Write-Up on Deal's Gap/Cherohala/Blood Mountain & Area - Sportbikes.net
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-10-2006, 02:26 PM Thread Starter
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Write-Up on Deal's Gap/Cherohala/Blood Mountain & Area

I decided to take some time out of my normally dull day to make a write-up of the area known as Deal’s Gap. I have always seen multiple questions (or threads) posted on this topic. I hope that the administrators of the following forums will sticky this topic. Not only do I hope this will introduce the area to a lot of riders that have only heard it mentioned here and there, but I hope it will effect those who have been going to the area since it was just US129.

I rode, NEVER trailer, all my bikes on any trip I make. I personally will never trailer a bike regardless because I love to ride and I will go to any lengths to only ride. The Honda CBR’s that I have owned have all had the pleasure of experiencing the Gap in their lifetime with me nestled over the gas tank. Anyway, I wanted to show my visits to the area with more then just a few pictures.



I have stayed at a few different locations and talked to a large amount of people who have done the same. Some love the rustic camping that is offered, some like the cheap hotel, and some like the cabins and retreats. I like the best of all worlds so I found a couple local spots that most ignore. These spots that I personally love are only because I do not take along a family with me. Fortunately I do not have to please other people so I think only of myself on these journeys. For those that must succumb to the family life, then staying on the popular side where all the shops are is ideal for you. A bit out of the way for the rider, but a compromise for the family trip. If a family trip entails me going to ride all day, I think a few miles can mean a lot more then a few arguments.


Place to stay for the singles or the easily convinced wives—The 2 Wheel Inn is a great place to stay if you can convince the wife that she’ll be relaxing all day or driving to the opposite side to get to shops and such. For those that can convince their lady or those that don’t need to, will love it here. The owners of the place are older, but definitely wiser. They run a great Inn there, and they will make you feel like home. On the weekends, they have fires and everyone that stays there gets together and just sits by the fire. Amongst all this, you room will be clean to all degrees and you have your own bike garage to work and clean you bike. Heck, they even give you rags! So when the wife gets bored you can just send her to Gatlinburg; they have a BUNCH of shops on Main Street so she can spend your money. When she goes there she can pick up beer and stuff as well since you can not get it on this side of the Gap. The restaurants on this side (2 Wheel Inn) will close real early so if you want dinner, eat early or go to the opposite side. I have stayed on both ends and DO NOT prefer the Gatlinburg side because it is too touristy. Unless you want to fight the ongoing car traffic, I would recommend staying on the south side of the Gap. Also, this is where the Cherohala Skyway is located. You can find DollyWood on the north side of the Gap, and it is a decent ride just to get to the Gap. That ride is nice because you catch the foothill parkway (sweepers easily taken at 70mph), but out of the way for that little stretch.

Place to stay for easy going, outdoors people—If NOT BOOKED, grab the places at the GAP www.dealsgap.com Prices are nice, and the hospitality is unreal. At this place you are 100% sure of having NOTHING BUT BIKERS around you (all kinda from cruisers to crotches, most crotches). Great time and great people...book ASAP! I can’t really say much on the rooms because this place is booked too far in advance for me. I can never seem to book things in time so I just wing it. Either way, this is the meeting spot for any rider in the area or visiting the area. The reason is that they are the only store there at the Gap. They have gas, a restaurant, cold beverages, souvenirs, and a tree to dangle your broken bike parts. You’ll soon find out that you have no choice but to visit the Gap’s only true resort so you might as well plan on it!

Places to stay for those family people—Anywhere on the north side of the Gap because it is so close to all the shops. Your family can enjoy countless days of fun, exciting, credit card spending while you whip around the roads. The last trip that I made to the Gap, two other riders and myself stayed at the Knights Inn in Gatlinburg. It was actually quite nice for the cost of the room; however, for the same price we could’ve stayed at the Gap resort. The hospitality at the Knights Inn was beyond what I was used to for a chain of hotels…they were catering to our every demand. On top of that, a liquor store was a stone’s throw away.



The real reason, regardless of what you tell the ladies, for your trip to the area is for the roads. Now of course if you have planned on going to the Gap it is solely to ride the Gap. You will hear the locals and other riders mentioning other roads, but this means nothing to you on your first trip. I just would like to extend the knowledge of those other roads and make your first trip more profound then leaving with just the memory of a single road. I do not hold anything against The Dragon, but I surely would not want to miss out on the area’s finest motorcycle ROADS.


Place to ride—The Gap aka Tail of the Dragon of course. This is the reason for your 2 hour or 2 day drive. This road is usually crowded depending on the time so be prepared. If you know about it, in Canada, just imagine how many others know about it in the states. Check the Gap site out first because there are a lot of events going on and you don’t want to get stuck in the midst. Those that ride it fast will pass with or without permission so give permission to pass. Same goes for you...even though you may catch Mr.HD and wife dragging ass they DO SEE YOU and 85% of the time will wave you on. Don’t be a fool to them and pass them because you can. Their are pull offs every so often for you to take pics and such. Also check out www.zeephoto.com and www.killboy.com cuz they sit and take high res pics of you riding at cheap costs. CHECK YOUR SPEED, the cops are not so forgiving though at some times are not even there to bother you. Check into www.dealsgap.com though because if they know about cops, you'll know about cops...keeping us updated 24/7

Place to ride—The Cherohala Skyway is a long, elevation changing motorcycle dream world. After thinking I was in Heaven the first time in the area, I was shocked when a buddy and me hit the Skyway the next time I arrived at the Dragon. The road to the Skyway is not prime riding, but it is jewel beyond that. It is best to ask directions from a rider that knows how to get there. I could only try to get you there, but I would have to reference a map to be totally sure. The road is great for motorcycles and cars due to its sweepers and switchbacks. Imagine if you take one corner of the Gap and the other and stretch it out over 50 miles. That my friends, is the Skyway…a beginner/rookie can take turns around 50-70 and feel comfortable. A skilled/seasoned rider will never want to leave that road not only because it is 50 miles long, but also it is less populated then any of the others. This is on the south side of the Gap and between that and 2 Wheel Inn.

Place to ride—The Foothills Parkway has a lot of pull offs available for scenic views. I personally was not a huge fan and would not go out of my way to ride the Parkway due to the amount of pull offs. If I wanted to worry about a car pulling out in front of me, I would have stayed home. This road has mostly sweepers, so if you want a smaller version of the Cherohala with a lot of places to shoot up some pictures then you may want to head out this way. It is on the north side of the Gap between that and Gatlinburg.

Place to ride—Highway 28 has got a lot of positive reviews from other riders. Unfortunately I always stayed off this highway because I heard nothing but warnings of police force always on duty. So, my knowledge of this road is nothing but ignorance. Ask any other rider there and they should know whether or not you would want to risk it. Most riders will know where police are; it is like the inside of a jail in that respect.

Place to ride (outside the Gap-US129)—First, I have heard a few rumors and tales of a section of the area called Blood Mountain. This section is a 2-hour ride south of the Gap, but 129 is pretty scenic and just for that stretch, it is out of the way. Blood Mountain would take, at minimum, 5-6 total hours to ride there and back and to appreciate the road. It is one HELL OF A section of US129 so if you are going that way and don't ride it, you would be making a huge mistake. If you come from the north then it is a waste of a day unless you have days to waste. If that is the case prepare for an uphill/downhill climb with great banking turns that even NASCAR drivers would drool over. It feels like you are in a roller coaster coming off that first 200-foot drop slamming into that first turn but with your knee out to the side.

So the difference is obvious. I would say that if I could go back to the first time I went to the Gap I would have definitely taken a full day to ride the Skyway. In my opinion riding that would have built my confidence more because of the gradual turns and the traffic is QUITE less then the Gap. Then after that I would ride the Gap multiple times over and over again until I at least knew 18 of the 318 turns. The Gap is a small section, but can take twenty minutes for a beginner each way. “If a GoldWing can do it in 11 minutes, then I sure as hell can” is what I recall a buddy of mine saying (exact words vary). Well as I caught up, his bike was lying in the leaves…


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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-10-2006, 02:27 PM Thread Starter
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When deciding on what sights to see and where to eat, keep in mind that everything on the south side closes well before you return from your ride. Everything on the north side, however, remains open for a while longer. There are always places to visit, pictures to take, gifts to buy, and things to do. I just wanted to point out those specifically related to the sole reason for your trip.


Places to eat—I will not comment on this much because I personally have not agreed with any of the locals on the food choices. I ate at the pizza place, and well it is a pizza place so there is not much more to say other then it is cheap. The BBQ place in the area of 2 Wheel Inn was not what I expected so I was a bit disappointed. The restaurants on the Gatlinburg side are ones that all of us are familiar with. However, I can say that the restaurant at the Deal’s Gap resort was quite up to par…this could be because it is full of bikers so the atmosphere is that which you’de expect

Places to visit—Wheeler’s Bike shop was great. Bike dyno’s for $20 and the service is SUPERB. There are only like 2 places to take your bike, but really there is only 1…Wheeler’s. Wheeler, himself, is a hell of a man. He has built a very reputable service in the area, and beyond! If you drop your bike and break your from brake lever off leaving you to ride through the Gap without front brakes then you will want to stop in at Wheeler’s. Chances are that he has the part in stock. This was exactly the case when I pulled over to help what I thought was a broken car on the side of the road and ended up dropping the bike on it’s side. My front brake lever snapped completely off so that I had nothing to initiate the brakes with. I rode slowly and gracefully to Wheeler’s who I had seen previously that day about jetting my bike and showed him the damage. He hollered at one of his workers; within 5 minutes I was headed back to the Gap to visit The Tree of Shame. He would love you to leave your busted parts with him because he can fix it and resell it to some poor sole that also has a 1994 CBR F2, but the brake lever that broke was de-commissioned.

Places to visit—Deal’s Gap resort is a great place if you don’t stay there, eat there, get souvenirs there, or gas up there. Most likely you will HAVE to do one or the other or all. It is the ONLY gas station that is directly located at the Gap. Also, those who bust up their plastics in the leaves tend to leave a little souvenir behind at The Tree of Shame. If you mistake the leaves of this tree for motorcycle parts, look again! The Staff at Deal’s Gap have turned little unknown road into the MECCA of motorcycling roads. Since moving out west, I ask everyone if they have heard of the road and most say yes. For those few that do not know, I make sure to make a second visit bearing my Tail of the Dragon shirt.



Without the support of fellow riders I would’ve never heard of this road to begin with. My first time there was on Easter Sunday when I expected to be taming The Dragon without the crowds. That was a silly assumption; it was as packed as ever with families and adventurous riders like myself. This is where my passion for motorcycle riding blossomed. I have always rode for multiple hours just for that little stretch of road that sets it self apart from the rest. This particular ride was with a single day’s notice. I found a forum that mentioned this fabulous road, and told my roommate “this is how I am going to spend Easter” and he laughed. So, I packed the bag and headed north from Orlando on the bike. It was supposed to be ranging around 9.5 hours and 600 miles. After a small hiccup along the way I realized that this was not going to happen as Mapquest though. I left at midnight the previous day and arrived at 5pm on the following night. It was a long day, to say the least. I ran into a few motorcycle friendly shops along the way and they kept pointing me further up the road. I do recall one place was called RabbitTown or something silly like that, could never locate it on a map. I managed to find it my second time back though and the same girl was working their at the gas station…she remembered my helmet. The first trip is where I met the Deal’s Gap resort people in person, Wheller’s, the couple at 2 Wheel Inn, the cute girls at Subway, and the dozens of fellow riders all sharing the same passion. After this trip, though it was only a day, I opted to return and I did. This time it was a bit more planned; about 3 days in advance. I was heading north anyway so I figured I would tag along on a Sportbikes.net trip. I’ll leave the other riders’ names unmentioned because I do not want to say who bike was playing in the leaves that day or in the dirt or in the grass. This trip meant a lot more to me because I was able to share an awesome trip with several other riders, a mix of skill levels. Not two of us were the same age, rode the same bike, had the same gear, looked the same (ok so two of them did, hehehe), we all shared a common bond…riding the twisties


Special Thanks to the following websites:
www.dealsgap.com
www.tailofthedragon.com
www.wheelersperformance.com
www.twowheelinn.com
www.killboy.com
www.zeephoto.com


Hope you all enjoyed reading this little scripture and can share such memories and opinions,
Thomas “little iron butt” Gray


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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-09-2007, 11:53 PM
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great write up! Blood mountain is my stomping ground.
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-21-2007, 12:36 PM
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Sweet Water BBQ in Robinsville, NC is very very good.

The Microtel and Phillips Motel are both good places to stay.

I showed up there at 9:30pm and they opened the doors to make me a sandwich. Very good service and very good food.

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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-21-2007, 05:13 PM Thread Starter
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That is awesome because everyone closes...EARLY on that side of the gap.


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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-24-2007, 02:20 PM
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Nice write up. Not to trying to jack this thread, but here's some info on a place that I have stayed for the past three years.

Last May I stayed at the Kickstand Lodge located on Rt 28 aka (Hellbender) in Stecoah NC which is about 23 miles from the Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort. Camped there for seven nights with electricity for $91.00. I have stayed there the past three times that I have been to that area. And have become quite good friends with the owner(Mo). I brought extra blankets and a small space heater for the tent for that cool mountain air at night. This past May it got down into the 30's a couple of nights during the trip. Great sleeping weather. Mo is very nice and takes very good care of her guests. So does that sound good to you guys that are interested? She also cooks breakfast and dinner every night for her paying guests and only asks for a donation for what you think the meal was worth to you. My biggest expense last year was gasoline(BRP), spinning through a pass like Deal’s Gap or just wandering along the mountainsides like the Cherohala Skyway. The entire area is motorcycling Valhalla; if it’s fun rides you want, you’ll find them here in abundance.

Even considering that you’d have to work at it to find a bad one, mapping a good route is still preferable if you’re on any kind of a scheduled. I do have a handful of favorite routes that I’ve ridden, some short and some not so short, all fun. I’m going to describe a few of them for you here and hopefully make it a littler easier for you if you get the chance to visit the area. Don’t be afraid to take a side road though, it’s almost guaranteed to be another good one. While I fully understand that many, if not most riders, including myself, subscribe to the “it’s not the destination, it’s the ride” philosophy, I’m still going to use a favorite destination as the jump0-off point. It really is a great spot in itself and pretty near perfectly located to the roads and rides I like.

Nestled alongside Highway 28 near Stecoah, N.C. there’s a spot aptly named the Kickstand Lodge (KSL) and the name pretty much tells you what it is-a campground for motorcyclists and motorcyclists only. It wasn’t always the picturesque retreat for motorcyclists that it is today. Just a few short years ago it was a run down, abandoned former campground called the “Stec0their calendar, as the atmosphere and location are ideal. Back to the rides and roads: as described, they all leave from the KSL. For more details and routes you can check out the maps here and on their Web site.

One of my favorite rides runs first to Murphy, then loops through Suches, Clayton and Franklin. Along the way you’ll see the Hiawassee Lake and Dam, and the town of Helen, a kind of transplanted Alpine village complete with shops, shops and shops. You’ll also get to “Run the Wolf” (GA 180, Wolf Pen Gap Road), which has some of the tightest turns in the state. The loop is about 274 miles and will take most of the day.

The next ride takes you through the famous Deal’s Gap and the Cherohala Skyway. While Deal’s Gap provides without question, the most challenging and exciting run in the area, the Cherohala provides arguably the most beautiful scenery and overlooks. A note of caution regarding Deal’s Gap: it is truly a dangerous road for the uniformed. It’s just intoxicating enough to draw many a rider in over their head and leave them in a pile on the roadside. Be careful! Riding this complete loop back to the KSL will cover just about 141 miles.

Yet another favorite runs up through Cherokee to the Blue Ridge Parkway and then over to Asheville. This is one excellent section of the BRP, you won’t want to miss it. Continue south to the Chimney Rock and then over to Highlands acycling, the mountains are gorgeous and the accommodations are, well, they’re all a traveling motorcyclist could ask for. For more information, visit Kickstandlodge.com or call 828-479-6069.

Citation

Denny, Bob. Accelerate Official Publication of Riders of Kawasaki. Feb. 2007.


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