Western North Carolina
We recently took our KLRs over to Highlands to explore some more back roads. Our route took us by a number of waterfalls and deep into the North Carolina forests.
We left Franklin on US64 and turned left onto rural Buck Creek Road. The road is paved but not exactly well maintained. There were also sections with a lot of gravel on the roadway. This road takes you 4.5 miles easterly to Shookville, which we didn't see so it must not have been too big a place. The road then curves back to the south for a 6-mile stretch where it intersects US64 again.
Take a right on 64 to downtown Highlands and then turn left at the Main Street red light onto Horse Cove Road (SSR1603). After about a half mile you will encounter some of the most extreme twisties we have ever seen. The road literally falls off into the valley below Highlands. The road is paved for about 4.5 miles with some great views of the sheer cliff faces of Blackrock Mountain to the north. We took a right onto Bull Pen Road, a gravel road heading to the south. We found this road well maintained with the only problem being lose gravel.
After 3.4 miles you will come to the Chattooga River crossing. Sadly it's a bridge, but this is the place to take a break and explore the river on foot. Some might call this a waterfall as the water cascades down the rocks for as far as you can see. One place looked like a great slide, but the temperature was not warm enough for us to get wet. There was a couple sunbathing on a rock below us. Bring the camera and picnic to this picturesque place.
Continuing easterly 5.5 miles on Bull Pen Road (all gravel) brings you into Highway 107. Turn left and head north on the paved road for 5.5 miles. Turn left onto Whiteside Cove Road (1107) just 2 miles before Cashiers. If you are not too filthy at this point you might consider exploring the highbrow town of Cashiers and then returning here to finish the ride.
You are now heading back westerly toward Highlands on Whiteside Cove Road. You will be amazed as you pass both mansions and slums for the next 10 miles. There are some awesome cliff views of Whiteside Mountain here. The road is paved most of the way back, but there are a few miles of gravel before you get to Horse Cove Road.
Now you have to renegotiate the curves going uphill to Highlands. Don't stall out on these sharp switchbacks.
We stopped and had a great cup of coffee in downtown Highlands. Be warned that this place can be crowded in the summer and fall months! We hit it before the season and had a good time.
We headed back to Franklin on US64. There are some good waterfalls of this busy road. Bridal Veil Falls is on your right just 30 feet off the road. There are also Dry Falls, Bust Your Butt Falls, and Cullasaja Falls if you want to stop. After Cullasaja Falls there is a dramatic ride through Cullasaga Gorge that will get you attention. The road then levels all the way to Franklin.
There are hundreds of back roads in this area. It would take years to explore all the possibilities here, so take a DeLorme North Carolina Backroads map book and have some fun. Let us know if you find something that we should ride and report on.
NOTE: We have heard of sportbikes and Goldwings taking these backroads. We highly reccommend against it.