North Carolina is characterized by the Appalachian Mountains in the west and the dune-lathered coastline—including the Outer Banks—to the east. Adventurous souls can find tranquility in the gently rolling sweepers of smooth asphalt cutting through farmland and across lakes and rivers. Rejuvenated historical towns provide ample opportunities for pit stops. There are also many places to pull over for photographs and regain a connection with nature.
This City Escape passes through NC State University-owned farmland by Yates Mill Pond and over Lake Wheeler before weaving its way west out into the great wide open. Cagers are sparse but present and sometimes you will sense a place where more people live. You may see a tractor on the road here and there, and remember to watch out for deer.
Approximately 210 miles
Pik N Pig serves hickory-smoked barbecue to travelers arriving on bikes—and planes. The airport-attached joint burned down in 2021, but fortunately it’s open again. Help them recover from their losses at 194 Gilliam McConnell Rd, Carthage, NC, (910) 947-7591.
Points of Interest
The town of Fuquay-Varina is home to two historic downtowns—Fuquay and Varina. Here, you will find locally-owned boutiques, restaurants, and bars. The conjoined downtown is a great place to spend time. Be sure to check out the Fuquay-Varina Arts Center and History Museums.
Carolina Tiger Rescue is a nonprofit wildlife sanctuary whose mission is to save and protect wild cats in captivity. Located in Pittsboro, between the Pik N Pig and Saxapahaw, it is a fine stop along this route. Call ahead and check the times of group tours or schedule a private tour. Find it at 1940 Hanks Chapel Rd, Pittsboro, NC, (919) 542-4684.
Saxapahaw is somewhere in the middle of nowhere. When its cotton mill closed in 1994, the town began to fade as well. Today, it is a welcoming motorcycle oasis with a jarring contrast of farm-fresh food and service-station atmosphere—complete with three grades of ethanol-free fuel. The Saxapahaw General Store sparked a revival in this former milltown and is definitely worth a visit.