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Old 07-04-2013, 02:24 PM   #1
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54 Tennessee State Parks -- A Half Dozen

My company is closed the week of July 4. A fixed week of vacation time. I had dreams and plans about rides that more or less vaporized after winter. So the week comes and (for various reasons) I take the first three days to ride. At first I only had one objective and then there were two. Also, there were several TN State Parks I could work into the mix.

Frozen Head 36.125674,-84.503073
Cove Lake 36.308901,-84.211163
Norris Dam 36.239981,-84.108093
Big Ridge 36.24815,-83.918751
Panther Creek 36.207299,-83.401878
Indian Mountain 36.586794,-84.140431

MySpot


I did a lot of great riding but failed at both my objectives. On the other hand I visited two more parks than I originally planned.

So, on to the parks.
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aldntn screwed with this post 07-06-2013 at 05:46 PM
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Old 07-04-2013, 02:36 PM   #2
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Frozen Head State Park

I've visited this park a couple of times before on the way to what I call the Prison Road. I try to ride that road a few times a year, so this park is a natural for me to visit.



This area is not as high in elevation as the Smokies, but the park has the feel and smell of Smokies. It is a nice cool, refreshing area that offers camping and cool air in the hot summer.







However, on this day, paving closed off the upper end and I didn't have time to wait. The campground, hiking trails, and water falls are up there.



A CCC project: fascinating stuff to me.



On the way in, and out, you see the New Prison. 20' razor wire fences around the buildings and two 20' razor wire fences around the perimeter.

No nice guys in there..





A short distance away is the turn off for TN116 at Petros, home of the old prison. This is the prison that held James Earl Ray to his last day. As I remember it was known as a hard place for hard characters. James Earl Ray escaped once up into the mountains. He came out later hungry and defeated by the mountains.

Now, TN116 is a mountain road that serves the locals and the coal industry. It is narrow and curvy and prone to slide off the mountain from time to time. It often has debris in bad places, truck traffic that must take both lanes. I love this road because of what it is. It is not much of a squid road as any mistake is really bad. The local folk are hard working and proud. They drive their roads pretty fast so if you avoid being crazy and take care where there houses and mailboxes, the locals won't mind you. I will also say that the truck drivers are always considerate and look for a place to let you by. I always give them a wave of thanks. I followed a TDOT dump truck on the way up from the east side. It is instructive to see how its done. They have to swing wide into the other lane to make a hairpin and accelerate hard to keep momentum.



BRUSHY



The first turn and climb:



I walked the fence a while until I could get a view of the beautiful old building.



A coal truck bringing down a load:



A coal operation that seems to be shut down:



Not many places to stop and get a pic of the road. Visualize the coal truck coming around this curve.



This section of TN116 is still in Frozen Head.

Shortly hereafter is where I failed my first objective. I had intended to re-run a section of forest road that a friend of mine and I rode, he on his ST1100 and me on my CB1000C. It was quite an adventure and we saw the drunkest two people that I have ever seen. They should not have been concious. Their eyes were, according to the old country saying, like "two fried eggs in a slop bucket". They did give us good enough directions to make it through. It is about twenty miles of gravel between the "point" of TN116 and TN63.

My GPS led me astray and I was on gravel and then on a very narrow, rough, chip seal road. So I failed my objective, but I did drop right into Caryville, where I was headed anyway.

I intended to give it another shot on the way back, but it was raining buckets (after a night of raining buckets), so I decided it was enough of a challenge to cross TN116 in the deluge, much less trying a forest road of unknown qualities.
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Old 07-05-2013, 08:10 AM   #3
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Cove Lake State Park

So I dropped out of the mountain right into Caryville. Kind of a relief, really, you get a little uneasy when the GPS puts you on a road called "unnamed". Caryville is a nice scenic little town right at I75. The park is on the main drag, 25W.




It being the week of July 4 I did a drive around in the campground to see if anything I liked was available. I found a nice little spot up and away from the majority of folks in the tin boxes and decided this was central enough for the places I wanted to go. $20 a night. Not the cheapest place to drop a tent, but close to food and Dollar Store and WalMart.



It is a nice park, in a city, with fishing, hiking, swimming and such. A pleasant place to stay.

There are Canada geese everywhere:





Up to this point the weather was perfect. I headed out to Norris Dam and the weather soon changed.
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Old 07-05-2013, 09:09 AM   #4
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Looking forward to more.
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Old 07-06-2013, 05:55 PM   #5
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Big Ridge State Park

The weather had been great and I had a lot of the afternoon left, so off to another park. By the list, and by nearest, I should have gone to Norris Dam SP, but I was daydreaming and missed the turn. The next turn was to Big Ridge, so, why fight fate.



This is a nice, remote park...a good place to get away. Forest, lake, quiet, no crowds.









You can see by the last picture that the pitter patter of rain had started. Gearing up for the wet, I bid good-bye to Big Ridge. The fun road, 441, to the park would be fun even in the rain, but I got behind two very paranoid SUV drivers who crept along at a funeral pace.

I took a quick look at Norris Dam, but the rain made photos nearly impossible. So, I headed back to the tent to wait it out. A couple of hours later the rain broke and the sun came out. I decided to ride a little to dry the gear out. I headed north on 25W toward LaFollette. This little ride planted a seed that would sprout next day.

This spring I bought a new tent: a modestly priced Coleman. I bought it because reviews said it would keep you dry. Fortunately, the reviews were true because it has rained every time I have used it.

Rain over night, but tomorrow is another day.
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Old 07-07-2013, 01:27 PM   #6
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Yaint from around here are ya... hope you had a good ride. These are our usually stomping grounds. I've actually come out at that coal operation (Coal Creek OHV is behind there). Curious as to what seed was planted.
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Old 07-07-2013, 05:01 PM   #7
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Norris Dam State Park

At one point I had written off getting back to Norris Dam as the original time I had allotted for it was gone. But, after a good meal at the Diner in LaFollette and looking over the paper map, and when I got up early...it all added up to going back.



There are a lot of rules: Still haven't read 'em all.



It was still pretty early and foggy.



If you like deer, I encountered 5 (but didn't get a picture of any)



Like Big Ridge this a get away from it all park. There is an east section and a west section. Both are nice.

The dam itself:





Fog in the river below the dam:



Across the dam





Not a good pic, but you get the idea: If you really want to get away from everybody, camp out under a high volt tower.



Its still early and I should have plenty of time for the rest of today's plan.

And it hasn't rained (yet).
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Old 07-07-2013, 05:06 PM   #8
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Rutabaga, thanks for reading!

jlpred, no, ain't from around here, but I manage! That seed will sprout soon.
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Old 07-09-2013, 06:51 PM   #9
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Panther Creek State Park

The fog burned off, the roads died out and I'm off to Panther Creek. These are new roads to me. There is no straight line to Panther Creek; I take 441 down to 331 to 11W (bloody 11 as it was known before I-81). From there I angled north to 92 and then south to the park. Pretty nice roads...doesn't take much for me.




Panther Creek has nice features; fishing, shelters, natural area...





but what struck me was:













I wasn't sure I'd have enough time to get to Panther Creek, but I was glad I did.
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Old 07-10-2013, 06:28 PM   #10
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The Objective

Finally I get around to my primary objective:

Wasp TN: a remote little town that barely got established before da govment bought the land to make a forest.

I was close last year when I rode up to Max Patch. I was agonizingly close...no more than a couple of miles. BUT what used to be a road wasn't even a good deer track. Oh well, I did make one of my objectives then by crossing all the way over from NC109 to Del Rio TN.

So the plan was to take Wolf Creek Road from Hiway 70 up to Wasp.

Did I mention that it rained hard last night? Actually, it was really, really hard in some places. Once I got to Hwy 70, I noticed that the French Broad River was flowing faster and deeper than I'd ever seen it. Hmmm, I thought.

Now two miles from the turn off to Wolf Creek Road, hwy 70 was closed. The detour was quite nice, NC107 across to NC208... but it was an extra 50 miles or more.

But I persisted and arrived at Wolf Creek Road. By this time I'd had time to ponder all the water that was now flowing in the French Broad...It came from the mountains, flowed across forest service roads and ate them up. I was hopeful when I made the turn, but deep, water filled potholes mud and slop greeted me. I contemplated 10-15 miles of such...It wasn't all that much of a fire road at that, more like a track that used to be a fire road. I relented; there had to be something better than this, more like the road up to Max Patch but that would have to be determined at some future date. Today, I was toast. I turned the Wee and blasted out of there.

I did get to run NC209, a very fun road. It had a lot of rain debris in it and was wet in spots, but was fun nevertheless.

The only relevant pics. One of these days, Rev. Dot:



Looked the other way and saw this deer, no bigger than a small dog:



Now I decided to make some time and hopped on I-40 ... a fairly pleasant blast for an interstate. Course it began raining, so on with the gear. I bore down on Knoxville and blasted up I-75 to the campground.

There was still that seed.
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Old 07-12-2013, 04:30 PM   #11
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Indian Mountain State Park

So I blasted back toward my tent at Cove Lake. The rain had relented and I had pretty much dried out. Also, the sky cleared to a beautiful, comfortable afternoon.

And so the seed sprouted. When I was scouting out LaFollette, I knew I was on hwy 25. 25 east is to the northeast via TN 63 and passes through the Cumberland Gap. There multiple signs advising what can be transported through the tunnel.

Then, there was a little sign for 25W. It looked like an afterthought. By the latest official Tennessee map, 25W runs on I-75. This is the old road. I turned down this road and had time for a few miles. It was terrific fun. So there was the seed: If I had the time, I would run the old 25W to Jellico, TN and visit a totally unplanned Indian Mountain State Park.

So conditions came together, and I head north. 25W is a great road that follows a branch of the Cumberland River (whose waters will pass through Nashville) which wanders north. This is, of course, coal country, moonshine country, independent and resilient country. You can tell that this is not where the bigs live, it is the home of regular folk. I didn't get any pictures of the road as there aren't many spots to take pics. It is, however, a fun road. The sign warns of curves and rough surfaces, but overall, the road is in good shape. So I rode a road I wanted to ride. An objective accomplished.











This is a nice little park. It is pretty far away from most Tennesseans, so it functions like a local park. It lays out pretty flat, with a small lake in the middle. So where is the mountain? I guess it is near Indian Mountain, but it is, itself a reclaimed strip mine. That seems entirely appropriate. The coal was taken, and ultimately a park was left.



State Park visited; time to ride 25W again. I knew the road a little now and got pretty peppy. Fast, fun, local, enduring. My kind of road. Like the people:



Well, it was only three days. Old roads, new roads, places I'd been, places I hadn't. It rained a flood again over night and I had to pack up wet, even though it wasn't raining at the moment. I grabbed a McDonald's breakfast and headed home.

I took TN116 again with the faint hope of finishing that gravel track from the past, but shortly after I started out: torrents of rain. It is enough, I thought, to do TN116 in torrential rain. Another day for the gravel.

I also rode that terrible road TN85. As usual it has some surprises, but I managed to get home. 929 mi of a great ride.
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