A Biker’s Weekend Ride
A BIKERS’ WEEKEND RIDE / DRIVE IN THE BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS
Rabun County is known as the “Gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains” and is the perfect base for your next motorcycle adventure! Road bikers will find many choice routes that wind and twist through the beautiful foothills of the Smokies with exciting rides and incredible vistas.
Arrive in Rabun County in time for lunch at the Rusty Bike Café located on Highway 441 in Clayton. Voted the best place for breakfast for several years running, The Rusty Bike also has a great lunch menu. People come just for their fantastic burgers but my favorite is “The Hog” a grilled cheese sandwich with a twist, melted pimento cheese with bacon, jalapeno and an onion ring. Their collection of biking paraphernalia will put you in the mood for your drive on Day Two. Be sure to look for owner/chef Joel Johnson who is an avid biker and can give you great suggestions for your day’s adventure.
After lunch check in to one of Rabun’s many comfortable motels, cabins or campsites. Then take some time to visit Blackrock Mountain State Park, Georgia’s highest state park at an altitude of 3,640 feet with beautiful vistas. As an alternative, spend time enjoying the spectacular views of the Tallulah River as it winds it’s way along the floor of the 1,000 foot deep Tallulah Gorge State Park, considered to be the South’s “Grand Canyon”. From the rim of the gorge you can view six waterfalls which cause the river to drop 500 feet over a one mile stretch or you can get a permit to descend into the gorge. After your park experience relax and enjoy casual outdoor dining at the Universal Joint in downtown Clayton.
After a good night’s sleep, wake up early Saturday and enjoy breakfast at the Clayton Cafe, one of Clayton’s longest running “down home” restaurants. Then start your drive heading up 441 North until you reach Highway 64 in Franklin. Head west for several miles until you see Wayah Road on the right. Enjoy the beautiful sights as you ride the road. About 30 – 45 minutes into Wayah, keep an eye out for Wayah Bald on the right. It is a four and a half mile gravel road to the top of Wayah Bald mountain. The road is well-maintained and easy to travel on a motorcycle. The views from the top are spectacular. Many times you will be well above the clouds! Continue on Wayah Road on the side of the Nantahala River, a world-class whitewater rafting river that attracts canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts, until you dead-end into the Nantahala Scenic Byway. Turn right and follow the Byway to the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC), a “paradise for outdoor lovers”. You can shop or hang out on the beach. There’s also a great little restaurant where you can enjoy lunch right on the river and watch the Kayakers practice. After lunch continue along the Byway (Hwy 74) and follow the signs to Highway 28 back to Franklin. From Franklin return to Clayton on Hwy 441. Enjoy a leisurely dinner at Fortify Kitchen & Bar, Rabun’s leader in Farm-to-Table restaurants located on North Main Street in Clayton (You will need to make reservations in advance as the restaurant is very popular).
Enjoy breakfast at The Rusty Bike and share your adventures with Joel. Then, if you have time before you need to head back home, take Hwy 441 North to Cherokee where the Blue Ridge Parkway officially ends at the southern entrance gateway into the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Follow the parkway for several hours along the western and southern edge of Haywood County to the city of Asheville, enjoying stunning views along the way. If you wish to stop for lunch, Asheville has many great restaurant choices. Then follow the freeway to return to Clayton.