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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
any thoughts on this ride? or section of a ride really

I hope to be going cross country from cali to summerville s.c. and use ACA maps most of the way up to Damascus Va. but there are no maps from damascus to summerville.
 

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I think it looks pretty good.

The part from Trade, TN to Valle Crucis is part of the BS&G ride. I've ridden that part and the Blue Ridge part and can recommend it. I have not been on Rt 181 but I have driven Rt 321 and it's pretty busy with traffic and was under construction south of Blowing Rock last summer.

hth
 

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I have ridden parts of that route.

The Parkway is the Parkway. Fine riding and well graded

181 from Linville to Morgantown, or from the Blue Ridge PW is a fun road. It is @10 mile downhill from Jonas Ridge to Brown Mountain Beach Rd. Lots of fast curves and runaway truck lanes. Loaded touring you should be aware of heated rims, but by the time you get there you will have been acquainted with fast downhills.

321S from Blowing Rock is miserable. I've ridden parts of 221 as part of the Bridge to Bridge ride. It's OK up near Blowing Rock and Boone, except for traffic.

I drove 421 from Damascus South to Linville, on my way to Asheville for CX Nats and there was lots lots of construction and traffic, but looked ridable.

any thoughts on this ride? or section of a ride really

I hope to be going cross country from cali to summerville s.c. and use ACA maps most of the way up to Damascus Va. but there are no maps from damascus to summerville.
 

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From Damascus you can take the Virginia Creeper trail (it is unpaved but well packed) up to Whitetop, Va. From there I would take US 58 east through Volney (yes, it's an old US highway but not that heavily traveled) to the turnoff towards Piney Creek, NC (Va 93) then NC 113 through Laurel Springs to the Blue Ridge Parkway. I'd take the BRP southwest past Boone and the roads that lead through Morgantown to Little Switzerland, whereupon you can descend into Marion NC.

I generally prefer to take the state highways rather than the US routes because they head through smaller towns. I would avoid the Hickory, Charlotte, Gastonia, Spartanburg, Greenville and Columbia areas as much as possible - preferring to take the lesser roads through smaller towns. Lower traffic volumes make for more enjoyable touring IMO.

My trips across South Carolina were always headed from Athens, GA towards either Chapel Hill, Boone or Brevard so I haven't ridden through anything in SC southeast of the Greenwood, Newberry, Winnsboro and Lancaster corridor. I found that riding in western SC was pretty enjoyable as long as I stayed away from the more developed areas. I once rode through Rock Hill on the way back from Richmond, VA and did not like all the traffic in that area. I would guess that the Gaffney/Kings Mountain area would be the best place to cross the I-85 corridor.
 

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I've been experimenting with the new Strava Route Builder. It uses the Heat Map data of a year of uploaded strava gps recordings to pick roads that are popular with cyclists. Google Maps Bike option will just choose the most direct route, and it's often a poor choice.

In the mountains, the Route Builder may pick gravel roads or trails that are popular, so check out the route before you ride!

Get a free Strava account to edit these routes.

~~~~~

Here's Damacus to Morgantown,
by just clicking the end points.
(I know Damascus, but not the rest of this route.)
strava.com/routes/4905168

I like the route to mile 18. Then it gets on US421, which could be busy, I guess. But there's no other obvious way over the mountain ridge near there. You might want to check out alternate roads that would add quite a few miles to the route.

( at about mile 25, I dragged the route to the right, over to Pottertown, and it avoided US421, but added more climbing, and routed through Boone NC, which might be busy.)

Around mile 26, it takes "Old 421" which sounds good to me!

It passes through Valle Crucis, which I've heard is an interesting small town. Then about mile 48, it's onto the Blue Ridge Parkway at Raven Rocks. This is good! Exit the BRP at about mile 68. It follows state roads to the end at mile 93.


~~~~

To modify or review it:
click Duplicate to make your own copy.
click Edit

On the left, click Map Settings icon, then turn on Global Heatmap, to show the popular roads on the map. Try the Terrain Map option

You can drag the existing route over to a new road, and it'll recalc the route in a couple of seconds. There's Undo and Redo so you can revert back to the previous road if needed.

Some of the popular roads might be the only choice in the area, and not too nice for riding. And strava attracts a lot of strong riders that like climbing big or steep roads, so those may show as popular, but most cyclists would go around the climb.

There's a "min elevation" option at the top, but it'll really take the long way around to avoid climbing. But you could choose it, and then drag to modify the route as usual. Well--I clicked it, and it actually made a shorter 89 mile route with 5200 feet instead of 93 miles with 6400 feet. (but probably busier roads.) There's not too many alternate routes in these mountains--on flatter territory, it'll go way around any hills.
 

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From Damascus you can take the Virginia Creeper trail (it is unpaved but well packed) up to Whitetop, Va. From there I would take US 58 east through Volney (yes, it's an old US highway but not that heavily traveled) to the turnoff towards Piney Creek, NC (Va 93) then NC 113 through Laurel Springs to the Blue Ridge Parkway. I'd take the BRP southwest past Boone and the roads that lead through Morgantown to Little Switzerland, whereupon you can descend into Marion NC.

I generally prefer to take the state highways rather than the US routes because they head through smaller towns. I would avoid the Hickory, Charlotte, Gastonia, Spartanburg, Greenville and Columbia areas as much as possible - preferring to take the lesser roads through smaller towns. Lower traffic volumes make for more enjoyable touring IMO.

My trips across South Carolina were always headed from Athens, GA towards either Chapel Hill, Boone or Brevard so I haven't ridden through anything in SC southeast of the Greenwood, Newberry, Winnsboro and Lancaster corridor. I found that riding in western SC was pretty enjoyable as long as I stayed away from the more developed areas. I once rode through Rock Hill on the way back from Richmond, VA and did not like all the traffic in that area. I would guess that the Gaffney/Kings Mountain area would be the best place to cross the I-85 corridor.
This looks good. I followed your directions to the BRP, then let Strava calculate the exit point off the Parkway. 147 miles, 12000 feet. A very nice route.
Onto the Parkway at mile 55, then exit at mile 120.


strava.com/routes/4905692


The Creeper Trail is really scenic, following a mountain stream, with a lot of bridge crossings. It avoids climbing up the fairly busy part of US58, which quiets down and is rideable after Whitetop.

And of course, the Parkway is great for riding. But note that most towns are down below, sometimes with a steep road to the Parkway.

You might want to detour a few miles past this Parkway exit to Linville Falls Park, then back to the exit. Very scenic.

I simply clicked Damascus, then US58 past the end of the Creeper Trail, then a few miles down Rt 93, then clicked on the BRP just past Laurel Springs, and clicked again way down the Parkway. Finally, clicked in Morgantown. Easy!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the good info! What do you think about riding on blowing rock highway / 221 that runs parallel to the BRP? It looks accessible where shulls mill rd connects with the BRP.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I've read that there are a lot of tourist that get take to the top of the Creeper Trail and then they ride down hill on rented bikes have you experienced this?
 

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Thanks for the good info! What do you think about riding on blowing rock highway / 221 that runs parallel to the BRP? It looks accessible where shulls mill rd connects with the BRP.
Rt221 is good from Shulls Mill to Blowing Rock but I cannot recommend it going west from Schulls Mill. The road itself is interesting with lots of sharp corners. The danger is the commercial traffic i.e. trucks that use that road. The BRP is a much better option.

Schulls Mill itself is my absolute favorite road in Blowing Rock. It' a flat out blast to ride downhill and even fun to ride up. I ride it every chance I get.
 

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I've read that there are a lot of tourist that get take to the top of the Creeper Trail and then they ride down hill on rented bikes have you experienced this?
I've not been on the Creeper Trail but know of friends who have done the very thing you ask about. I don't know how much traffic it sees but would imagine most is on the weekend.
 

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I've read that there are a lot of tourist that get take to the top of the Creeper Trail and then they ride down hill on rented bikes have you experienced this?
Yes. I did a round trip ride last year, from Abingdon to the top and back. Most riders go from White Top downhill to Damascus, on rented balloon tire bikes. The other half of the trail, Abingdon to Damascus, is much less busy.

It was a warm, sunny Tuesday in October, and there were quite a few riders coming down. Most were in small groups of 2 to 5 riders, no problem. But sometimes I saw larger groups with small kids heading down toward me, and I stopped briefly at the side of the trail until they passed. Some of the little kids were weaving a little, and I didn't want a (low speed) collision if they oversteered.

This is one of those "worth the drive" rides. So scenic. And better than climbing US58 with it's traffic.

It's a pretty good workout, even with no panniers. The trail gets steeper near the top, occasionally around 4%, and the crushed rock surface and rocky bumps make the pedaling harder, too.

I don't think I'd do it on a summer weekend at all. Sorry, I've only been there in spring or fall. Perhaps someone else knows the weekday traffic in the summer.
 

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Thanks for the good info! What do you think about riding on blowing rock highway / 221 that runs parallel to the BRP? It looks accessible where shulls mill rd connects with the BRP.
I used to ride that portion all the time. My dad had retired to Boone and his house was very close to the base of Shulls Mill Rd. Both Shulls Mill Rd and old US 221 climb nice and easily up the flanks of Grandfather Mountain. There were (this was in the mid 80s) a bunch of little local souvenir stands along 221 but I'll bet that most have withered since the BRP was finished across the flanks of Grandfather Mtn in the late 80s. Anyway, we used to hammer up that stretch - easily maintaining 20+ mph on a slight uphill heading south from Shulls Mill Rd. Hell, I remember passing a Cadillac with Florida plates on the climb up Shulls Mill Rd once... (that's right, going uphill, not downhill).

Also, there used to be a great little spring on Shulls Mill Rd about a half mile below the parkway - cold, clean water coming out of a pipe in the side of the mountain. I always stopped to fill my bottles there.

The Creeper Trail had not been developed when I lived back east, so I have never ridden it. I am a member of the Rails to Trails Conservancy, so I have read many articles on it. Keep in mind that it was a railroad, so the gradient is not super steep. Yes a lot of people take a shuttle on it, but then a lot of people can't imagine riding their bikes across the country. You will have no trouble riding it as long as you don't mind packed gravel/dirt.
 

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Rt221 is good from Shulls Mill to Blowing Rock but I cannot recommend it going west from Schulls Mill. The road itself is interesting with lots of sharp corners. The danger is the commercial traffic i.e. trucks that use that road. The BRP is a much better option.

Schulls Mill itself is my absolute favorite road in Blowing Rock. It' a flat out blast to ride downhill and even fun to ride up. I ride it every chance I get.
JR's experience is much more recent than mine, though for a person who just rode across the country the traffic on 221 might not seem so bad. I don't recall it being anywhere near as bad as 421 from Boone to Blowing Rock. Plus, the commercial traffic has to be on the stretch from Blowing Rock to Shull's Mill Rd if it is on the stretch further south from there. Yes, it has a lot of curves (even one with a rock overhang that you'll swear is going to take your head right off!) but you can maintain a good pace up it and I never was hassled by anyone while on it - 30 years ago.

JR... does that sweet little spring still flow on Shull's Mill Rd?
 

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bradkay, I haven't noticed the spring but will look for it. I plan to be in the area next month. Is it above or below Poplar Grove Rd?

My main concern with Rt 221 west of Schulls Mill is the traffic combined with the tight corners and no shoulders. I was going to ride it one of the times I was there but changed my mind after driving from Grandfather to Blowing Rock in the car. I would not hesitate to ride it if it was the only option but think the BRP is a much better choice.
 

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The climb up 221 from Blowing Rock to Grandfather Mountain is part of the Bridge to Bridge Tour. It parallels the BRP and isn't too bad.
bradkay, I haven't noticed the spring but will look for it. I plan to be in the area next month. Is it above or below Poplar Grove Rd?

My main concern with Rt 221 west of Schulls Mill is the traffic combined with the tight corners and no shoulders. I was going to ride it one of the times I was there but changed my mind after driving from Grandfather to Blowing Rock in the car. I would not hesitate to ride it if it was the only option but think the BRP is a much better choice.
 

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bradkay, I haven't noticed the spring but will look for it. I plan to be in the area next month. Is it above or below Poplar Grove Rd?

My main concern with Rt 221 west of Schulls Mill is the traffic combined with the tight corners and no shoulders. I was going to ride it one of the times I was there but changed my mind after driving from Grandfather to Blowing Rock in the car. I would not hesitate to ride it if it was the only option but think the BRP is a much better choice.
Wow... I haven't been back there since 1986, so you're making me dig in my archives for my Backroads of the Blue Ridge map. Okay, that's not helping... it isn't showing that other road (the map is also from 1985). As I said before, IIRC the spring was about a half mile or so below the junction with the BRP (so it is probably above Poplar Grove Rd if that is the one I remember coming in from the right as you climb towards the BRP), on the left as you are climbing from Boone towards the BRP. It was a little steel pipe sticking out the side of the slope next to the ditch.

When I was in Boone in 1985 (settling my dad's affairs after he died) they were still building the viaduct (BRP) on the side of Grandfather Mountain, so 221 received all the BRP traffic as well as the local traffic. Because it is so twisty the cars really can't go too fast so I never felt any concern riding on that road. In those days my favorite loop was to head out of Boone up Shull's Mill Rd, southwest on 221 to Linville, thence to Newland, over through Banner Elk to Valle Crucis and back into Boone.
 

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Rt221 is good from Shulls Mill to Blowing Rock but I cannot recommend it going west from Schulls Mill. The road itself is interesting with lots of sharp corners. The danger is the commercial traffic i.e. trucks that use that road. The BRP is a much better option.

Schulls Mill itself is my absolute favorite road in Blowing Rock. It' a flat out blast to ride downhill and even fun to ride up. I ride it every chance I get.
I just rode Rt 221 from Blowing Rock to Linnville this morning. I was wrong about commercial traffic. It is not allowed on that section of Rt 221. I thought it was a great ride, lots of fun corners with very little traffic.
 

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Wow... I haven't been back there since 1986, so you're making me dig in my archives for my Backroads of the Blue Ridge map. Okay, that's not helping... it isn't showing that other road (the map is also from 1985). As I said before, IIRC the spring was about a half mile or so below the junction with the BRP (so it is probably above Poplar Grove Rd if that is the one I remember coming in from the right as you climb towards the BRP), on the left as you are climbing from Boone towards the BRP. It was a little steel pipe sticking out the side of the slope next to the ditch.

When I was in Boone in 1985 (settling my dad's affairs after he died) they were still building the viaduct (BRP) on the side of Grandfather Mountain, so 221 received all the BRP traffic as well as the local traffic. Because it is so twisty the cars really can't go too fast so I never felt any concern riding on that road. In those days my favorite loop was to head out of Boone up Shull's Mill Rd, southwest on 221 to Linville, thence to Newland, over through Banner Elk to Valle Crucis and back into Boone.
I did your loop today. Great route! Started in Blowing Rock, went throught Linville to Newland, took Hickory Nut Gap Rd (now that was fun) to Banner Elk and out to Valle Crucis and up Schull's Mill to Blowing Rock. Nice weather and a very enjoyable ride. 57 miles with 5200'

I looked for the spring but didn't see anything.
 

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I did your loop today. Great route! Started in Blowing Rock, went throught Linville to Newland, took Hickory Nut Gap Rd (now that was fun) to Banner Elk and out to Valle Crucis and up Schull's Mill to Blowing Rock. Nice weather and a very enjoyable ride. 57 miles with 5200'

I looked for the spring but didn't see anything.
It's been thirty years since I rode that route. I am glad it hasn't been messed up. In fact, I'll bet that since they opened up the viaduct on the BRP Route 221 is even better. In my day they were still building that section of the BRP so all the traffic was on 221. Now it is probably a pretty quiet stretch - and so fun to hammer up. I used to get a kick out of seeing a rock overhang on the southbound lane that had obvious scratch marks from large trucks that failed to clear the overhang.

Maybe they took out the pipe, or the spring was lower down Schull's Mill Rd than I remember. It was a long time ago. I've a photo posted on facebook of my old roommate filling his water bottle from it...
 
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