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Old 07-22-2008, 07:59 PM   #16
HappyRiding
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Howdy neighbor!

I enjoyed your ride report. I think I might need to slow down a bit and notice what is outside of the white lines more often.

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Old 07-23-2008, 05:14 PM   #17
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Day #2

Allright, here we go. Class the words for the day are: Pavement Ends.





Got up this morning at about O' dark:30, saw the girlfriend as she went to her new job, bite to eat, and of course had to check ADVrider. Still hadn't figured out where to go. Wound up a person was asking questions about gravel roads in the area over in the Regional sections.

Gravel? What's that you say? Why yes, I happen to have acquired the knowledge of which you seek. But since I couldn't tell him any mileages I thought of no better excuse than to go ride the roads again. And so I did.

Coming down 19E out of Bluff City and after about 5 miles catch a left onto Holston Mountain Road. Stay on this road, eventually it'll turn into gravel, and gravel shall it remain for the next 28 miles. Except for a 2 mile stretch. Very odd, indeed.

So I'm jamming down the gravel road at ~30 mph on a 500 lbs. wannabe dirtbike with luggage, powersliding through the turns (riding dirtbikes for 19 years and having a dad that is an ex-harescramble/enduro racer helps), all the while skirting around the northern edge of the Iron Mountains. There was too much foliage to take a good picture but when the leaves are gone it rivals parts of the BRP. All of a sudden......




Bam!


WTF? Who lays down 2 miles of perfectly good blacktop 8 miles from the previous thing that could remotely be called pavement?

This is Big Creek Road and the Forestry Service is widening the road. I'd seen the road construction signs but let's face it, road construction out here meant Jim Bob and a chainsaw, or so I thought. Riding around a corner I see a backhoe heading the same way I am with a driver and passenger hanging off the side. I follow them for about a mile until the driver sees me in his mirror and turns around with a shocked expression on his face.





Clearly he's never seen a motorcycle, least that's what his facial expression said. Though he could pop a mean wheelie with that backhoe.

I pass and proceed to do my best to put about a mile between us just in case I want to stop and take pictures. Looking down the trail I see this:



Seeing as how there was a however-many ton backhoe headed his way I did the neighborly thing:



And continued upon my way...



Big Creek Road intersects with Flatwoods Road in a huge 4-way intersection. Every way takes you back to a highway of some kind. I turned right onto this and except for the odd pothole, my speed increased dramatically.



A few miles up the road and there's a triangle with a sign announcing the way to Little Creek Recreation area. Camping, RV dumpsites, the works are available here. The view was nice...




(Note: Those go from right to left. Don't have a stitch program on my Mac.)

Yet the day was but young.

Tearing down Flatwoods Road all of a sudden I catch the smell of water, as in river water. Sure enough I find this within about 20 yards.



Looking back the way I'd come.



Few more miles down the road and Oh look, another one.



Just about to the end of the road and find another turtle! He was pissed though.




Something about jumping his cousin last time I rode dirtbikes. Hey, least I managed to dodge him. He wasn't having any of it though and I placed him in the grass off the road.

Get back to the intersection of Camp Tom Howard Road (Flatwoods changed into this when it turned to pavement again) and 421, trying to decide where to go, and realize I've never been down Denton Valley Road before. Needless to say that was the direction I went. After about a mile or two the road splits and upon hanging a left I find the remains of an old road bed. Really strange, ran straight into the water, and was built using stackstone turned on end. Looked like a giant tower had fallen but everything remained in place. Oh yeah, and it was pretty.



Head back to Denton Valley Road, turn north, riding along at a nice OH YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME...



Aside: I've been riding up here for about 5 years now and have never seen a turtle in the road. Come to think of it I've got a degree in Biology and when my Ecology class went on hikes I never saw a turtle either. What are the odds of three turtles in an hour? But I digress...

Needless to say, he too was placed safely on the edge of the road.

Wound up at the sign in the first picture but not having researched it I decided to hold off for now. Plus I was hungry and the Shady Valley Country Store with their Shady Dogs was only a few miles of incredibly twisty tarmac away.

Warp Factor 6, Mr. Sulu.


Replenished with the aforementioned hot dogs I headed over into Mountain City. Turned onto 167 and rode it for about 10 or so miles. The valley I was in was incredible as it was full of corn fields and was probably about 1000 yards wide at the widest. Hit Lakeview Drive off 167, then Dry Hill Road, Buntontown Road, then finally 321. This took me around Watauga Lake and the road was empty, essentially tar and chip.



From 321 I went back to Little Stoney Creek in the first post and ran it all the way across to Walnut Ridge Road near Roan Mountain, 23 miles total. Over on the Roan Mountain side you began to see more and more landscape that was common to the area, namely...





I swear there are more Christmas tree farms in this area than anywhere in the world. You could throw an ornament from one farm to another and it'd never land in anything but pine.

Got to 19E, turned left to run up to the North Carolina border just to make sure they hadn't moved it on me (you never know about these things) then turned back and hooked a left on 143 towards Carver's Gap. This is where I took the group at the Eastern Rendezvous and while it was still May there weren't any leaves on the trees at that high of an elevation. There were plenty today.



(Panorama L to R)

I FOUND PACMAN! GO PACMAN GO!!!



Carver's Gap is at 5512' a.s.l. and the Appalachian Trail runs on top of it. I hiked to the top once. It sucked. Damn thin air. I can run an 8 minute mile at will but no, a mile and change of elevation wants me to do it with half the oxygen. Anyway, have some landscape pictures from last time.






Yeah, those tiny things in the parking lot are cars about 600 vertical feet below me. Find the red car, follow the guardrail to the right, and that black thing before you get to the next car is my bike.



This time I rode up the other side to the Rhododendron Gardens. Each fall this puppies bloom each fall and people go nuts over them. Wikipedia says the honey makes you hallucinate. That and the thin air probably makes people really, really happy.

It was about that time and the weather kept reminding me of it. I'd dodged it all day but now it was about to rain and I didn't feel like swimming home.

Beat the rain home, uploaded the pictures, ate dinner, and now you have Day #2's report.

Enjoy.


Miles ridden: ~200
Shady dogs eaten: 2
Turtles rescued: 3
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Old 07-23-2008, 05:34 PM   #18
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Next time Im up in the area for a weekend youll have to show me around some more
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Old 07-23-2008, 07:36 PM   #19
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Super pictures

I'm from Marion but live in Richmond and love all those areas. I can't wait to move back home!
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Old 07-23-2008, 07:42 PM   #20
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really beautiful

I love that part of the country. as sort of an off topic aside, you having a biology degree and access to all that water around there---ever see any/many cottonmouths or rattlesnakes as you tramp down to check out "the smell of water"?? I hate snakes and that alone woul dkeep me in the middle of the gravel road, and it looks plenty wild enough to have a lot of them living there.
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Old 07-23-2008, 07:47 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katoom119



This time I rode up the other side to the Rhododendron Gardens. Each fall this puppies bloom each fall and people go nuts over them. Wikipedia says the honey makes you hallucinate. That and the thin air probably makes people really, really happy.

It was about that time and the weather kept reminding me of it. I'd dodged it all day but now it was about to rain and I didn't feel like swimming home.

Beat the rain home, uploaded the pictures, ate dinner, and now you have Day #2's report.

Enjoy.


Miles ridden: ~200
Shady dogs eaten: 2
Turtles rescued: 3





great pictures, and a great area to ride in. be careful about guerrilla camping in rhodadendron gardens. the bears get curious
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Old 07-23-2008, 08:52 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wheedle
Next time Im up in the area for a weekend youll have to show me around some more
Sounds like a plan.

Quote:
Originally Posted by spaceman spiff
I love that part of the country. as sort of an off topic aside, you having a biology degree and access to all that water around there---ever see any/many cottonmouths or rattlesnakes as you tramp down to check out "the smell of water"?? I hate snakes and that alone woul dkeep me in the middle of the gravel road, and it looks plenty wild enough to have a lot of them living there.
It's really weird what you see sometimes. I haven't seen a live snake in who knows how long but a couple of dead ones on the road though means they're still here. Most of the places I go are trails and because of that there's not a lot of cover in the heat of the day. Around water you have to be a bit more careful but that's just like anywhere, really.

Quote:
Originally Posted by L1gunman
be careful about guerrilla camping in rhodadendron gardens. the bears get curious
The last two years there's been a sow with two cubs around Shady Valley. First time we saw them a cub was in the middle of the road as two of us come hauling ass on our motards. First thing I thought of was "Oh shit where's momma?" By the end of last year one cub would chase after us on our bikes, sort of like a dog chases cars.
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Old 07-24-2008, 07:35 PM   #23
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Great report. Gives me some ideas on where to ride next time I'm at my parents.
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Old 07-30-2008, 08:13 AM   #24
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"We're going to run our secret play. I call it the Annexation of Puerto Rico."

It'll make sense later.

The day dawned a gorgeous crimson red with splashes of deep purple and bright orange. Small furry woodland creatures began to rustle in their lairs at the start of another beautiful summer day. I, however, was asleep. Screw dawn, I was tired.

Rode I-26 down from Johnson City to Erwin, TN and went up Rock Creek Road (Hwy. 395). It was really early in the morning and where we've been having stupid amounts of humidity you could see the water vapor in wooded areas. This wasn't fog, per se, but the long lost cousin twice removed.



I tried to get some pictures from the top of Rock Creek but the foliage again proved the bane of my ambitions. Oh well, just trust that I say it's pretty. The intention was to go down and get pictures of Spivey Gap as well but I knew the trees would be just as thick down there. Spivey Gap is Hwy. 19W that runs over to Burnsville. You go up an incredibly twisty road, much tighter than Deal's Gap, and wind up running along side a river in a semi-river valley.

Instead, I rode down 352/81 out of Erwin and hooked right onto 352 a.k.a. Devil's Fork Road towards Hot Springs, NC.

North Carolina? This is an East TN report.

Oh yeah, I don't know if you've caught it on the BBC World Service yet but Tennessee recently annexed Hot Springs. There wasn't much of a fight or anything because Hot Springs is where people go when Asheville gets too uptight, and since Asheville is pretty much a hippie town (generally speaking), the annexation was met with little alarm.

Devil's Fork Road turns into Hwy. 212 when it crosses the state line and is probably one of the best kept secrets around. You're treated to views like this...




at the cost of having to dodge hundreds of these along side the road. Wasn't that bad really.



Once in Hot Springs there are several options. You can run Hwy. 25/70 to Newport, TN or branch off halfway onto 107 and connect back to Greeneville, TN. Or from the store you can cross the bridge, hang the first left onto River Road, and run up alongside the river. This is what I did. It's pavement for 4 miles or so before it turns to gravel for about 3. After this it's pavement again when you get to Paint Rock. Best I can tell it's just this giant rock alongside the river and the Native Americans used to use it as a meeting place.

French Broad River



Paint Rock



There is a small "trail" that goes to the top of Paint Rock. Being the old rock climber I am I figured I'd have a go. It wasn't exactly class 5 climbing but some energy was exerted.



In the end though the view was much better.



The next several photos are from Paint Creek Recreation Area that runs from Hot Springs up to Hwy. 70 via Lower Paint Creek Road and Rollins Chapel Road. It's a single lane road with turn outs every so often but during the week it's almost deserted. You follow the creek the entire way and there are swimming holes just about everywhere along with camp sites and facilities.









Riding up Hwy. 70 into Greeneville you cross over the Nolichucky River. This is one of the bigger rivers in the area and means "River of Death" or something in Cherokee because of the strong currents. Swimming is not advised. You get to see this though.



That's the most water I've ever seen rolling off that spillway.

Greeneville was the home of President Andrew Johnson and in the historic district (take 70 to 321 business) you can tour his home. It's also the location of Cannonball Church. Called Cumberland Presbyterian Church it was under fire during the Civil War and actually received damage.

Look to the right of the doorframe.



See it yet?



Uber close up.



Took backroads up to my old school, Tusculum College, before turning onto 107. Ran 107 all the way along the Nolichucky until it intersects with Hwy. 81. Followed 81 on into Jonesborough, site of the International Story Telling Festival (one of the 1000 places to see before you die US edition), Chester Inn, and a really cool historic district. No pictures along the highway because the humidity was so high there was a horrible haze but without question some of the best views are found along 107 and 351 (runs from 107 to 70 behind Greeneville).
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Old 07-30-2008, 08:46 AM   #25
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Awesome report. I grew up in bristol VA and drove alot of these road. Course I used to drive to a town called Mendota on the VA side and camp at the firetower there. That is one place I am wanting to return to and see if it is still standing :P
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Old 07-30-2008, 09:00 AM   #26
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Shame on you for leaving out Kingsport. This is a great idea - TN is so beautiful and green. I am getting my first bike soon and am looking forward to exploring some of the alternate routes from UT back to Kingsport, especially with all of the construction on I-40 right by the University

jwhite69 screwed with this post 07-30-2008 at 09:08 AM
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Old 07-30-2008, 09:10 AM   #27
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Fantastic report. I will book mark this.
I just moved to Watauga lake a year ago and have yet to explore the place, we will have to get up with each other.
The craziest thing iv seen was a chicken running down the middle of the 321 heading towards boone.
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Old 07-30-2008, 11:32 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by jwhite69
Shame on you for leaving out Kingsport. This is a great idea - TN is so beautiful and green. I am getting my first bike soon and am looking forward to exploring some of the alternate routes from UT back to Kingsport, especially with all of the construction on I-40 right by the University
Oh, I'm not done yet by any means. These are just the roads I know well. The goal is to cover all of East Tennessee. I don't have much of a problem getting to UT, I go that way to get back home to Crossville, but it gets old quickly.

Quote:
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he craziest thing iv seen was a chicken running down the middle of the 321 heading towards boone.
For some reason, that doesn't strike me as odd at all.
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Old 01-25-2012, 06:50 PM   #29
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This had the makings of a good thread. Where are the updates?

I live just a few miles from the NC/TN line. Found some great trails on Stone Mtn. near Locust Gap today. Part of the path was a stream for at least 1/4 mile. Talk about a "water crossing"! I can't wait to go back and explore some more.
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Old 01-25-2012, 06:55 PM   #30
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This had the makings of a good thread. Where are the updates?
Talk about resurrecting something from the beyond. I did a double take when I saw this back up on the first page.

Well lets see: from the last post I got another undergrad degree, got married, finished my Masters degree, then moved to Charlotte for law school. I've been thinking about this the last week or so. I may try to finish it this summer.
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