Day Four - Grandfather Mountain Tour (255 miles)
We started the day by taking the US226A tour (KMZ).  We headed west on US226A from our motel which quickly turns south and follows Three Mile Creek down the valley between Locust Knob and Chestnut Ridge of the Woods Mountain.  US226A is extremely tight down the mountain and was difficult to pass slower moving traffic.  At the bottom of the hill in Turkey Cove we hit US226 and headed back up north toward our motel.  This road is less twisty and with the uphill run we screamed back up the mountain.  It was a nice approximately 35 mile side trip.  Back on the Parkway we were headed north and exited at MP 316.3 to view the Linville Falls (KMZ).  We walked roughly 1 mile back towards the falls but as the trail was climbing with no end in sight we decided we needed to gat back to riding.  We next stopped at MP 304.4 on the Linn Cove Viaduct.  Another spot we have stopped at before but one with great scenic vistas.  Back up on the Parkway we headed north and viewed the great scenery while intermittently turning up the volume.  At our designated exit point at MP280 (access to US 221) the Parkway was closed for repairs.  We turned right on US 221 headed North/East to Brownwood Road (KMZ).  We turned left on Brownwood which brought us through pastoral farms and woods to the town of Brownwood where we turned left and headed north towards Todd on Railroad Grade Road (KMZ).  This road follows the route of an old railroad that once ran there along the banks of the New River.  The 8 mile ride is gorgeous but extremely flat and the road is exceptionally narrow.  This is a very popular place for bicycle riding so blasting down this road is not wise.  We stopped along the river just short of downtown Todd (KMZ) to soak in the views.  Todd was once a thriving logging town in the early 20th century and the Todd General Store dates back to 1914.  Once through town we caught NC 194 west toward Boone.  NC 194 is a scenic byway the spans the High Country.  Around the town of Todd and points west the countryside is dotted with Christmas tree farms, old barns, and rolling pastures.  As we arrived in Boone we were in familiar territory with Mountain City TN only a short 30 miles across Stone Mountain.  In Boone we decided to stop for a bite to eat.  The street was under repair and we did not have a good spot to park the bikes but we decided to try this particular sushi place on the main drag.  As I was putting my bike up on the center stand a heard an awful crash.  Steve's bike had fallen over.  The damage was minimal but the right foot peg casting was badly damaged.  We tried to fix something up using his rear peg but we were unable.  He had to ride the balance of day with his right foot on the rear peg.  I was not worried about the lack of comfort, only the safety factor.  Needless to say he took it easy the rest of the day.  NC 194 runs with US321 & US 421 until the town of Vilas where NC 194 turns left and proceeds up a steep hairpin turn towards Vale Crucis, the Valley of the Cross.  The road here runs through the Watuga River valley is flat out beautiful.  Levi Silliman Ives named this area in 1842 because of the convergence of two streams that form the shape of a cross.  Valle Crucis is home to the Mast General Store.  The store opened in 1883 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.  In Valle Crucis we went straight on Broadstone Road rather than taking a right to continue on NC 194.  Broadstone Rd. is a nice winding narrow road through pastoral lands and small farms.  This road dumps out onto NC 105 where we headed south for a short time until we got to Shull's Mill.  There we took a back road called Old Turnpike Road on the DeLorme map but was marked as Shull's Mill Road (KMZ).  Shull's Mill Road was originally the Yonahlossee Turnpike, built in the late 1800's to connect the resort communities of Linville and Blowing Rock.  At the beginning  of Shull's Mill Road, you'll see the Shull's Mill Country Store and across the road, the Shull's Mill Baptist Church.  Both were built around 1850, when Shull's Mill was a robust settlement.  In the roughly four miles before the road goes under the BRP some of the best views of Grandfather Mountain can be had.  Midway along the road, you'll see Camp Yonahlossee, a nearly 80-year-old summer camp for children. The road was a toll stop between Lincolnton and Abingdon, Virginia, meaning travelers had to pay to get between the mountains.  A sawmill was erected at the site, as well as a train depot, and during 1915, a thousand people lived in the area due to the logging industry.  The area was devastated in the famous 1940 flood, and lost its place as one of the larger communities in the High Country.  Now Hound Ears Club covers the slopes, with some of the most expensive houses in the western part of the state.  We turned right and headed south on US 221.  This is one of my favorite roads.  Before the Lincove Viaduct (KMZ) was completed in 1987 this was a part of the BRP.  Just below the Lincove Viaduct we stopped at some waterfalls we spotted from along the road.  Continuing south on US 221 we were winding up Grandfather Mountain, we rode past the entrance to the park but had no intention of stopping.  Back down the other side we pulled into the town of Linville.  There US 221 runs with NC 181 before it turns northwest to catch NC 194 running due south.  At the town of Three Mile we ran due west over to US 19E for a bit of back tracking through the towns of Spruce Pine and Burnsville.  We got off of the large four lane road at Mars Hill.  As we exited and rode through Mars Hill a thought of Hank Williams for a brief moment as this was were he lost his life in an automobile accident.  NC 213 runs along side Bailey Ridge and Sevenmile Ridge in the Walnut Mountains.  It is fairly flat and every bit a secondary road.  NC 213 hooks up with US 70 (KMZ) and US 25 outside of Marshall.  The road is a little more fun in this area as we passed by streams including Big Laurel River and the Little and Big Hurricance Creeks along with Laurel Creek.  A brief run through Tennessee and we dropped down to the French Broad River and into the town of Hot Springs (KMZ).  The Hot Springs was first discovered in 1792 and the 200 room Hotel was built in 1886.  Buncombe Turnpike was built at this time connecting Tennessee to Charleston.  We stopped at the Springs at looked around for awhile but there wasn't much to see.  We continued south on NC 209.  This was truly a great find, a fantastic motorcycle road.  The road starts at an elevation of about 1400 feet in Hot Springs and twists through the small towns of Trust and Luck.  Don't blink or you'll miss these towns.  Just south of these towns at the Haywood and Madison county line the elevation climbs to 4000 feet at Hebo Mountain.  Back down the mountain we rode into Lake Junaluska at an elevation of 2600 feet.  There we caught back up with US 19 and rode through Maggie Valley again toward our destination of Bryson City where we were staying for the night.  We had planned to US 19 into Bryson City but as we came upon the BRP I could not help but to suggest one more stint on the Parkway.  We rode the Parkway to its end stopping twice along the way to soak up as much scenery as possible before we bade farewell to the Parkway until next time.  At US 441 we headed south into Cherokee and its throngs of tourists on the backside of the Great Smokey Mountain National Park.  We went to Bryson City located our motel and unpacked.  It looked like rain so we headed down the street to a local Mexican restaurant to eat dinner.  We went inside with a group of riders from Maryland.  As soon as we got in the door the skies opened up for a brief downpour.  The food was ok and the company was much better as we discussed roads traveled around the area, and across the country.   After dinner we went back to motel, sat on the deck and did what we do best.  We were staying at Riverbend Lodging  Motel on the Tuckasegee River.