Snowshoe is centrally located in Pocahontas County, and virtually any road here is a motorcyclist’s dream. It doesn’t matter what type of motorcycle one is riding, the never-ending curves mixed into the serene landscape make for an adrenaline-packed vacation. Webster and Greenbrier Counties, and neighboring Virginia’s Bath County, also don’t disappoint.
“Adventure Times Two” can certainly be taken differently here. Christa is riding a Yamaha Super Ténéré while Sarah and I are on KTM’s 1190 Adventure. Both motorcycles are made for adventure, but I’m on tour with my wife and my mother. It has the potential to morph into a different kind of adventure and one that would surely turn my hair gray. Luckily we’re an easygoing bunch of travelers. My worries quickly disappear as we roll out of the office parking lot on an early April morning and point the wheels north to Snowshoe.
The only gas station in the area is the Exxon near the 66 and 219 intersection. We fuel up and head north on Highway 219 before turning left onto 15. The roads are nearly empty and only an occasional truck slows us down. Our agile and superfast motorcycles turn the curves into an even better playground, and the high-tech suspensions eliminate most bumps. Christa feels more of the sporadic washboard asphalt on the Yamaha, but overall the roads are in excellent condition.
We reach Webster Springs, quite the busy little community, and pick up 20 South with all the other cars and trucks, mostly from nearby logging and mining. Surprised by the heavy traffic, we take it slow and notice the everyday life.
Motorcycles & Gear
2014 KTM 1190 Adventure, 2014 Yamaha Super Ténéré
Helmets: Shoei Hornet-DS, Shoei Multitec, Bell Star
Jackets: Rukka Armas, Firstgear TPG Monarch, Olympia AST Ladies
Pants: Rukka Armas, Firstgear TPG Escape, Olympia Promax Ladies
Gloves: REV’IT! Sand Pro, Alpinestars Stella Messenger Drystar
Boots: Sidi Canyon GORE-TEX, Sidi Jasmine Rain, Sidi Livia Rain
Luggage: SW-MOTECH DAKAR saddlebags
Christa and I have visited this area before; however, Sarah has not so she has no idea what to expect. We all agree that the natural beauty is breathtaking. The added bonus of staying in Snowshoe is the magnificent views over the land as we descend down Cheat Mountain. As we roll through the valleys and the curves, the views mainly consist of trees, but once in a while we crest a hill and West Virginia’s countryside is on full display.
We try to stop as often as we can to get a snack, drink a coffee, and look inside local shops. You never know what gems you’ll find—not to mention the outside money can really increase the bottom line of the businesses in the smaller communities.
After a Mexican lunch in Summersville, we follow the four-lane Highway 19 until we ditch it for Route 41. Open sweepers with zero traffic get us back into the rhythm. Just when we think that it can’t get any better, we turn onto Highway 60. Tight curves increase our lean angles, and we use all the rubber Bridgestone and Continental provide. Construction interrupts our dance for a brief moment, but then we split north on 20 and return via 55 and 219. Coming through Marlinton offers a last chance for afternoon coffee.
Variety is Key
Route 66 east to Cass is only nine miles but very entertaining and technical to ride. Minor gravel in the curves and the ever-present danger of wildlife keep us on high alert.
The Cass Scenic Railroad State Park is popular, so planning ahead is important—scenic tours can be booked months in advance. An older gentleman tells me all about the Whittaker and Bald Knob runs and how well-liked the latter is. Ticket prices range from to , and there’s a upcharge during the fall foliage season. Any gear head will appreciate the locomotives. Regardless, it’s still worth the stop and a visit inside the Company Store to learn about spruce logging and life in the early 1900s.
Highway 250 east and west of Monterey is one of my favorite motorcycling roads because of the combination of rhythmic curves over two mountain ranges, almost no traffic, and farmland scenery. This time we only take 250 to Monterey and then move south on 220, a rather straight road. The fertile valley with farms lining the way heightens the experience.
Once in a while, a triple-digit county road can lead to a dead end, or in this case, a stunning lake inside Douthat State Park. Route 629 starts out off of 39 as a narrow blacktop between lime green trees. Unpredictable curves lead us all the way to the state park where visitors have noticeably increased traffic, and the restaurant overlooking the lake is the main attraction today. It’s closed for a private party, so we make the short jaunt to Clifton Forge and get food at Bella Pizza. The mercury has risen significantly from the brisk 45 degree morning, and we use our lunch stop to shed some layers.
At the north end of Covington, a huge plant catches our attention. It’s not just the smoke stacks and pits but also the foul smell that comes with a paper and packaging material factory.