THE DIAMONDBACK LOOP - AUGUST 2010
Our first trip to another great ride

Sunrise over Little Switzerland
Sunrise over Little Switzerland

THE DIAMONDBACK
Little Switzerland, North Carolina

Little Switzerland
Switzerland Inn
Diamondback Lodge

The Diamondback is located in the area of Little Switzerland and the Blue Ridge Parkway about 50 miles north of Asheville, North Carolina. This 38 mile diamond shaped loop includes NC 226A, US 221, Toms Creek Road, NC 80 and the Blue Ridge Parkway. This is a great loop for motorcycles and sportscars.

On Sunday night August 29, 2010, we stayed at the hundred-year-old Switzerland Inn located just a few hundred feet off the Parkway. This motorcycle friendly inn offers a variety of accommodations including cottages with two bedrooms, A-frames with sleeping loft, large inn rooms, smaller inn rooms and the new economical Diamondback Lodge with eight small bedrooms each with private baths. The Diamondback also has a common lobby and covered parking for motorcycles.

Nightly rates range from $69 in the Diamondback to $200 for a cottage. Rooms in the Main Lodge range from $110 to $170.
We had a second floor Main Lodge room with a beautiful view of the pool/hot tub area and the distant mountains. The room was clean and comfortable. After a dip in the hot tub we had a relaxing dinner in the open air Terrace Bar. The food and service was excellent.

226A Sign
GPS on 226A

This is a good place to stop and eat even if you aren't staying at the Inn. The owner/manager is a motorcycle rider himself and welcomes all.

Monday morning after a hearty breakfast of eggs, grits, biscuit and country ham, we headed out to explore the Diamondback Loop. It begins right at the Inn as NC 226A descends from 3475 feet elevation at Little Switzerland to 1390 at US 221.

These 11 miles are packed with great twisties. The first 5 miles are the steepest and tightest. Make sure you have good brakes and use your gearing on this downhill ride. There are no guard rails and the drop-offs are steep and deep with only the forest to stop you in many places. This is no place to ride fast or alone.

The pavement is good. There were a few turns with gravel and dust from driveways, but not more than you should expect anywhere. There are a few homes and other structures, so watch out for locals pulling in or out. We encountered no traffic on our run. There are no difficult switchbacks, but some curves came close. We had no trouble on the FJR riding two-up and fully loaded.

221 South
80 North
Blue Ridge Parkway
Diamondback skeleton

The four miles of US 221 south is a 4-lane that will get you to the next good section of the loop. There is one fuel stop before the turn-off to the right onto Toms Creek Road. The next station is a few miles farther south on 221.

Two miles on Toms Creek Road brings you to NC 80, also known as Buck Creek Road. From here, at an elevation of 1300 feet, NC 80 climbs ten-miles back up to the spine of the Blue Ridge Parkway at 3350 feet.

The roadway offers glimpses of Lake Tahoma and the haunted dam on the right. Here a unique stone building called the Casino seemingly floats on the lake. The Casino is not a gambling place, but a private recreational building used for weddings and parties by area homeowners.

NC 80 follows the winding path of Buck Creek. There are some good twisties in the lower section, but there are also residences, trailer parks and camping on both sides. Not a good place to speed. The speed limit here is 45.

Seven miles up the road takes an abrupt left turn at Singecat
Branch and there are no more residences. These last three miles to the BRP get steeper and twistier. Unlike 226A there are guard rails everywhere. These might keep you from going off the mountain, but they can do serious damage to a body. Pavement is good.

There is a serious switchback just before the BRP. It’s every bit as good as the ones on the Devils Triangle. Be ready for this one and remember to use brake, clutch and throttle to control your bike on the steep uphill, 180 degree turn.

The final leg of the Diamondback Loop is northbound ten miles on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Returning to the Switzerland Inn we enjoyed a lunch before heading home on the BRP.

SUMMARY:

Total length of Loop – 38 miles
Travel time – about an hour and change
Fun Factor - 8 out of 10
Hazards - Steep drop-offs, metal guardrailings
Traffic - Minimal
Road conditions - Good
Accommodations - Good at Switzerland Inn
Food - Good at Switzerland Inn





More Info on Diamondback motorcycle & sportcar route

Switchback riders
A couple of riders in the big switchback.

Switchback
Riders in the switchback.


NC80 intersecting the BRP at upper left. Major switchback is lower left. Photo from Google Earth.
Switzerland Inn
Ready to run the Diamondback Loop

226A
The twisties begin as soon as you leave town.


226A
Big sweeper on 226A
226A
Left and right on 226A
226A
We love these warning signs .... say duhhhhh
226A
This photo shows you why to ride with someone else. Much of 226A has steep, wooded drop-offs like this.
226A
Note the absence of guradrail in all of these 226A photos.
The Casino
The Casino on Lake Tahoma of 80 North
80
Big sweeper on 80 North. Note the ever present guardrail
80 North
Some good twisties here on 80 North
80 North
Twisties coming on the GPS
Truck
A close encounter. Watch out for vehicles over the yellow.

Switzerland Inn
The Switzerland Inn. The open air Terrace Bar is on the right.

Switchback on 80 North
The nasty switchback on 80 North near the BRP.

View from the BRP

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