City Escape: Roanoke, Virginia

Text: Chris Myers • Photography: Chris Myers

This Star City roundabout is a City Escape with an attitude. Seriously folks, only dual sports need apply. The first 40 miles on the Blue Ridge Parkway are perfect to relax and shake off the morning kinks. Once you drop off the mountain on Route 812 at the Sunset Field Overlook (Milepost 78.4) it’s game-on. Expect plenty of imperfect pavement, gravel, dirt, and even a few stream crossings.

Length

Approximately 235 miles

Meet-up Spot

The Texas Tavern, 114 Church Ave SW, Roanoke, VA

Lunch Stop 

Follow the tastily twisty Highway 311 to the Swinging Bridge Restaurant, inside the Paint Bank General Store. Find it on Route 311 north in Paint Bank, on the left. 

Scenery (4 out of 5) 

While the ride is beautiful, it’s often difficult to see through the dense foliage. And in many places, taking your eye away from the path (and sometimes it’s not much more than a path) is not a good idea at all.

Traffic (5 out of 5)

What traffic? Once out of Roanoke, the biggest concerns are RVs on the Blue Ridge Parkway, deer, and the occasional turkey.

Difficulty (3 out of 5) 

For properly equipped adventure and dual-sport machines, this is a moderately difficult ride.

Road Conditions (5 out of 5) 

For your knobbies, this route offers gravel to sling. On the civilized front, it dishes up a host of twisties that will make sport riders swoon.

Points of Interest

  1. Route 812 off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 78. This fairly mild gravel descent features abundant wildlife and several roadside waterfalls.
  2. Virginia Route 611 just off Interstate 81. An easy, scenic jaunt until the “End State Maintenance” sign appears. If the creek is up, eight to ten crossings are guaranteed to test your boots’ waterproofing.
  3. Virginia Route 602/West Virginia Route 20 is all dirt and all fun. It’s rough, rocky, and poorly maintained, just the way we like it. We warned you to leave the Harley at home.
  4. Route 708 through Jefferson National Forest is a fun bit of road that features every surface except pavement. Extending from the New River to Highway 460, it proves delightfully juicy after several days of rain.