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Boone NC Route advice

Old 06-13-12, 01:33 PM
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thagoat
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Boone NC Route advice

Hello fellow two wheelers,
I have a wedding I'm attending in October. I heard Boone NC is beautiful. As I'm always looking for ways to end up on my bike, I was thinking about flying out early and getting a between 3-5 days of riding in ahead of time.

I'm wondering if any of you have every been in the area, know if it's even worth doing, and if so, where should or shouldn't I go?

Thanks in advance,
Tim
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Old 06-14-12, 08:44 AM
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The city of Boone itself is not particularly remarkable IMO. 3 hrs drive SW is Asheville, a little better than Boone, partly due to the impressive Biltmore House, worth seeing.

October is fall "leaf" season in NC/TN/VA mtns, 2nd-3rd weeks receive peak tourism visits, along the BR Parkway, Boone, Blowing Rock, etc. You're visiting at perhaps the worst time due to high traffic. If your idea of nice riding is mixing it up with thousands of distracted motorists and RVs on a shoulderless, narrow, winding 45mph road, then head for the Parkway on a weekend from Oct 7-Nov 1.

US321 is a major corridor for traffic from the east, and most of the population of NC, so Boone/Blowing Rock always has more traffic than surrounding area, and October is the worst. BR Parkway traffic thins out as you get way from B/BR, then picks back up near Asheville, thins out again until another huge crush of traffic at Cherokee/Gatlinburg.

If you head out on the Parkway early in the AM on a weekday, even in "leaf" season, it's not too bad. Beware that cycling on the BRP means you're climbing ~90% of the time - the climb takes 30 mins, the descent takes 5, etc. The BRP is relatively flat around Boone and NE of Boone. The Viaduct section between 321 and Grandfather entrance is especially pretty, and especially crowded.

If you google you'll discover Boone does have shop and club rides with routes mapped. They tend to ride little back roads you're unlikely to discover in a short visit, naturally. I suspect there are some good rides generally North of Boone on little winding roads.

If you're a hiker, I can recommend the Grandfather Trail, which traverses Gfather mtn, 6.5 miles/ 5 hrs. Most tourists never leave the pavement so this trail will not be too crowded even then. Very nice views from this trail, take a camera. It's easier starting at the Swinging Bridge parking lot end (saves 1700' climb), and if someone can shuttle you up and drop you off, then they'll refund your entrance fee at the bottom gate, so it'll be free instead of $15 a head or whatever. Be sure to tell them what you're doing when you enter. Trail ends on the Parkway.
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Old 06-14-12, 01:57 PM
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Seeker pretty well nailed it. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a great place to ride when it's not loaded with cars, but unfortunately October is the worst time of the year for traffic there. Weekdays might be tolerable if you get going early in the morning. Make sure your bike has headlights and taillights because there are tunnels along the BPR and the National Park Service requires lights.
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Old 06-15-12, 09:37 AM
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Not clear if you're talking about a hub-and-spoke kind of riding, or a tour (say from Roanoke or Asheville) into Boone. If you're planning to ride into Boone on the Blue Ridge Parkway, I'd suggest you add a least one extra weekday to allow for rain/fog/clouds (sit that day out). Avoid Asheville (25 on the south to the last entrance climbing up to Craggy), and Roanoke (340 down to 221) except on weekdays between 9:00 and 2:30. Too many people use it as a commute route. Same for the stretch from 421 east of Boone to the second exit west (south) of Blowing Rock.

On a hub-and-spolke, I'd say you could enjoy some good riding on the BRP by driving down to Price Park and see how far south you can ride and still get back by 3:00 (when the high-schoolers and college kids get out / wake up). From Price Park down to Craggy Gardens you'll only have the dedicated leaf-watchers on the road.

There are some pretty good climbs available if you want to do hill training. Shulls Mill Rd. comes to mind, and the Sugar and Beech Mtn. climbs are challenging and pretty. The road from Beech down to Elk Park is narrow, winding, beautiful, and has only local traffic. But you couldn't pay me to ride a bicycle down there from Boone!
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