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GA, Woodstock: Cherohala Skyway Ride

May 15, 2010 - May 15, 2010

Host Church: Timothy Lutheran Church

Click the images below for larger photos.

Cherohala Skyway Ride The forecast for Santeetlah, North Carolina was ominous, "thunderstorms, some severe, likely for the afternoon", causing us (Jim, Frank, Steve, Dennis, Tad, and the two Bobs) to flip over our planned itinerary and get to the mountains as quickly as possible and save the Ocoee excursion for the way home, if weather permitted.

We took the two lane back-way to Blue Ridge, a far more scenic way than the slab, with many interesting side attractions, that on this trip included a seven-bike passing of a smoking diesel and a young deer reacting like a squirrel to the passing thunder.

After a pit stop at Copperhill's Hardee we cruised up Tn 68 (nice road) to Tellico Plains where we made a stop at the Cherohala Skyway Visitor Center for maps and T shirts. So far we were in luck. Clouds were forming but the (hot) sun prevailed.

After gassing up we followed the Tellico River for a while, then started to climb up the Skyway, from the river's 950 feet elevation, up, up and up. By Turkey Creek we were over 2500'; Brushy Ridge over 3,700', finally breaking 4,000' at Rattlesnake Rock. Taking no breather we continued to climb around the many curves in the road passing 5,390' at Santeetlah to stop at Hooper Bald,

(scroll down), take a rest, and hike up to 5,413' level in search of the mysterious Spanish Rock (we didn't find it) and signs of the "Wild Boar Farm" that was there in the twenties (didn't find that either). Honest guys, I read it here: (then scroll down).

The skies were darkening but after the rest (yeah right) we took off to the eastern end of the Skyway at Santeetlah Gap (2,660') to turn around and start back up the mountain toward Tellico Plains. We stopped for the obligatory group photo at the road's high point, then on to Bald River Falls, truly a don't-miss attraction, not only the falls but the Forest Service road leading there that runs just feet away from the quick flowing river with its rapids and pools (like in bygone days).

By this time (2 p.m.) we were all HUNGRY, so off to the somewhat famous Tellico Beach hamburger place, outdoors on the river, for a Beachburger, fries, and a coke. I don't know if their food is really as good as it tasted but it always tastes great after a day of riding. While there we heard the first of the promised thunder and felt a few drops of rain. By 3:30 p.m. we were on our way home (Bob K. left earlier to make a 5 o'clock commitment). Because of the impending deluge we scrubbed the Ocoee way and headed directly for Blue Ridge and hwy 515. We didn't get far before the rain came down, then stopped, then down again. On the two lane Tn 68 we dropped our speed and watched our step around tree covered curves (slippery you know). Actually riding in the rain can be pleasant, if you slow down and are not pushed by traffic. Not so when we got on Ga 515 (aka 575). Too many cars and trucks, too much splash up from their four or more wheels, and the persistent feeling that maybe they don't see us through their fogged up windshield. Two lane roads rule.

The best pictures from the Cherohala Skyway Visitor Center, the high point at Santeetlah Gap, and Bald River Falls are attached.

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