North Georgia/NC Ruby Run
March 2, 2008
Nancy and I got the KLRs out of mothballs. The batteries were weak after several months of sitting in the garage, but they both finally started. The weather had been perfect for a couple of days so we figures we had better take advantage before the next cold front came our way.
We gassed-up at the Robbinsville Solo and headed south on US 129. There are a couple of miles of good sweepers before you get to US 74/19 at Topton. We sure wish the original road was still here. It would have made the Dragon look straight. You can see remnants of the roadway back in each cove hugging the mountainside.
We took US 74/19 south to Andrews and took Old US 19 through town to avoid the 4-lane. Andrews is a great example of what happens to a quaint country town when a bypass is created to speed motorists toward their final destination. The old downtown area is nearly dead …. and the locals don’t seem to know what to do to attract tourist that way.
After passing the many closed businesses we took a left on Fairview Road (NC SR 1515) and followed it out of town. Soon we were back on country roads with some good twisties. In about six miles we hit NC 141 and took a left heading south for Peachtree, nothing more than a crossroads with a school and small factory.
We took a left onto US 64 east and then a quick right on NC SR 1548 to Brasstown. Don’t blink or you’ll miss this “off the beaten path” crossroads. Continuing south the road turns into NC SR 1100 AKA Old US 64W. At Warne, another nothing crossroads, we turned right onto Young Harris Road (SR 1112 in NC and SR 66 in GA).
After crossing into Georgia we took a left onto SR 339 at Alexanders Mill. Here again we found a few good sweepers. At SR 17 we turned south and then turned back east onto US 76. We had to 4-lane a little while until we passed through Hiawassee. The hills here are plastered with mountain homes and Lake Chatuge is peppered with boats. Seeing such crowding makes us appreciate the Robbinsville area even more.
US 76 finally turns back into 2-lane and offers some good riding most of the 24 miles into Clayton. This section crosses the Appalachian Trail and used to have much better twisties before the state straightened the highway and made three lane passing zones. Little evidence is left of the original US 76. We saw a number of motorcycle groups along this route.
At Clayton we contined east through Warwoman Dell on Warwoman Road. Most of the 14 miles to SR 28 are nothing special, but the last two miles are nearly as good as the Dragon. Warwoman Road is supposedly named after Nancy Ward, a Cherokee woman who was married to a Cherokee Chief Kingfisher. In 1755 the Chief was killed in a battle near Ballground Georgia with the Creek Indians and 18 year-old Nancy is said to have picked-up his rifle and led the successful charge against the enemy. She became known as The Warwoman.
At SR 28 we stopped and Nancy hopped on the back of my bike for a rerun of the good section. She filmed as best she could from the two-up position on the KLR.
Back at SR 28 we saw a number of sportbike groups taking advantage of the unusually warm winter weather. We headed north on SR 28 passing back into North Carolina in a quick 5.5 miles. The road along here is very twisty, but the pavement in Georgia could use some improvement. Nothing bad, but when you hit the state line and see the new asphalt in North Carolina you can see and feel the difference. More great turns all the way into Highlands.
We have been wanting to try the Rib Shack in Highlands for several years, but we just don’t seem to be there at the right time to eat. Today we were running late and had to stay on the road. We did see another couple of motorcycle groups in the downtown area which was pleasantly uncrowded.
A few miles west of Highlands on US 64/SR28 we made a quick stop at Bridal Veil Falls. Barricades blocked riding under the falls because of ice on the roadway. Normally you can park under the spray for a unique photo op.
Continuing west on US 64/SR28 we had the most fun of the day as we zipped through the tight twisties and sheer cliffs along the Cullasaja River. This section is usually packed with traffic, but today we just about had it to ourselves. Great fun, but it is a little too dangerous to put a knee down. One side has railings and sheer drop offs while the other side has rock wall cliff just inches from the pavement.
Nearing Franklin US 64/SR28 becomes a rather straight boring road. We took a right onto US 441/23 north to bypass the town. About four miles later we took a left onto Sanderstown Road, a three-mile short cut over to SR 28.
SR 28 from Franklin to US 74/19 is one of our favorites, especially the last 6.5 miles. The speed limit is 55, traffic is usually minimal, and the twisties are tight. Watch-out for the road surface in places. There are some heaves in the pavement near the cliffs, particularly in the south bound direction. There are also residences and driveways in places so be careful. We have seen LEOs along here, but they can’t get you for speeding unless you got some real nerve, just reckless driving and passing on the double yellow.
At US 74/19 we took a left onto the 4-lane and then a right back onto SR 28. A word of warning !!!! The 4-lanes in western North Carolina are where the LEOs like to get you with radar. It is easy to get carried away on these roads that should be 70 mph or more, but they enforce the ridiculous 55 mph. Keep it 60 or under or feed the bears. They do not discriminate either, car, motorcycle, truck, or bicycle.
SR 28 used to be great, but the state ruined it when it was 4-laned. We held the throttles steady at 60 and motored back to Robbinsville. The one fun place here is going over the mountain on SR 143.
Our 200 mile ride in the middle of winter was just what we needed. Try some of these roads on you visit here.