Author Topic: Alternative Routes to Blue Ridge Parkway in VA and NC  (Read 4976 times)

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Offline cabell

Alternative Routes to Blue Ridge Parkway in VA and NC
« on: July 08, 2010, 01:29:31 pm »
Friend and I are planning a trip from Charlottesville, Va to either Boone or Asheville NC. we know very little about the elevation gains on the parkway and are wondering if folks knew which sections are the most challenging and might have suggestions for county roads to take, particularly from Floyd, VA to Asheville. Any suggestions you can offer would be helpful.

Offline litespeed

Re: Alternative Routes to Blue Ridge Parkway in VA and NC
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2010, 11:05:46 am »
Here are a few pointers: Virginia is one of the few states that doesn't put paved shoulders on their major highways so if there is heavy traffic it's best to stick to back roads. US58 west of Galax is a beautiful road - very scenic and pretty with almost no traffic - but brutally hilly with short, steep climbs and descents. I rode 221 between Independence and Roanoke (with a detour to ride some of the Blue Ridge) many years ago and don't recall any problems. US29 between Charlottesville and Lynchburg is forbidden to bicycles - as it should be (gravel shoulders).
« Last Edit: July 10, 2010, 02:35:14 pm by litespeed »

Offline pwantzel

Re: Alternative Routes to Blue Ridge Parkway in VA and NC
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2010, 01:38:57 pm »
The Blue Ridge Parkway is beautiful.  Traffic is mostly fairly light, and (commercial) trucks are prohibited.  I would definitely recommend it over other roads.  Much easier to navigate too, as it is one continuous road.  Although there are long grades in many places, most are not extremely steep (IMO; I don't know your level of fitness).  I believe elevation profiles are posted online - don't have a link though.  You can check yourself by making a route on Gmap Pedometer which will create an elevation profile for you.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2010, 02:37:17 pm by pwantzel »

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Alternative Routes to Blue Ridge Parkway in VA and NC
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2010, 11:52:07 am »
First, check out if you're willing to stay on the Parkway.

There aren't a lot of good parallel routes for a fair bit of North Carolina, IMHO.  Around Boone, for example, stay on the BRP from Deep Gap to Linville, if possible.  There are local roads, but the ones paralleling the Parkway typically have no shoulders and heavy, high speed traffic.  U.S. 221 traffic from Linville to Linville Falls is variable, and it's scenic, but it's narrow and winding -- no good sight lines.

Likewise, from NC 80 to Asheville, I'd stay on the BRP.  There's no good, close parallel.  I-40 has to climb over the Blue Ridge, and swallows up U.S. 70 on the south.  Don't know if the opening of I-26 has helped U.S. 19 on the north, which used to be narrow, winding, and heavily trafficed.

There's some local clubs and riders in Asheville who might be able to help with alternate approaches, if you're intent on getting off the BRP.  But for my tastes, it's a beautiful ride from Little Switzerland up toward Mt. Mitchell, and a heck of a downhill from there!  Just make sure you have lights, as there are tunnels from Little Switzerland all the way down to Cherokee.

Offline Julie

Re: Alternative Routes to Blue Ridge Parkway in VA and NC
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2010, 08:44:55 am »
I recently rode from my home in Black Mountain (east of Asheville) to Roanoke. I primarily traveled on the parkway. I chose to get on the parkway from HWY 80 rather than from the Asheville area. I did this for two reasons. 1. It was shorter from Black Mountain. 2. There is construction on the parkway around Craggy Gardens and I have heard the road surface there is poor. The grades on the parkway through this section are not bad. There are some fairly steep grades, but none that last too long. The route between Black Mountain and the parkway via 80 is pretty nice. There is a greenway from outside Old Fort going up Old Fort Mountain into Black Mountain which has a gentle grade. Highway 80 is a one of the lesser traveled routes off the parkway. It's a blast going down, not so much going up on a loaded bike. A little advice: don't count too heavily on food services right on the parkway. The selection at camp stores at the campgrounds was very limited. Better to get off at towns just off the parkway for groceries. It's a beautiful ride. Get water at all opportunities. It's hot out there this time of year.