This week has found us busy doing all sorts of mundane things like car repairs and doctors appointments. Ho hum. Have we done any packing…no. Have we prepared for the trip? Well, a little bit.
But, on Wednesday, we had an absolutely gorgeous spring day, and we went for a ride. It was really just a ride to lunch, and an excuse to get our new helmets on the road prior to our Texas trip. We headed north on one of the most curvaceous and fun roads in the area, GA Highway 60. I have shared photos recently of a couple of the overlooks on 60, so I will spare you the re-run. We soaked in the sun and the views, but were careful to keep at least half our attention on the road. We cut across on Dial Road through the ‘don’t blink or you’ll miss it’ town of Dial, along the beautiful Toccoa river, and continued north into the Aska adventure area; our destination for lunch was the Toccoa Riverside Restaurant.
We savored trout sandwiches while enjoying the peaceful views of the Toccoa flowing by right outside the patio. We did venture down to walk by the river after lunch but neglected to take any photos. Sorry. 😦
Typically we don’t return home the same way on a ride, instead, we find another route home. This day, we enjoyed it so much that we bent that rule and headed back the same way. We turned back down Aska Road, through Dial, and then south on Hwy 60. Despite our bike to bike communicators, we were mostly silent, occasionally commenting on an especially beautiful view or tree, and enjoying the sinuous pavement. There was hardly anyone on the road, the temperature was perfect; it was motorcycling bliss. And then we passed it.
Turn around! Let’s go back!
I can’t tell you how many times over the years we have passed something we really wanted to see or experience, but we didn’t go back because we didn’t have time. We were on a schedule, for whatever reason, and couldn’t go back. Well, on this day, we HAD TIME, and we DID go back! We have heard about the swinging bridge over the Toccoa River for years, been given directions, seen other people’s pictures, and still had never been there. Today, that would change! Here is the bridge info site: Toccoa River Swinging Bridge
The sign said Forest Road 816, and although we really didn’t know how far the bridge was, we headed in on the forest road. We have ridden the bikes all winter, but it has been some time since we took these big bikes on an unknown dirt or gravel road, so this was an adventure! The road headed uphill initially, and we soon encountered exposed large rocks, many holes, and deep dips that must have been created to provide drainage for the terrain crossing the road. It was fun, but we had to pay full attention!
We passed a couple of cars coming out, and one stopped for us to pass, so we asked how much farther…the guy said he thought it was probably another mile and a half. Riding terrain like this requires you to keep your elbows bent, and your feet standing on the pegs, which then allows your arms and legs to act as additional suspension, which helps absorb the bumps. Our dual-sport motorcycles have higher ground clearance for this kind of riding, but it also causes your unsuspecting arm and leg muscles to BURN after a while!
Turns out that FR 816 is about 4 miles to the parking area. We removed jackets, gloves, and helmets and headed down what we assumed was the trail to the river and bridge, since we could hear rushing water in the distance. The trail was not well marked, but there were a couple of earthen berms to keep vehicles from going any further. As we got down the trail a bit, the white diamond markings of the Benton MacKaye Trail were visible. The trail crosses Hwy 60 at the entrance to FR 816, but veers off into the woods and meets up with the vehicle arrivals just past the parking area.
It’s about a quarter mile easy walk to the bridge, which is an impressive sight this deep in the woods! The bridge was built by the Forest Service and the Appalachian Trail Club in 1977, and it boggles the mind how they got the massive support timbers and volumes of concrete back there to construct this bridge!
We started walking and the bridge swayed with each step…strangely more so at each end than in the middle! I am sure there is some critical physics principle in play here that I don’t understand. 😉
The views of the river were amazing…
and the shadows from the giant trees overhanging the river very photogenic…
One more obligatory bridge photo…this time with your author.
We enjoyed the bridge and investigated a bit on the other side of the river, then strolled back to the north side and checked out the river bank, which had a few clearings perfect for camp sites…except for the masses of insects swarming around! And it’s only the beginning of April!
On the short hike back to the bikes, we had to take a photo op in the seat carved from a fallen giant…
We suited up and made our way back out the four miles of FR 816, accompanied by several cars and trucks; apparently, it was rush hour in the forest!
We stopped at Hwy 60 just long enough for me to grab a shot of the rustic hiking trail sign, and of my patient husband, waiting across the road.
I love this man! And this is only the start of our adventures…without time or distance restrictions. We are very blessed. Thanks for following along on our travels.