4 Bucket List Motorcycle Rides in the East

Tricia's favorite roads all riders need to try once!

By Tricia Szulewski, Associate Editor

Our 4 Bucket List Motorcycle Rides in the West article, written by WRN editor Genevieve Schmitt, showcases some incredible scenic rides America has to offer on the left side of the map. I’m lucky to have been able to ride two out of the four, considering my home is on the east coast.

Out here on the right side of the map we’ve got some bucket list rides of our own. Here are my personal favorites to date. Have you ridden these? If not add them to your bucket list.

1. Blue Ridge Parkway – Virginia to North Carolina

4 bucket list motorcycle rides in the east blue ridge parkway motorcyclist
The Blue Ridge Parkway spans the Appalachian Mountains and connects Shenandoah National Parks Skyline Drive in Virginia to Tennessees Great Smoky Mountains. There are hundreds of scenic pull-offs and I could easily spend several days just taking in the breathtaking scenery each one offers.


4 bucket list motorcycle rides in the east blue ridge parkway mountains
It became obvious where the Blue Ridge Parkway got its name on my first day riding it. The mountain vistas on a clear, sunny day offer views of multiple layers of "blue ridges."


4 bucket list motorcycle rides in the east blue ridge parkway road
The non-commercial, two-lane paved road spans 469 miles through Virginia and North Carolina. The maximum posted speed is only 45 mph, which can be difficult to maintain if you like to ride the twisty roads as sporty and quickly as I do.

2. Deals Gap – Tail of the Dragon

4 bucket list motorcycle rides in the east tail of the dragon deals gap
Even before I bought my first motorcycle, I'd heard of the ride that boasts "318 curves in 11 miles." US 129 borders the Great Smoky Mountains and the Cherokee National Forest and truly is as spectacular as everyone says. Riders who love challenging their motorcycle's lean angles absolutely need to "slay the dragon."


4 bucket list motorcycle rides in the east dragon deals gap sign
Everyone who successfully rides the Dragon needs to stop for the famous photo stop in Deals Gap. There you can get a sticker and t-shirt proving you've conquered this renowned road.

3. Kancamagus Scenic Highway to White Mountain Auto Road, New Hampshire

4 bucket list motorcycle rides in the east kancamagus scenic byway

The Kancamagus Scenic Byway (NH Route 112) is about 26 miles and cuts through northern New Hampshires beautiful White Mountain National Forest. The "Kanc" offers fantastic scenery, especially during peak fall foliage time. Photo courtesy of NHDTTD/Ellen Edersheim.


4 bucket list motorcycle rides in the east white mountains tricia honda shadow 750 ace
There aren't many places to pull off the Kanc (Kancamagus Scenic Byway) to get a vista shot with your motorcycle, so grab one when you can. Also good to know, you will need a recreation park pass if you park your motorcycle in the White Mountains National Park at one of the "fee" parking areas, which include many of the trailhead lots and day use facilities. The $3 fee helps cover costs to maintain the sites, and can be purchased online in advance or at the park entrance.


4 bucket list motorcycle rides in the east mount washington auto road
Heading east, when 112 ends, turn left onto Route 113 to ride through Conway, then head north (left) on Route 16. Just past Pinkham Notch, turn left onto Mount Washington Auto Road. This road ascends to the Mount Washington Observatory at 6,288 feet, which is the highest peak in the northeastern United States. The windy, steep, picturesque roadway is recommended for riders who can adapt to instant changes in the weather and are comfortable riding a mile-worth of gravel midway up the mountain. If you conquer this challenge, you can purchase a sticker at the observatory that reads "This motorcycle climbed Mt. Washington," available at stores in the area. The Auto Road costs $16 for a motorcycle and rider, and $8 for a passenger and is open from May to October, pending weather conditions.

4. Park Loop Road, Bar Harbor, Maine


4 bucket list motorcycle rides in the east bar harbor

From Bar Harbor, Maine, on Mount Desert Island, ride from Route 3 and enter Acadia National Park on 27-mile Park Loop Road. For a fee ($20 for a 7-day motorcycle park pass), you can then ride clockwise on the mostly one-way picturesque loop that meanders around lakes, rivers, and woodlands, and opens up to offer views of Maine's coastline.


4 bucket list motorcycle rides in the east cadillac mountain maine
There are plenty of pull-offs along Park Loop Road. Here, I parked and walked an easy pathway that led me to a view of Sand Beach, popular because of its incredible, Caribbean-blue-like water. Being able to stop to hike and swim makes this one of my all-time favorite East Coast rides.


4 bucket list motorcycle rides in the east cadillac mountain maine
Just past Eagle Lake on Park Loop Road, turn right onto Summit Road, which is a twisty 3.5 mile ascent to Cadillac Mountain. At 1,530 feet, this is the highest point on the north Atlantic seaboard, and the first place you can see the sun rise in America!

Now we would love to hear from you! Tell us in the comments section below if you've ridden any of these roads or what your favorite ones are on the east coast.

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4 Bucket List Motorcycle Rides in the West
Motorcycle Riding on the Tail of the Dragon

11 thoughts on 4 Bucket List Motorcycle Rides in the East

  1. I have ridden three out of the four rides. I haven’t done Bar Harbor in Maine, although I have ridden in Maine along the coast. The ride that probably was the most challenging for me was the Beartooth Highway out west in Wyoming. The lack of guardrails, the hairpin turns, and the wide range of temperatures is wild! The Cherahola Skyway is also a great ride that women should check out … it is not far south of the Tail of the Dragon.

  2. I led a group of Canadian friends across the Cherohala Skyway, up Moonshiner 28, then we slayed the Dragon and went over the Foothills Parkway to 321. Much to my surprise their favorite part was riding the top of the ridge on the Foothills Parkway. The Dragon is an awesome road but an acquired taste.

  3. Twelve friends just came back from the best rides of our lives. We (seven bikes) hopped on the Auto Train in Sanford, Florida, and hopped off in Lorton, Virginia. We rode the Skyline, Blue Ridge Parkway, Tail of the Dragon and other small and large roads…all the way back to Homestead Florida. It was amazing! The leaves, the sunrises, the sunsets, the small towns, the friendly smiles, the dropped bikes (we’re from flat Florida after all). It was a trip none of us will ever forget, and we can’t wait for more adventures.

    1. That sounds like an amazing trip! Thank you so much for sharing. What a great idea. The Auto Train. Will have to look into that!

  4. Just road the Park Loop Road in Acadia National Park on Wednesday. Great ride with fall foliage underway! I live very close to Acadia and ride there several times a year. It’s a great ride and Bar Harbor for lunch afterwards! Here’s a pic of me from Wednesday’s ride – October 7, 2015.

  5. Would add a ride on the Cherahola Skyway if you are in the neighborhood of the “Tail of the Dragon”. A fabulous ride!

  6. Would add a ride on the Cherahala Skyway if you are in the neighborhood of the “Tail of the Dragon.” A fabulous ride!

  7. I’ve ridden all the roads on this list — VT and NH more then once. They are definitely roads you need to ride. I would like to add Smugglers Notch in VT. Just got back from there with friends that have never been. Good times. Pic is us crossing lake Champlain on the ferry heading to Lake George!

  8. We did three of the rides featured in this article and loved them all. Can’t agree more that they should be on your bucket list. We never made it as far as Bar Harbor, we opted instead to go inland. We rode the Kancamagus Highway, (near North Conway to Lincoln) on the recommendation of other riders we found in the area and thoroughly enjoyed it. We rented bikes – a BMW and Triumph – in Manhattan, NY, and did a 10-day trip through eight states.Good riding to all.Thanks for a super newsletter.

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