Skyline Drive & Southern WV

7-1-14
Skyline Drive & Southern WV
1,260 Miles
 

   My Friend Alan and I took another bike trip this year to Skyline Drive and the Southern end of West Virginia.
You can also read about our trip from last year to Tail of the Dragon.
This year Alan planned the trip mainly around hitting alot of West Virginia’s state parks. He is part of a program that  you get a stamp at each park you visit until you reach a goal of a certain number. But over the couple weeks of planning, we seemed to add more and more stops and ended up with a 4 day trip planned.
The bike I used for this trip is the same I used on the Tail of the Dragon trip. A 2009 Suzuki Vstrom DL650. I really cant complain about this bike at all, its really been a great bike for these trips. I have it outfitted with pelican cases for lots of storage, highway pegs, aftermarket seat, etc. I have alittle over 6,200 miles on the bike now and can see me putting many more on it. Each trip reveals small things I would like to change or add to the bike to make these trips even more pleasurable. My average for the trip was 62.2mpg. $81.74 spent on fuel for a 1,260 mile trip, with 75 lbs. of gear on the bike, cant complain about that.
Photos from the trip can be seen here…
http://jtice.smugmug.com/Motorcycles/Motorcycle-Rides/Skyline-Drive-Southern-WV

GPS Trip Log of Complete Ride

GPS Trip Log for Day 1

GPS Trip Log for Day 2

GPS Trip Log for Day 3

GPS Trip Log for Day 4

Here is a list of the places we visited.
Skyline Drive
Lost World Caverns
BlueStone Dam
Pipestem State Park
Pinnacle Rock State Park
Twin Falls State Park
Panther Wildlife Management Area
Cheif Logan State Park
Cabwaylingo State Forest
Beech Fork State Park
Kanawha Falls
Hawks Nest State Park
Babcock State Park
Beartown State Park
Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park
Green Bank National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Cass Railroad
Day 1
281 Miles – 12 Hours
   Almost all of the first day of our trip was needed just to do the Skyline Drive. It is just over 100 miles long, but with a speed limit of 35mph and making frequent stops at alot of its 67 scenic overlooks, it took us around 6 hours to complete. The road itself can me fairly curvy in places, so it make it a fun ride even at a slow 35mph. Its nice though to be able to casually go at a slow pace so you can take in all the sites and not worry about someone riding your ass. Since we were there on a tuesday traffic was not bad at all.
The overlooks certainly had some fantastic views, though there was a good bit of haze in the air so it limited just how far you could see. I would love to go back sometime in the fall with the leaves changing colors, and the cooler temps should have a bit less haze. I think you would also be able to see a good bit more without all the leaves on the trees. For the most part, your view is obstructed by trees unless you are at one of the overlooks.
We even saw bear on 3 different occasions. The last one being only several feet off the road. I never got any great photos of them though, the first two were in too thick of woods and the second walked off into the woods before I got a good shot of him. Was still a cool experience.
The day ended with us staying in a hotel in Staunton, VA.

Day 2
314 Miles – 12 Hours
Day 2 started out riding through Warm Springs and White Sulfur Springs. These were some great very twisty roads that were a blast on the bike. Actually almost all the roads we hit on this entire trip were fantastic fun on the bike. Lots and lots of curves and for the most part the pavement was excellent.
Our first main stop of the day was Lost World Caverns. I have done some caving over the years, and have always taken photos in them, but had never been to one that had lighting setup inside. So this was alot of fun for me to experiment taking photos in a cave with this much lighting. The cave is easy to walk through, having provided walkways and steps throughout it. We were here about 2 hours, I could have spent all day there, but we had plenty more places to see.
Alot of the things we saw I cant even remember where they were, I am lucky to remember what day we saw them.
One of the things we saw on day two was an odd rock face along the side of the road. It looked like layers of rock that were heaved up in the middle somehow. You know alot of this sort of thing takes place under the surface where you cant easily see it, so it was neat to see it exposed like this.
Another stop along the way was Bluestone Dam. Its a fairly large dam and was apparently a very popular fishing spot. There were even a couple guys standing way out in the water right in front of the dam fishing.
Next we stopped at Bluestone Park and Pipstem Park, and Pinnicale Rock. This is when we encounted our only rain of the trip. We had about a half hour or so of rain before we got to Pinnicale Rock. We were quite lucky this trip with the weather. We had beautiful skies most of the trip, even riding into some colorful sunsets.
The last stop of the day was at Twin Falls Park where we would spend the night camping in a tent we had packed on our bikes. I stayed up for alittle while taking a few long exposure night shots of the stars.

Day 3
340 Miles – 12.5 Hours
After packing up the tent and the rest of our camping gear, we headed off to our first stop of the day at Panther Wildlife Management Area. This park was out in the middle of no where, out a narrow winding road that even once you were officially in the park boundary, had several homes you passed by. This was quite odd to have so many homes within a park, and quite frankly, I was waiting to hear the bango music. From there it was on to Chief Logan State Park. Both were quick stops so Alan could get his stamp, but both were worth seeing. Chief Logan was at least on a main section of road that we could make a loop out of.
From there we put in quite a few miles until we reached Cabwaylingo State Park. Then to Beech Fork State Park. This park seems to be very nice and one of the largest we stopped at, but apparently we came in the back way on a very twisty, very bumpy road that we couldnt wait to get off of. The road out the other end of the park, thankfully,  was much nicer.
From there is was time to put in the miles, up to Huntington, WV, and through Charleston, WV. on our way to Hawks Nest State Park. We stopped along the way at Kanawha Falls on the river, which was nice set of falls all the way across the river with an old brick building built pretty much in the river beside the bank.
Hawks nest State Park has a fantastic overlook that is definitely worth seeing. It over looks a large bend in the Kanawha River that has a bridge at one end and a dam at the other.
The third night was also supposed to be spent camping, but both of us agreed that we would rather just get a hotel for the night and get a good night rest. An actual bed sure helps releave the pains from riding all day.

Day 4
327 Miles – 14.5 Hours
Got an early start this morning for our last day of the trip.
The first stop of the day was Babcock State Park. I thought this park was really cool just because of the cut stone structures it has. There is a large stone wall on one side of the stream, with an old wooden building with a water wheel on it. The other side of the stream has a stone building with stone walls and walkways. Its a very picturestic spot for sure, since you can take photos of the falls with the old building in the background.
Then on to Beartown State Park which we stopped at and hiked the trails there. They arent really trails though, Beartown is a unique park because is has wooden walkways built into the woods that take you over, around, and through a large section of rocks that are covered in moss and ferns. Its another must see place that was on our trip, its a really neat and different way of being able to traverse the terrain and see the rocks up close. I was pretty disappointed once I got home though, and saw that I must have had a setting wrong on my camera, making most of the photos I took there very out of focus. Even the ones I choose to upload were not very good. Oh well, an excuse to go back some time.
Next was Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park. Which was a site of a major civil war battle with I beleave over 400 solders lost their lives. There are a few old buildings here, a mass grave, a canon, and a museum with many artifacts found at the location such as canon balls, muskets, swords, etc.
From there we rode up through Seneca State Forest to Green Bank, where the National Radio Astronomy Observatory is. This was one of the highlights of the trip for me, I have always enjoyed science, especially space exploration. We took an hour tour of the facility which was very informative about the equipment there and what all it had discovered. I was not aware that it was such an advanced system responsible for so many large discoveries. Its definately worth checking out if you are into this sort of thing. The only down side to me is that it is considered a quite zone, meaning that they restrict alot of electronic usage so that there is no interference with the equipment they use. That means no photos, no cell ones, nothing. You cant even get cell phone signal anywhere near this place due to there being no cell phone towers for this very reason. Residents tha live near the facility cant even have microwaves, wifi routers, radio transmitters and other devices that could send out interference. What few photos I was allowed to take were from the visitor center, which was 1.5 miles from the main radio telescope, the GBT.
The GBT is the largest of its kind at 110 meters across, and since is can pivot and change its angle it is also considered the largest moving object on land. It is truely massive, photos do not do it justice.
The next, and last stop on our trip was Cass Railroad. We knew we would not have time to take one of the train rides up the mountain, but we wanted to at least check the place out. There were no operational trains out on the track when we arrived, but there was at least one that was there just for display.
This would end up being our longest day at about 14.5 hours. We got home alittle after dark, I rolled into town just in time to see the 4th of July fireworks on my last few minutes of the ride. All in all it was a fantastic trip with some really great twisty roads. We put in alot of miles and alot of hours, but it was all worth it.

A big thanks to Alan for planning most of this trip, looking up hotel and park information. Plus being the navigator for most of the trip. I will trust his directions over a GPS any day.

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