Terrie and I try to gauge the peak fall colors coincident with fine riding weather to take an annual tour through the Blue Ridge and surrounding Appalachian country. Some years we get glorious riding conditions with excellent color and some years we just can't get the weather to cooperate. This year the weather was grand but the colors were only so-so. Its hard to get it just right. Not to say however, that we didn't find great color but much of the ride was mostly green. We started by leaving Raleigh and heading up US-501 through Lynchburg to its junction with the Blue Ridge Parkway and from there we rode north to VA-56 exited west and rode less than a mile to our lodging for the night at the Sugar Tree Inn in Vesuvius, VA.
Our digs for the night:
Our original plan for the next day's ride was to continue down the western slope of the Blue Ridge, stop at the Cyrus McCormick farm to view the original farm buildings and workshop museum where Cyrus developed the original McCormick reaper and from there work our way to VA-42 and ride it southwest to its junction with US-52 and from there to our next night's lodging in Wytheville, VA. Best laid plans often go awry and ours took a hit right away. Virginia DOT had decided to repave VA-56 from the parkway to its junction with US-11 in the Shenandoah valley and the road was strewn with piles of loose gravel as the type of paving being used was hot tar spread with loose gravel. VA-56 in the best of conditions can be a tough ride but under these conditions its was absolutely treacherous. So we headed back to the BRP and headed north, worked our way around Waynesville and hooked up with VA-42 much further north than originally planned. This added about an hour and a half to our original route but it was a great ride. After lunch in Clifton Forge we stopped at the Roaring Run recreational area in Eagle Rock, VA for a stroll through the fall woods on a path built along Roaring Run.
Enjoy the hike:
I know you're wondering why the state of Virginia would create a recreational area along this particular creek when there are so many in the Virginia mountains to choose from, well there is some historical significance to this particular stretch of waterway.
In the 1840s a furnace or iron smelter was built on this creek, or run, because located at this spot was everything needed to smelt iron, water to construct a water wheel to run the furnace's bellows, wood to make charcoal to heat the furnace, limestone to remove impurities from the ore during the smelting process and finally iron ore.
The next day we left our hotel in Wytheville and rode about an hour and fifteen minutes to Mabry Mill located on the BRP for some of their world famous buckwheat pancakes. http://www.mabrymillrestaurant.com/
After breakfast we headed south on the BRP looking for that magical spot where the leaves were in peak color. Along the way we stopped for a quick stroll around a lovely pond at one of the BRP's many overlooks.
Counter intuitively as we traveled south we began to run into more and more color, it seemed to help we were also rising in elevation. Once we rode above 3000ft we began to see peak fall color.
For some reason Terrie really liked this crooked tree.
At our last stop on the BRP before descending to our lodging in Lake Lure, NC we hit the jackpot. Above 4000ft elevation the colors were just gorgeous.
The next day we rode home following route 9 through South Carolina to its junction with US-1 and north to Raleigh.