a thought I had as I've seen so many getting there picture's taken. Great travel adventure's you two have!:clap
    #23
  4. mikegc

    mikegc Long timer Super Supporter Supporter

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    There are commercial photographers, i.e., Killboy.com and 129.Slayer.com, who do a great job.

    Mike
    #24
  5. ToasterTech

    ToasterTech Working for the Man

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    Enjoyed your pictures and ride report. Never have ridden the loop you rode but have ridden many of the sections that you covered. East TN/ West NC/ North GA have many more great forest roads just like the ones you traveled, hundreds of miles worth, and very seldom do you encounter any traffic...even on the weekends!
    #25
  6. rick danger

    rick danger The further adventures of

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    I tried that Cades Cove road on a goldwing with my girlfriend. I wanted to get off it so bad I was waiting for parsons branch road as that was the only means of escape. It was closed ,but I went around the barrier and the road was in terrible shape. Trees down all over. Took a while clearing trees but we finally got through. My girl was in tears. But I never dropped it. it was still better than dealing with the never ending parade on cades cove. Well in my opinion anyway.
    #26
  7. Rhode trip

    Rhode trip guided by voices Supporter

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    Hi Admiral, I wondered that myself before I was there. There's actual photographers with big lensed cameras hanging around snapping photos. On the Tail of the Dragon and also on the Cherohala Skyway. They all have canopies set up identifying their websites so you can find your photos later. Its like being Princess Diana or something. :queenie
    #27
  8. Rhode trip

    Rhode trip guided by voices Supporter

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    Thanks, ToasterTech. I think you could get lost in that area for a long time. That would be a blast!




    Parson Branch Rd on a GoldWing...that's an Adventure Ride!!!
    #28
  9. CaptnSlo

    CaptnSlo Derelicte

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    Terrific RR! I need to make a return trip to check out the dirt down there.
    #29
  10. Rhode trip

    Rhode trip guided by voices Supporter

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    Thanks!
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  11. bomose

    bomose Long timer

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    Great report. I've ridden those roads many times. A friend had a house in Dalton,Ga. and Long Creek, SC.We would ride from one to the other exploring lots of side roads. Beautiful country. Thanks for posting.
    #31
  12. leben

    leben Adventurer

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    Awesome ride report. Thanks.
    #32
  13. Rhode trip

    Rhode trip guided by voices Supporter

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    Thanks, gentlemen!
    #33
  14. drdubb

    drdubb OFWG Supporter

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    Haven't seen this before...thanks for sharing.
    A TW and the 500 are both on my bucket list.
    #34
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  15. Rhode trip

    Rhode trip guided by voices Supporter

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    It was two years ago we rode this, but when I read today that Parson Branch Rd has been closed and may not be reopened it reminded me of a nice ride...[QUOTE="Rhode trip, post: 24522150, member: 94717"
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    #35
  16. drdubb

    drdubb OFWG Supporter

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    I'm hating that I didn't ride it when I had the chance.
    #36