Rich Mountain Gap
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Beautiful three day ride to WV, PA, OH (just passing through), VA and ofocurse NC
Original plan was to head from Raleigh NC to Harrisborg WV and take WV33 all the way to Elkins WV. From there head to Flight93 Memorial. I have been there by car and family but wanted to visit it on my bike. From there wanted to visit Palace of Gold in WV and then take US250 and WV16 all the way trough Hawks Nest State Park. From there US60 to Humpback Bridge and then WV311 to Roanoke and back home via back roads. Well that was the plan and we all know how that goes!
Left quite late around 11ish. Was heading from Danville to Lynchburg and noticed Route 43. Seemed pretty interesting so took it. On the way stopped at Leesville lake. I wanted to go to Leesville dam but then ended up at some marina. Nothing great about it. I am sure Leesville dam would be much better. Ofcourse its added to my todo list. From there saw a sign towards Smith Mountain Lake. While I have been around it atleast once, have never actually stopped there. Little did I know that google maps does not point to the correct path for Smith Mountain Lake. After spending an additional hour trying to look for it, realized that the lake approach is actually on the other side of where I was. Not intending to waste any further time, I headed back to 43 towards Harrisonburg via 81. But then I ended up passing Bedford VA and a sign board that stated DDay Memorial. Well – how could I continue? I didn’t have a planned agenda. DDay memorial was awesome. I am so glad I stopped there. It was a $12 entrance fee but worth it! I plan on taking my family some day there. Once I got my historical knowledge updated, started heading towards Harrisonburg.
Reached Harrisburg and had to put on my inner/layers. I was in my summer jacket till then but I knew I was gonna hit some flurries by the time I reach Elkins WV. It was in the forecast since a couple of days now. I carried heated gear but it would be an overkill to connect my heated gear at that time.
And we start WV33 – one of the best roads you can travel on your bike. Atleast 3 amazing passes, Switzer lake, amazing twisties and elevations and beautiful overlooks for pictures and rest. So the first (and last) diversion from 33 was an offroad towards Lake Switzer. Its about a 15 mins gravel ride downhill but extremely pretty. Heres where the first set of flurries started. It wasn’t bad at all. Just some flurries and it was actually making WV33 even prettier. Next halt within 10 mins after reaching WV33 was High Knob Overlook. Then there were a couple more like Judy Gap and Germany Valley overlook and ofcourse Seneca Rocks. I had already been to Spruce Knob and Black Water Falls so did not wanna to visit those again, and I am so glad I did not. By the time I reached Rich Mountain Gap (about 20 miles from Elkins) the snow went all crazy on me. I wont go into the details but you can see from the pictures and videos how bad it was. I somehow managed to make it safely to the Hampton Inn hotel at Elkins. Its owned by my friend Dhiren Patel. It was great catching up with him over dinner and drinks. I was tired but it was a mind blowing experience riding through that mini snow storm
Had to modify my plans to skip Flight93 memorial since I wouldn’t have made it back in time the next day. So took US250 from start to end, all the way to Palace Of Gold. Well, US250 wasn’t impressive at all. Too much commercial trafffic, average road quality and absolutely nothing special. Place of Gold was equally average. Wasn’t impressed at all. I usually like staying at such places because they offer a lot of peace. But I was there by 2pm and would have to sacrifice a lot of other things if I stayed there so continued on. Now starts the most amazing road – WV16!! 16 is mind blowing. Awesome roads, elevations, non stop twisties and very little traffic. I think it goes all the way to Charlotte NC but we have been to the lower part of 16 which is Tazwell and Back of the Dragon. I can tell you this one road gives you everything. Start from Wilkesboro NC and take it all the way to St Marys WV
Stopped at the Y restaurant on WV16 Arnoldsburg WV. Cute little local restaurant in the middle of nowhere. Perfect stop on WV16. It was 6pm by then so took a call to book Hilton at Charleston WV. Headed there, took a shower and went straight to the bar for some dinner and drinks!
Now another mind blowing road is US60. I took it from Charleston all the way to Humpback Bridge. Its is extremely pretty. It does not have as many twisties as WV16 but it is extremely scenic. Small waterfalls (cathedral Waterfall), rivers, lakesand passing through small towns. Loved the ride all the way to Raven State Park where US60 connects to WV16. Raven state Park is pretty to ride through. I took Rt19 towards US60 and passed an amazing bridge called New River Gorge. Saw a vistor center signboard right after and had to stop there! Unplanned but I wasn’t missing on stopping. Walked all the way down and it’s a beautiful site to take some pics. You can see the river down and then the bridge from sightseeing point. Loved it and I am so glad I stopped.
Continued to US60 from there all the way to Humpback Bridge. Nothing special about the bridge. Just like one of ours Pisgah covered bridge. If you are around there, it’s a good place to visit but I wouldn’t travel a hundred miles to specially go there. From here I took 600 and 614 which are offroad/gravel roads all the way to 18 and then joined 311 right at the Swinging Bridge restaurant in Paint Bank. It’s a beautiful little local restaurant in the middle of nowhere and also has a gas station. This is your only option to top up gas on 311. If you haven’t been on 311, its another beautiful route filled with twisties. Once 311 was complete then took some back roads back home.