Monday, April 8, 2013

Wiggly Roads Nearby

Well, I'd just finished doing my taxes, so I went out for a ride Saturday.  I needed something to get my mind off of other people spending my heard-earned money!

Some of the motorcycle forum posters have been posting of late about a couple of roads in the nearby mountains, so I decided to renew my acquaintance with a few of these roads.

I start out in temperatures in the mid-30s, from home in Easley South Carolina, and go over to Pickens via. a nice but featureless road.  I pick up US-178 in Pickens, and the curves start in.  First some sweepers, that include a perfect curve.  A few of the sweepers are back to back the closer you get to SC-11 near the Holly Springs Country Store, a place where bikers of all shapes and sizes stop to link up for rides in the area.  It is also a place to gas up and grab a breakfast or snack.  I reach the store there are no others there, so I move along, across SC-11, and get to the curvier section of this highway.

 This is a favorite section for maniacal and not so maniacal bikers ranging from bicycles, to scooters and giant cruisers.  The road surface is in pretty good shape -- and clean today, but watch the advisory signs, as there are a couple of tight bends -- for me down to 2nd or 3rd gear.  The road straightens out about half way to the North Carolina state line, but tightens up again further north. 

Lets look at the map. 

View a larger map of these wiggly roads
We've been talking about the sections between Pickens at the bottom, and Pushpin B near the top. 

Click the link to see a larger version of the map, and move around by holding down your mouse button.  Zoom in by selecting the + box.

Just after Pushpin B, lies Rosman North Carolina.  You can get gas there to continue your journey if you need it. You can continue north on NC-215 and reach the Blue Ridge Parkway (as we did on this ride) and beyond.  

Today, I seek out a gentle road I have not been on for a while.  I make my way on it over to Pushpin D, at US-276.  If you follow 276 toward the south, you pass Dupont Forest and Caesars Head before descending the Blue Ridge Escarpment.  If you go north, you find some almost straight roads to Brevard North Carolina, then some nice twists and turns and great scenery further north, to the Blue Ridge Parkway, passing Looking Glass Falls and the Cradle of Forestry on the way. 

Be certain to keep your eyes peeled at Pushpin C.  Watch especially for some wildlife advisory signs on the north side of the road.  I don't think you will ever have seen such signs anywhere else. 

Also, watch for two very tight right handers just before Pushpin D.  Neither is marked. 

Just a mile down US-276, stop at Pushpin E, Connestee Falls.  There is a small parking lot and a picnic table.

A two minute walkway lads to an overlook where you can see two falls converging from almost right below your feet and from across the valley.  On the map:

View Larger Map



I eat a snack and drink some water here.  After another mile and half, I turn onto East Fork Road, at Pushpin F.  Except for a few tight bends, this is mostly sweepers, and the road surface is a nice, mostly uniform color and surface texture.  ...and there are not very many driveways along here.  Watch for some part-lane patching, though there are no major edge traps. 

The tightest turns come at Big Hill, marked at an advisory 10 MPH.  Of course, you can go faster than that on the bike.  Unfortunately I am coming down the hill, so it is not as much fun as going up.  I use a little of the downhill rear brake technique I learned a while back.  I helps you feel more in control, but don't forget that it works safely only when you are also applying power. 

Just below Big Hill are the bears and the yellow arthropod with a very hard exoskeleton. 

We will follow East Fork past the point where we will eventually turn sharply left onto Glady Fork Road to head toward home.  This stretch, toward Pushpin G, intersects with US-178 just below Rosman.  I travel there, then back to Glady Fork Road.  Be very careful along here, as the turns are tighter than on the previous part of the road, and there are several sharp 90-degree turns that are unmarked.  East Fork Road follows the East Fork (surprise!) of the French Broad River most of the way.  For a sedate change of pace, there is good fly fishing in this stream. 

I turn around and go back the other way on East Fork.  It is a different ride, but watch for the tight turns again.  This time, I bear right onto Glady Fork Road.  This has a good surface and not many driveways, too.  There is a series of small waterfalls on the left side along here. 

Soon enough, I reach the stop sign where the road to the highest point in South Carolina, Sassafras Mountain, is easily accessible.  I turn left and find the newly-paved road to the top.  There is no center line, so watch for slaloming cars coming the other way.

At the top, Pushpin H, I park and note that the new observation platform they erected in 2010 is gone, replaced by an ugly, expensive, out-of-place monstrosity.  This is the old new one: 

 This is the new new one. 

I'll bet your hard earned tax dollars went to tear out the old new one and put this in.  What a waste.  Oh, by the way, it isn't for handicap accessibility either.  The old new overlook was at ground level for smooth wheeling.  The new new one is about a foot off the ground at the start.  Convenient, eh? 

My just-finished tax returns flash to mind again.  Darn, I was just starting to get over that.  Why does our government do this to us?

I spend a few minutes looking at the scenery, then head back down.   Except for one hairpin, the road is pretty mild.

I turn left onto F. Van Clayton Highway and wend my way back to US-178 at Rocky Bottom, Pushpin I.  From there, I head back down the hill toward SC-11, and then to Pickens and home. 

I have only traveled about a hundred miles, but almost every mile was enjoyable. The temperature has warmed up to about seventy, and the sun has made God's creation scenic. 

Come along next time, and see these sights with me.

....and see if you can spot those interesting signs I mentioned.

Edit: find an update on Sassafras Mountain here.  



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