Here in the Upstate of South Carolina and Western North Carolina, we are fortunate to have numerous beautiful waterfalls as well as breathtaking vistas, thanks to the Blue Ridge Escarpment and the Smoky Mountains. Not to mention (but I will), the best motorcycling roads east of the Mississippi River. But the focus of these words is not about the riding, but about the absolutely beautiful natural surroundings we were riding through.
A few Sundays ago, 30 or so motorbikes showed up at our local meet-up to ride the much anticipated Waterfall Tour. After the pre-ride briefing, we broke up into four manageable groups and headed out on the route, two groups clockwise and two counter clockwise (or anti-clockwise for those across the pond). The group I was in with seven other bikes were making our first stop at Twin Falls, here in South Carolina. The ride through the South Carolina countryside was beautiful. My NC700XD rode flawlessly as we made our way to Twin Falls, a waterfall I had yet to see in my twenty years living here.
Our group on the trail to Twin Falls
After traveling on gravel and dirt roads for about a mile, which I (a street only guy) and my NC did with aplomb, I might add, we parked our bikes and took a short hike to the falls overlook. It was a stunning sight!
These falls are off the beaten path. There are no signs, so unless someone told you about them or you read about them somewhere, you would never find them. A true back country find if you were hiking!
Mounting up, we rolled back down gravel and dirt and headed north to cross the state line into North Carolina. Looking Glass Falls sits on the main drag on US276, connecting Greenville, South Carolina with Waynesville, North Carolina. As such, these popular falls become very crowded. Visiting as early as possible is one’s best bet to be in the tranquil setting of nature. We did not, and were not. Beautiful just the same.
Looking Glass Falls
By now it was getting near lunchtime. Leaving Looking Glass Falls, we turned southbound to Brevard, North Carolina, riding through the beautiful Pisgah National Forest. Our lunch venue this day is Hawg Wild BBQ, right at the entrance to the Pisgah.
A very popular place, especially with motorcyclists. Bar-B-Que is the name of the game here, but they also serve up non-BBQ for those that don’t want to eat what used to be this:
Part of our group
The food here is very good, highly recommended if traveling in this area. Good food, good conversation (i.e. no religion or politics), new friends made with a great bunch of men and women with the common passion of motorcycling. We pushed away from the table, suited up, and off we went down the hill towards South Carolina. A more obscure waterfall was on the docket next; Connestee Falls.
Finished with the waterfall sightings, now it was time to look out over the beautiful and stunning vistas that South Carolina has to offer atop the Blue Ridge Escarpment. An escarpment is a geological upheaval of the earths crust. Unlike the formation of a mountains gentle slope, an escarpment, almost literally, juts vertically toward the sky. Riding through the escarpment from South Carolina to North Carolina is a motorcyclists dream. The roads are laid out in multiple, steep switchbacks to accommodate the vertical gain of the escarpment. Going up is fun. Coming back down is Mr. Toads Wild Ride!
Perched atop the Blue Ridge Escarpment is Caesars Head State Park, our next destination. The views from the observation deck are just stunning and absolutely gorgeous.
Caesars Head State Park
It is a very weird feeling standing on the deck and looking down to see hawks flying below you, above the treeline! Whew!
Still heading southbound, now in South Carolina, we pull over and park to take in the view from another popular place. Graffiti Rock.
Actually, it’s real name is Jumping Off Rock. This huge rock formation is called a bald; a rock outcropping in a mountainside.
Rumor has it that there have been a few non-bungy jumps off the end of Jumping Off Rock. Not sure how true that is, but I have seen a few automobiles that have crash landed at the bottom of the bald. Jumps not withstanding, the view is beautiful.
One final scenic stop before rolling back into the city awaits us. A small waterfall and a popular swimming hole, right by the side of the road:
After a rain, the small waterfall turns into a torrent of raging water, but not for us today. Still beautiful, and a great place to cool off after a long day in the saddle.
The riding was great, the group was wonderful, and the natural beauty of our corner of the world was the main event.