Pisgah National Forest 3 Day Dual Sport Ride, WR250R and KLX250, RT80, BRP, Max Patch *Video*

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by Luckster, Jul 6, 2020.

  1. Luckster

    Luckster Adventurer

    Mar 10, 2017
    Charlotte, NC, USA
    Hey Folks, long time lurker first time poster. I don’t know how many of these I’ve intended to do and never done, but I know the first Ride Report I never finished was for March Moto Madness back in 2016, so it’s been a while.


    LKN250S and myself went for a nice three-day dual sport cruise in the Pisgah National Forest and I figured I would share it. This will be in three parts for each of the days.

    First the bikes: I’m on a 2013 WR250R and LKN250S is on a 09 KLX250. We’ve done a lot of day trips together, but this was our first moto only overnight trip. I’ve traditionally hammock camped but decided to get a tent for this one since we wanted to say on top of Max Patch which is a bald and doesn’t have any trees. Greyson had never moto camped before so he had to come up with a system that would work for him (we had car/trailer/moto camped in the past but packing for a Yukon trunk is different than a rear passenger sear).

    For route planning on used Google Maps and saved way points (mostly gas stations, these 2 gallon tanks aren't great for long trips). I made a route for each day and sent them separately to both of our phones. This actually worked pretty well. We had service enough on each day to get the routes started, and where we didn't I had the routes pretty well memorized so it wasn't a problem. A propper GPS would have been nice but I blew all my budget getting my new tent setup so had to make do with what we had. Below is the day 1 route.


    Here is a pic of how the loadouts ended up looking at the start of the trip.


    Friday 6/5 we blasted out of work early and left Denver, NC around 2pm. Took back-roads to Marion, NC where we got some dinner (Burrito Bros, delicious). After that we rode up Route 80 (AKA The Devils Whip) which was a hoot, complete with the fabled dirt and stone washouts that can be expected around seemingly benign corners.

    From there we hopped on the Blue Ridge Parkway despite a little altitude sickness on the part of the KLX and made our way to Curtis Creek Road and settled in to one of the free dispersed campsites for the night. I tried out a bear-bag hanging kit I had made which worked mostly good (used paracord for rope which was a smidge too sticky), and we had an enjoyable evening making a fire and eating SNACKS. There was no need to use the bear spray all night so that's a camping win for me!


    Along the whole ride I was practicing with my new GoPro Hero 8 that I had picked up, I made a little video showing day 1 which is linked below. LKN250S and myself both have a Moto Cover company so excuse the branding, but I didn’t feel like redoing one without it just for this post. If it is too much according to the post rules, I can pull the vid out and my apologies in advance.

    Also, since I’m a gear nerd here is my pack list for the trip!

    Moto Trip Two Nights Expecting Rain and Cold

    Outdoor Product Dry Bag Large
    Outdoor Product Dry Bag Small
    Tie Down Straps x3
    Teton Sports Backpack

    Marmot Bolt 2p UL Tent
    Marmot Bolt Groundcloth
    Hammock Tarp + Pegs

    Sleep System:
    Nemo Tensor Sleeping Pad
    Marmot Hydrogen Sleeping Bag
    Marmot Inflatable Pillow

    Med Kit
    Ibuprofen, Blister Kit, Band aids, Neosporin, Duct Tape, Chapstick
    Classic Swiss Army Knife and Spyderco Delica 4
    Brunton Compass
    Paper Map
    Digital Map
    House Key

    Baby Wipes x4, Mini Deoderant, Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Floss
    Lens Cleaning Wipe
    Small Shovel The Deuce #2
    Toilet Paper
    Bug Spray
    Hand Sanitizer

    Cell phone
    Battery Backup charger x2 and cable
    Spare AAA batteries for the headlight
    GoPro Hero 8, 4 batteries
    Battery Charger, Gopro mounts
    Helmet Mount flashlight and mount
    Gopro helmet mount
    Lens cleaning cloth
    Mini Tripod
    Mini Lights

    Packed Extras:
    Reef Sandals
    Camping Chair
    Fire Starter Logs and mini bic
    Bear Spray
    Citronella Candle

    1.5L and 1L Smart Water Bottles
    6x Cliff bars
    Sawyer Mini Water Filter
    Water Filter Squeeze Bag 32oz x2
    Sawyer Straw
    Jetboil Flash Camping Stove
    Mini Bic
    Camping Stove Fuel Bottle x2
    Freeze Dried Meal for dinner and breakfast x2
    TOAKS Titanium Spoon w/Polished Bowl
    Coffee Powder x2
    Small Towel
    Paper Towel
    Water (1L=33.8oz)
    Protein Powder in baggie
    Paracord for Bear Bag
    Coffee Cup
    Ziploc Gallon Bag for trash

    Clothing (Wear):
    Prescription Sunglasses
    Marmot Synthetic Shirt
    Marmot Synthetic Underwear
    Marmot Synthetic Shorts
    Wool Socks

    Clothing Packed:
    Marmot Featherless Jacket
    Synthetic underwear x2
    Synthetic short sleeve shirt
    Wool socks x2
    Synthetic Long Sleeve Shirt
    Sweat Pants (Sleeping)
    Nike Shorts

    2013 WR250R
    Precip Moto Adventure Rally Cover
    Wolfman Tank Bag w/tools and spare tube
    Rotopax 1 gallon tank
    luftkoph and Suncoaster like this.
  2. Luckster

    Luckster Adventurer

    Mar 10, 2017
    Charlotte, NC, USA
    Day 2:

    Route planning for Day 2 had been a pretty active affair up to the day we left. I wanted to hit Mt. Mitchell, Cataloochee and Max Patch while riding as much dirt as possible. It looked like the actual Cataloochee park was closed but the 30 miles of dirt road that ran by it appeared open. I had ridden those before and was looking forward to doing it on a dual sport as last time on a Vstrom was ok but not exactly domination over the terrain (almost left my bike in the woods exploring a side trail). A call to the Ranger District for Max Patch yielded information that the main access road I had hoped to use to get quickly to the mountain had experienced a landslide and it was expected to take months to get it cleared and access restored. The only way around was an hour long detour through Tennessee and then down through Hot Springs. All things considered though, we ended with a solid looking route that was going to be a hoot.

    Day 2 Route.JPG

    After getting a pretty good nights sleep we woke up and used a Jetboil to warm up water for coffee and oatmeal/mountain house meals. We tore down camp and reloaded everything on the bikes and set out. Next destination was Mt. Mitchell, the highest mountain east of the Mississippi. We made it to the entrance way of the park and started the final ascent shrouded in morning fog. About ¾ of the way up I noticed that LKN250S was no longer in the rearview. I waited and eventually he putted up. The KLX jetting was not a fan of the sparse oxygen environment, and we crawled upward wheezing into the parking lot. A short hike to the top rewarded us with a beautiful view of the surrounding 25 feet as we were totally socked in with fog. On the way down the clouds broke through a portion of trees and gave a bit more ocular range but overall it was definitely a close inspection of the summit.


    The way down was a lot easier as the KLX had both gravity and gasoline helping out, and by the time we were back to the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) we were rolling at full speed again. We stopped where the BRP dumped into Asheville and grabbed a quick bite at Mama’s and Beer before picking up the BRP again. Some scenic riding outside Asheville ended at the last gas station before we were due to hit dirt roads long enough to tickle our extra Rotopax tanks.

    Making our way towards Cataloochee on a road with no other connectors LKN250S noticed a sign stating that a certain road was closed. “That’s not our road, right?” He asked. “No”, I confidently replied. When we reached the road closure that blocked our way, I was surprised, and I think Greyson was a bit disappointed in me for some unknown reason. Overall, my technique of confidently projecting optimism yields to many good results, but apparently the National Park System had not been aware of my expectations. So anyway the 30 miles of dirt road leading to and around Cataloochee were also closed, not just the main park as I thought. Fortunately the road was closed past the famous Bigfoot Statue so that bucket list item was checked off.


    We rode back and mounted Highway 40 and cruised at a leisurely 55 (also conveniently the speed limit) along arguably one of the prettiest sections of that road apart from the Cumberland Mountain crossing between Knoxville and Nashville.

    After meeting up with our original route we cruised some pretty Tennessee backroads till we dropped into Hotsprings, NC. If you haven’t been to Hotsprings, the important thing to know is that there are not actually hotsprings you can access. That basically sums up the level of expectation you should have as far as marketing vs reality on a whole. We pumped up our tanks at the only gas station and bought two bundles of firewood that we each attempted to merge onto our rear seat areas. Let us say that this resulted in only a temporary arrangement between man, machine and wood.


    Continuing along the beautiful backroads we eventually found ourselves again on dirt as we approached the Max Patch access point. It was almost immediately that LKN250S’s wood rebelled and try to rejoin its brethren in the forest. After getting its compliance once again, we continued until my bundle also attempted an escape.

    Once we passed Max Patch we hid the logs off the road and set out to do some actual dual sporting. There are a host of unpaved roads in the area and many smaller forest service paths that are only suitable to foot or motorcycle. After about a half hour of play we learned two things. The landslide of reported biblical proportions had been cleaned up already and would have been easily by-passable anyway by a separate road that went around it. And LKN250S noticed he was missing his personal phone. We retraced our steps but never found it. It was written off as a donation to the Pisgah National Forest, and at least was in tough shape already so the loss was not too painful.

    At the base of the mountain we unpacked the bikes and set ourselves for the 0.8mile hike to the top.


    I do a lot of moving around for fun: running, biking, chasing toddlers, etc., but that walk up in full gear carrying everything on the bikes was a character-building experience for sure. But we made it and we were happy to join the throngs that had decided that the gorgeous weather and recent reopening of this landmark site after months of Covid prohibition made this day perfect for a night under the stars.

    With camp setup and dinner warming in vacuum sealed pouches, we watched the sunset with our fellow travelers and enjoyed the lush grass and pleasant breeze. Attempts to get a fire going were thwarted by the wood we had so painstakingly procured and defended. It was still wet and thoroughly resisted our attempts at lighting it, so we ultimately just snuck side glances at other campers crackling fires before turning in for the night.


    And in case any one is wondering, the procedure for “bathrooms” is to go off the back edge of the steep side of the mountain at night, and to scamper down to the treeline in the daytime.

    Day 3 in the next post!

    Attached Files:

    Cigar and KYwoodsrider like this.
  3. Luckster

    Luckster Adventurer

    Mar 10, 2017
    Charlotte, NC, USA
    Day 3:

    Day 3’s primary goal was to get back to Denver, NC without hitting the highway and around lunch time. Route planning as a result was pretty straightforward. Set the start and end and toggle on “avoid highways”. I made sure we had gas stations plugged in for the middle and that was that.

    Day3 Route.JPG

    Waking up on Max Patch was great. We made some coffee and breakfast using the jetboil again, and then took down camp. I’m a bit of an over-analyzer so I definitely took my time breaking everything down and packing as my brain searched for the best way to Tetris everything together again, so LKN250S got to practice his patience waiting for me.


    The walk down the hill was a heck of a lot easier than the walk up it, that’s for sure!


    After repacking the bikes, we took off into the hills of North Carolina and were rewarded with gorgeous backroad views. With the sun rising, dew on the fields, and curvy roads it was a spiritual Sunday morning experience for sure.

    Good Riding2.JPG
    Good Riding3.JPG

    The cruise home was mostly uneventful except for an extremely fast dog trying to take out LKN250S at one point, but apart from that it was just good riding.

    Dog Walking.JPG

    The only other pleasant surprise was when we enjoyed a bit of classic southern hospitality at a little gas station we stopped at. The place was smelling delicious so we asked if we get burgers, but turns out the grill was closed and the owner had just tried cooking a burger for her kids by putting it through the pizza oven to see if she could save some time. Despite being closed, she invited us to stay for the family Sunday potluck that was about to go down. We politely declined, but as we sat in the convenience store refillig our camelbacks half the town seemed to arrive and the place turned festive quick. We weren’t able to slip out before the owner’s mother (who had arrived after we did) forced us to eat some of the most delicious apple cake we had every tasted.


    We made it back home for lunch, and have been dreaming about hitting the road and that apple cake since!

    So, what do you all think? Anything we missed in the Pisgah National forest that we should get back to next time?

    Attached Files:

    Cigar, AZ Mark, svtride and 1 other person like this.
  4. PineyMountainRacing

    PineyMountainRacing Oops....

    Jul 2, 2008
    Sarasota, FL / Sylva, NC
    Looks like a nice ride, thanks for posting it up. I’ve been up on MP dozens of time, I didn’t realize people camped up on top. Bet it was awesome.
  5. Luckster

    Luckster Adventurer

    Mar 10, 2017
    Charlotte, NC, USA
    I've been there a few times before too but this was the first time staying overnight. It seems to good to be true that camping is allowed but it is! There is a lot of misinformation online about it (articles saying its not) but according to the rangers I called and the national forest website that area unreserved dispersed camping is A-OK. The rangers commented that they don't have control over all the websites with wrong information and are not sure how that rumor got started.

    Its definitely quite an experience being up there! It was pretty busy and reasonably loud till late at night with people staying up around their fires, but I bet on a weekday its almost empty.
  6. PineyMountainRacing

    PineyMountainRacing Oops....

    Jul 2, 2008
    Sarasota, FL / Sylva, NC
    all the times I’ve been up there I don’t remember seeing any evidence of camping or campfires. I’d like to stay up there some night - pretty cool
  7. ncrambler

    ncrambler Going along to get along is conformity Supporter

    Nov 23, 2019
    North Carolina
    Cool write up, pretty neat for me to see someone coming thru my home town. If your ever up this way again, and are looking to camp here, at 3:25 in vid there is a road that turns rh (Little Buck Creek Rd). This will take you around the back side of Lake Tahoma, the road will turn left a little ways in. This will put you on national forest land. The road is several miles long, dead end though. But, really nice back there and following little buck creek all the way up. Several dispersed camping sites up there. Ride safe.
  8. Luckster

    Luckster Adventurer

    Mar 10, 2017
    Charlotte, NC, USA
    That's an awesome bit of info! Will definitely keep that in mind next time I head that way!