Favorite Longer Route near Johnson City, TN includes NC-226, NC-80 and NC-181

There are so many many great motorcycling roads near the Tri-Cities (Johnson City, Kingsport, and Bristol) but we continually go back and ride the route that I will describe in this post.  It has great scenery, curvy roads with smooth surfaces, and usually not much traffic.  There are plenty of places to stop for gas, food, or bathrooms.  I encourage you to purchase the maps supplied by http://americaridesmaps.com/“>America Rides Maps to see a hard copy of the roads in the area.  We never would have found some of the roads that we ride in the Blue Ridge Mountains if I had not discovered these maps (no financial benefit to me whether you do purchase these maps).  There are many other maps available of the area as well including https://www.maps.com/smoky-mountains-scenic-road-trips.html“>Smoky Mountains Mad Maps and the http://www.butlermaps.com/motorcycle-road-maps/southern-appalachia-map-al-tn-nc-sc-ga/“>Southern Appalachian Butler map.  This riding route is shown on all of these maps.

The first good riding road in this route is TN-107/NC-226.  Sport bikers and cruiser riders both love this road.  From NC-266, you will turn right at Red Hill, NC onto NC-197, and NC-197 will put you on US-19E which will take you into Burnsville where you can get gas (go left at stoplight at NC-197) and lunch (go right at stoplight at NC-197).  After that you will head east on US-19E for about 4 mi and turn onto NC-80.

The first part of NC-80 has some curves, but you will ride for about 5 miles before the scenery and curves get even better.  Mount Mitchell will be on your right (west) as you head towards the Blue Ridge Parkway.  You won’t get on the parkway though, you will continue on NC-80 and ride for another ~15 mi.  This section of NC-80 between the Blue Ridge Parkway and Tom’s Creek Rd is fondly known as the Devil’s Whip by local riders. After you pass the parkway entrance, the curves on NC-80 become very challenging for about 3 mi then the radii of the curves increase a bit so the curves stay challenging but more fun.  You will see plenty of the river when you go over bridges.  Lake Tohoma will be on your right and will be close to the end of the NC-80 portion of this ride.  If you ride this route on the weekends, you may get your picture taken by http://www.blindkenny.com/“>Blind Kenny.  They will have your photo posted on their web site a few days after your ride.  (Unfortunately, Blind Kenny has now stated on their web site that after 2017 they will no longer be taking pictures.)

Once you have ridden NC-80 and taken the left on Tom’s Creek Rd to the stop sign, you have the option of turning left or right onto US-221.  There are two gas stations if you head south (turn right) on US-221 and one gas station if you head north (turn left) on US-221.  If you turn right onto US-221, you will ride through the Lake James area where you will occasionally be able to see Lake James.  If you turn right onto US-221, you will stay on US-221 past the turn-off for Little Switzerland and Linville Caverns but then turn right in Linville Falls onto NC-183.

Eventually either route will direct you to NC-181. NC-181 is the next really fun part of this route.  Sometimes we ride NC-181 back and forth a few times it is so much fun.  NC-181 in this route is ~14 mi of plenty of curves that you can ride fairly quickly.

There are two routes that have been included in this post:  The Lake James route and the US-221 route.  The US-221 route sets you up to skip Lake James and go directly to ride NC-181 south and then north.

M+M_1_NC-180
Here we are in 2012 with our Triumph Street Triples at the Brown Mountain overlook on the east side of NC-181.

 

To get back to the Johnson City area you have the choice of taking the scenic route on Spanish Oak Road/ Squirrel Creek Rd to US-19E or just staying on NC-194 straight through Newland, NC to US-19E.  If you go through Newland, the route is ~180 mi long.  If you take the scenic route, you will add ~20 mi to your ride. Bob's_pinto_2We always stop at Bob’s Dairyland on US-19E in Roan Mountain, TN for drinks and sometimes ice cream before finishing the trip.  Bob’s also has really good pinto beans and cornbread and a variety of other food.  The detailed riding route is shown below and note that the US-221 alternate route (riding NC-181 both ways) is described last:

Favorite Ride  NC-226→NC-197 to Burnsville→NC-80→Lake James Rd→NC-181→Spanish Ck→US-19E→Johnson City

Instructions for downloading .gpx file

GPX files

From I-26 Exit 32 through Unicoi onto TN-107/NC-226, Right onto NC-197 S to Burnsville

From NC-197 near Burnsville, to Micaville Loop, Right onto NC-80 to Lake Tahoma

From NC-80 near Lake Tahoma, Left onto Toms Ck Rd, Right onto US-221, Right onto NC-183, Right onto NC-181 to near 181-convenience store

Start at 181-Convenience store; take NC-181; Left onto US-221; Right onto NC-194; Left onto Spanish Oak Rd; right onto US-19E 

Start at 181-Convenience store; take NC-181; Left onto US-221; Right onto NC-194 through Newland; Straight onto US-19E Through Roan Mtn to Bristol Hwy near Johnson City

NC-80_Lake_James_map1
NC-80 Lake James Route Map 1 shows the start and finish of the ride
NC-80_Lake_James_map2
NC-80 Lake James Route Map 2 shows the route on NC-80 and then through the Lake James area and then onto NC-181.

From intersection of S. Pickens Bridge Rd, North Roan (TN-36), and Boones Creek Rd (TN-354)

Head southwest on Boones Creek Rd (TN-354) to I-26  Go 1.3 mi

Left and merge onto I-26 E   Go 14.8 mi

Exit on right at I-26  Exit 32

At I-26 Exit stop sign , Right onto TN-173  Go ~0.5  mi to next stop sign.

At stop sign , Right onto TN-173  Go ~0.5  mi.

Left onto TN-107 E  (look for sign to Buladean) Go 10.2 mi.

Straight onto NC-226 S  Go 10.8 mi.

Just after Red Hill  gas station, Right onto NC-197 S  Go 4.4 mi

Left onto NC-197 S  (Follow sign “To Burnsville”) Go 6.7 mi to Burnsville stoplight.

Left on US-19E N  Go 3.2 mi to NC-80 stoplight.

Right at light onto NC-80 S/Micaville Loop  Go 0.6 mi

Right onto NC-80 S  Go 24.1 mi (past Blue Ridge Parkway entrance)

Left onto Tom’s Creek Rd (1st left after end of Lake Tohoma)  Go  2.4 mi

Right onto US-221 S  Go 2.0 mi (gas  on this part of US-221)

Left at first stoplight  (has Fish Hatchery sign).  Go ~50 feet

Quick First Left onto Hankins Road  Go 3.4 mi to stop sign

Left onto Lake James Rd  Go 6.4 mi to stop sign

Right  at stop sign onto Linville/S Mountain Institute Rd  Go 1.9 mi to stop sign.

Left onto  NC-126.  Go 5.6 mi.

Left onto Fish Hatchery Rd at top of hill.  Go 6.5 mi to stop sign

Left onto NC-181 N  Go 3.3 mi to Morgan’s 181 Convenience store for drinks and bathroom break (no gas)

Continue on NC-181 N for 17.4 mi to stop sign.

Left onto US-221 S  Go 1.5 mi

Sharp  Right onto NC-194 N  Go 2.6 mi

Left at left hand turn lane onto Spanish Oak Rd  Go 2.7 mi (Alternately you can stay on NC-194 through Newland until NC-194 continues straight onto US-19E.)

Straight onto Squirrel Creek Rd  Go 3.7 mi to stop sign.

Right onto US-19E N  Go 6.7 mi to stop sign.

Left onto US-19E N into TN   Go 6.6 mi to Bob’s Dairyland

Continue northwest for 25.6 mi on US-19E N  going through Hampton and Elizabethton

Left onto Mountain View Dr/ Tank Hill Rd/ Main St, Piney Flats     Go 2.5 mi to stop sign

Right onto Piney Flats Rd  Go 0.8 mi to stop light

Straight crossing over Bristol Highway US-19W onto Allilson Rd  Go 0.2 mi

Left onto N Pickens Bridge Rd  Go 6.8 mi to stoplight.

Stoplight is intersection with S. Pickens Bridge Rd, Boones Creek Rd/TN-354, and TN-36/ N Roan St

Favorite Ride  US-221 Route – From Tom’s Creek Rd stop sign→US-221 N to past  Linville Caverns→NC-181→Morgan’s NC-181 Convenience store→Turn around to go home

Instructions for downloading .gpx file

GPX file titled NC-226_NC-197_NC-80_NC-181_plan.gpx

NC-80_US-221_map
Map for US-221 Route – Left on US-221; go past turn off for Little Switzerland staying on US-221 until you take a right on NC-183.

 

South (Left) onto US-221 N  Go 18.3 mi passing Linville Caverns

Right onto NC-183 S  Go 4.5 mi to stop sign

Right onto NC-181 S  Go 14.1 mi to Morgan’s NC-181 Convenience store

Convenience store has  drinks and snacks and picnic area but no bathroom or gas.

Head back on NC-181 N for 17.4 mi to stop sign in Pineola.

Left onto US-221 S  Go 1.5 mi

Sharp  Right onto NC-194 N  Go 2.6 mi

Left at left hand turn lane onto Spanish Oak Rd  Go 2.7 mi (or stay on NC-194 past Newland and NC-194 continues straight onto US-19E)

Straight onto Squirrel Creek Rd  Go 3.7 mi to stop sign

Right onto US-19E N  Go 6.7 mi to stop sign

Left onto US-19E N into TN   Go 6.6 mi to Bob’s Dairyland

Continue northwest for 25.6 mi on US-19E N  going through Hampton and Elizabethton

Left onto Mountain View Dr/ Tank Hill Rd/ Main St, Piney Flats     Go 2.5 mi to stop sign

Right onto Piney Flats Rd  Go 0.8 mi to stop light

Straight crossing over Bristol Highway US-19W onto Allilson Rd  Go 0.2 mi

Left onto N Pickens Bridge Rd  Go 6.8 mi to stoplight.

Stoplight is intersection with S. Pickens Bridge Rd, Boones Creek Rd/TN-354, and TN-36/ N Roan St

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Favorite Longer Route near Johnson City, TN includes NC-226, NC-80 and NC-181

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s