The Appalachian Mountains are a rugged mountain range that stretches from Maine all the way down to Georgia. This region was known as America’s first frontier during colonial times due to the rugged terrain, dense forests, and large number of rivers. As America developed and pushed further west the Appalachian Mountains were seen as nothing more than a speed bump towards progress. Over the years, the mountain chain has still kept its mysterious quiet frontier like mannerisms and while it has developed, it is still a wilderness that can barely be tamed in some parts. It is this mysterious frontier nature that made the mountains so intriguing for me to plan an adventure ride to this summer.
In early May I linked up with a group of Charleston based dual sport and adventure riders outside of Clayton, Georgia for a weekend of riding in the southern Appalachian Mountain’s. This was a small event hosted by Champion BMW/Ducati/ Honda from Charleston and helped riders from the coast experience mountain riding, some for the first time. For this trip I was riding my 2020 Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro while my riding buddy Alex rode his 2019 KTM 1290 Adventure. Of the group of 15 riders, Alex and I were the only two that rode our bikes up from Charleston and despite it being a 300-mile trip we did get creative on our trip up to Clayton. We decided to stick to back roads most of the ride up with some unpaved portions of the South Carolina Adventure Route to break up the monotony of pavement riding. On the way up we spent some time riding through Sumter National Forest in the western part of South Carolina before heading into the foot hills and mountains.
Over the weekend we rode a mix of paved and unpaved roads through the Nantahala National Forest that took us through all sorts of terrain. The route that we rode on is known as the SCAR to TAT connector. This is a 170 mile route that connects the South Carolina Adventure Route to the Trans America Trail. We traversed old rail road bed’s, forest service roads, and some curvy paved roads which took us to breathtaking mountain overlooks and to a few waterfalls. One of the interesting parts on this route was when we traversed the Eastern Continental Divide outside of Franklin, North Carolina.
Riding in the southern Appalachian’s through North Carolina and Georgia was a nice change from the riding that I normally do on the coast. Instead of riding through swamps and on sandy island roads it was nice to ride on dirt and gravel roads under forested canopies alongside ridgelines and mountains. For the most part none of the routes that we rode that weekend were technical or difficult with the exception of a short section of rocky outcrops in the Blue Valley Experimental Forest near Scaly Mountain, North Carolina. For the most part, 70 percent of our riding that weekend was off pavement and parts that were paved were tight windy mountain roads such as NC 28 also known as the Moonshiners 28.
Overall, the southern Appalachian’s were a great getaway and one that I highly recommend to adventure and dual sport riders on the East Coast. While the elevation is minimal compared to riding in Colorado and Utah the Appalachian Mountains have a unique feel to them. Even the pavement riding is great and I understand why so many people from cruisers to sport bike riders flock to this region every summer to ride. Wrapping up I’d like to thank Kenny Rodriguez from Champion BMW/Ducati/Honda and Dan Boles from Boles Law Firm for setting up this small adventure riding event. It was a great opportunity for riders from Charleston to experience riding in the Appalachian Mountains. After a great weekend up there, I definitely look forward to returning in the future possibly again this fall.