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Kentucky Coal Dust

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Ride Stats:

  • Distance: 1250 miles / 2011.7 km
  • Ride Time: 3 days
  • Approximate Fuel Costs: $95.00
  • States Visited: Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee
Submitted by:
troy30455 pro

The name for this route comes from an inside joke this group of riders had. You see, one of the planned loop rides was 'The Devils Triangle'. When the locals would ask where we were heading, they'd all say don't go during the week days because of the coal trucks on the road. SO.... we elected to head over and ride 'The Witchs Knuckle'. This route is straddle the Tennessee, Kentucky state line. No sooner had we got on the loop than we passed a coal mine. This was in Kentucky. The coal trucks came next. It wasn't to bad, but we and our bikes got COAL DUSTED!!!! We laughed later about not thinking about Kentucky and coal mines before heading to this route.

Normally I plan ride trips to the mountains for a group of riders here in south Georgia. This time I was invited by my nephew and his friends from South Carolina to join them. I accepted looking forward to just following the planned routes the group had in mind.
From my home I headed over to US301 north. Following it north until I reached Orangeburg, SC. At the junction of US301 and I-26 is where I meet the group. From here we followed I-26 west to Asheville, NC. Now I normally stay off the super slub, but I understand time restrictions. We wanted to get up to the hills to enjoy the curves.
At Asheville we got on US19/74 making a stop for lunch in Weaverville, NC.

We followed US19/74 north then turned onto US25west toward Hot Springs, NC. The small town is famous for it's hot minerial springs. Suppose to fix what ails ya! We continued on US25 crossing into Tenneesse near Newport.
The pavement and road markings were all good as well as the availabilty of fuel stops.
We stayed in the throttle, riding thru Baneberry, White Pine and Morristown.
Outside of Morristown we began to ride near the shore line of Lake Cherokee. I noticed it was very low, like 10 to 12 feet down. Our leader decided it was time for a stop about here and pulled over. We stopped near a steel bridge across the lake. The parking lot was that of a biker bar! It had just opened for the evening. The owner informed us the lake level was being dropped as a annual flood control program for the winter.

Lake Cherokee in Tenn.

Front of the biker bar.

The owner of the bar said the hiway was being four laned here and his place would be gone. But they are going to leave the steel bridge and build new on either side!
After a break we mounted our rides and headed off toward Bean Station, Tenn and on to Oak Ridge, Tenn for our first night. Oak Ridge has plenty of motel rooms and places to eat. Did you know this is where the Manhatten Project started the countrys nuclear age?

We stayed at the Jameson Inn in Oak Ridge the first night. Very clean and nice rooms. The staff was great. They provide a continental breakfast, so our group ate before mounting the bikes.
Our arrangement had us meeting in Oliver Springs with some other riders that were to join our group. Oliver Springs is just five miles away. We all fueled up and left Oliver Springs on Tn 330/Tn116 toward Briceville, Fraterville and Lake City. We were bypassing The Devils Triangle to miss the coal trucks. We were heading to the Cumberling Gap and enter Kentucky to ride The Witches Knuckle.

Riding outside La Follette,Tn heading toward Kentucky.

In Lake City we picked up US25 west heading for La Follette, Tn. In La Follette we picked up Tn63 to Harrogate,Tn. This very close to Tenn, Virginia, Kentucky border. We stopped in Harrogate for a break and fuel.
We crossed the border into Kentucky going through the tunnel at Cumberland Gap. We exited the tunnel in Middlesboro, Kentucky turning west in town onto state road 74. This is the bottom half of The Witches Knuckle. We had not gotton out of town good before we passed the entrance to a coal mine. The large dump trucks had a dirt/dust trail on the pavement here. It runs out after about a half mile. The pavement is cracked up but not in terrible shape. The curves you came to ride start just past the mine. We would meet 2 or 3 coal trucks at the time on the road. Some even slowed or stopped before a corner to allow us to pass! There are many entry points along this road that the coal trucks use. So you have to contend with the Kentucky Coal Dust. It's gonna get you and your ride nasty.

The weather was cool enough for us to wear leathers. So all of that had the dust as well. We stirred up a cloud with 12 bikes in a row coming through. We stayed on state 74 back to the Tennessee state line. The road becomes Tn90 here passing through the small communities of Clairfield, Eagan and Morley Tn. We turned onto US25w at Morley heading toward Jellico,Tn. There is no fuel stops between Middlesboro, Ky and Jellico, Tn.

We traveled back into Kentucky following US25w/Kn9 to near Williamsburg. We were on a mission to circle around and ride the top half of The Witches Knuckle. We turned east in Williamsburg toward Pineville, Ky on Ky92. We stopped in Pineville for fuel and food at about 3:30 p.m. at a Shell/Arby's combo store.
After filling up we headed out on Ky190 which runs in and out of the Kentucky Ridge State Forest. This route takes you on the top part of The Witches Knuckle.
Ky190 runs through Frakes and Laurel Fork, Ky before re-entering Tennessee and making a junction with Tn90. We turned right on Tn90 retracing our earlier pass back to US25W at Morely,Tn We turned left this time on US25W toward Habersham and Lafollette, TN. In Lafollette we connected with Tn63 and turned toward Lake City, Tn to find a room for the night.

Taking a break waiting on missing riders to catch up...

Now Lake City is nothing to write home about. about 2-3 motels a couple gas stations and resturants near intersection on I-75. The rooms at $40.00 a night was just that...about $40 worth. There was a Mexican Grill across the parking lot that turned out to be good!

Group parked at motel in Lake City,Tn

At the mexican grill in Lake City,Tn.

Well, we made it to Saturday morning. Our plans for the days in general was to ride The Devils Triangle. From there we were to loop our way back to south eastern Tenn or western North Carolina. This was to cut down on last day mileage going home.
We left Lake City going south on state Tn116. This makes a junction with TN330 which we had traveled the day before going north. We turn and continue on Tn116 The Devils Triangle.
The road narrows up and the curves and up hill ride starts. The pavement is fair with some pot holes and broken pavement. But if you are not over driving the road, it can be riden with enough quick pace to keep your excitment level up. The road has an assortment of sharpe corners with little shoulders to short burst straights. there are a couple switchbacks that define the word switchback. On this ride these were uphill!! It was a combo of brake, gear and clutch to make these rascals!! Some in our group found them difficult... The group got spread out according to each riders expericence level. Those of us in the lead pack pulled over at the Brushy Mountain State Prison to wait on the riders to regroup. The prison in Petros,Tn housed James Earl Ray. It is closed now but still has a guard at the gate 24/7. We stopped just down from the prison after regrouping to take a break in Petros.


Riding out of the Petros,Tn area.

Note the fluid on the ground in the picture. This is automatic transmission fluid. We ran up on it up in the twisty before the state prison. Evryone made it through. We did have a couple report minor slips in it.
On from Petros we rode. On to Tn62 and Wartburg,Tn. Just past Wartburg we turned left onto Tn298 following it toward Crossville,Tn. We stopped here just after crossing I-40 for gas and a break. This portion of the ride is in the Cumberlin Plateau region. Very flat roads, no excitment what so ever!!! We picked up US127, Tn68, Tn28 in Crossville. This ride toward Spring City actually rose in elevation. We found an overlook out over the plateau.

Overlooking the Cumberlin Plateau near Spring City,Tn.

After passing through Spring City we crossed Watts Barr Dam a TVA project for Hydro power generation. Turning onto Tn305 a mile after crossing the dam put us on track for Athens,Tn. Our thought and conversation had us tryn to make Robbinsinville, NC via The Dragon for the night. We stopped in Athens for a break and a snack. We discussed lunch options. We wanted to get closer to The Dragon so we continued out of Athens on TN307. Tn307 joins US411 and we rode it through Vonore on to the junction with Tn72. Tn72 is a cut through to US129 and comes out at Punkin Corner. We stopped here for lunch at The Dragon Pitt Inn and Bar B Que. It was at the Dragon Pitt that I found this (the below)on the wall of the mens room.

After a good break and late lunch we headed out on US129 for our attempt at taming The Dragon. I did warn the group of LEO being in the area but that there was plenty of good riding on our cruisers. We agreed to pace as individuals and meet at Deal's Gap store. We had a good ride across with the exception of one rider. He had some bolts fall out of his floor board and shifter bracket. he was stuck in 2nd gear over much of The Dragon. Got him fixed up at the store. We did spend more time than planned at the store to make the repairs. by the time we arrived in Robbinsville it was getting dusk. We stopped and checked a couple places in town. All were booked for the night!! I remembered the name of an Inn in Andrews, NC about 25-30 miles away. We called and they had the five rooms we needed for the night. So staying on US129 we continued on through Topton,NC then on into Andrews.
A VERY friendly clerk at the front desk helped get us signed in and helped us find a good resturant for the supper meal. We always try to find Mom and Pop resturants if possible. In this case we did. They served the whole varation from chicken fingers to ribeye steaks. In between....catfish platters. They were just about to close when She called from the motel. They said if we came on they would wait on us.
We enjoyed a very good final night supper together watching college football on TV. After our meal we went back to the motel where we were granted the ok to park the bikes under the front canopy. just need to ask!
So far on this trip, we had worn leathers up til Saturday afternoon while in the 'flat lands'. Saturday night we left Robbinsville with them on. Now on Sunday Morning at 8am it was 52 degrees and foggy. We again put on the leather. it is nice to have them. and don't plan a ride in high country with em! Well Sundays ride was gonna be in the 300 mile range for everyone. I was the only rider from Georgia. everyone else was from South Carolina and from Myrtle Beach to Charleston.
We left the hotel going south on US129, turning left on NC141 for a quick jump over to US64 east. We followed US64 to the junction with NC69. NC69 goes south here a few miles before crossing into Georgia and becoming Ga17. We followed Ga17 south to US76. Turning east we rode US76 along the shoreline of Chatuge Lake and into Hiawassee,Ga. Here we ate breakfast at a fast food.

Mounting up after breakfast in Hiawassee.

We stayed on US76 east toward Clayton, Ga. In Clayton we stopped to fuel up and covered on the map the direction we were heading. We were leaving Clayton on Warwoman Road. this road connects with state hiway28. While Warwoman Road is a nice ride through the country side and has a few twisty curves and some hills, it is only the last two miles that challenge you. But hiway 28 has what I call the last of the curves, twist and hills before you drop off to the flat lands and .........home. Highway 28 runs in North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina. Our ride pops us out onto 28 at Pine Mountain, just a couple miles north of the border between Georgia and South Carolina. We ride through Mountain Rest,SC on into Walhalla,SC. Here we pull over for a break and to say our goodbyes. After about another 12 miles down SC11 we would split up. SC11 southwest of Wahalla
parellels the Savannah River and Lake Hartwell. it ends at I-85. I turn west on I-85 for a six mile ride into Georgia. The rest of the group....Interstate riding to near their home towns.

The group on SC11. The last leg together!!

Once into Georgia at Lavonia, I take Ga17 south to my home town. Those of you that have read my post on my mountain trips know this route as good as I do!!
Another great ride! Meet new friends! No major problems. About 1200+ miles and 4 states. Until the next ride, keep the rubber side down!

This is a motorcycle ride in the states Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee. This motorcycle route has 10 scenery characteristics and other road conditions to help you plan your road trip. This motorcycle map was created by troy30455 in December. Click here to see other Motorcycle Roads by troy30455

Rider Photos:

  • Motorcycle Ride Picture 1 for Kentucky Coal Dust
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  • Motorcycle Ride Picture 21 for Kentucky Coal Dust
  • Motorcycle Ride Picture 22 for Kentucky Coal Dust

Ride Scenery:

Historic SitesUrban/ResidentialParksLakesForestMountainsRuralRiverFarm LandPlains

Best Time to Go

Spring, Fall

Road Characteristics:

Straight RoadSweeping Curves RoadTwisty RoadHillyLight TrafficAverageAdequate Gas StationsAdequate

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Previous Comments from other Riders:

bulldawg says:

Also Georgia boy, great write up, enjoyed it very much.
Wed Jun 15, 2016 at 3:35 PM

train03 says:

I was on this ride i left from Pawleys Island, SC and total of 1850 miles and it was awesome did all on 03 night train and ready to go back soon real soon... ride alot sc, nc, tn, ky, va, md, pa, nj, del... More to come...
Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 7:05 PM

Anonymous_Motorcyclist says:

looks like some good planning and follow thru on this adventure. i've ridden some of these roads and i'd rate them high. that newport tn. section of this route is on my to do list, there's some biker campground up that way, (bobarosa) i wanna check out.
Fri Jan 11, 2013 at 9:10 AM

BobMyers says:

Great Writing, I too have covered almost all of this, the only exception being from Travellers Rest south. And never all in one trip! Your description of roads and stops are spot on for what I remember, with my favorite part being going up Brushy Mount the other way(prison on left as you pass), and back around into Oak Ridge. Just personal preference, allows better view off the mountain side without crossing traffic to stop and enjoy
Fri Jan 11, 2013 at 9:10 AM

felon says:

Troy, nice write up on your trip! I felt like I was riding along with you! Best part about it is looks like everyone had fun!!
Fri Jan 11, 2013 at 9:10 AM

OpenRoadRider says:

Awesome write up. I've done some of these roads and enjoyed them as well.
Fri Jan 11, 2013 at 9:09 AM

thatdude says:

would be a 5 star but i know for a fact I-26 from orangeburg to asheville sucks. everything else is grade A. good job on the write up and good pics as well
Fri Jan 11, 2013 at 9:09 AM

troy30455 says:

Thanks felon. I enjoy writing up adventures had when out riding! To me, this is what this website was built for!!

Fri Jan 11, 2013 at 9:09 AM


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