Gravel Grinder to Max Patch

Ever since Spanky and I started thinking about Dirty Kanza a couple of years ago, I've been addicted to finding odd or off-the-beaten-path routes in the mountains around Asheville. We found a good one yesterday- 5,000+ feet in 50 miles, about half of it on gravel.

We left Hot Springs on pavement and found gravel in about 4 miles, but before that we came upon a weird scene- a bunch of rabbit parts, mostly heads and feet strewn on the road. WTF?! I guess that's normal for eastern TN.

The gravel roads were in really good shape, which helped with the 4,100 feet covered in 18 miles up to Max Patch. There were lots of folks hiking up there. We lingered just long enough for a snack and a chill to set in, and then began the long descent to Del Rio, probably another 10 miles of straight descending.

We hit pavement again in Del Rio, which is basically a country suburb at this point. Even the P.O. has been shut down. From there we turned right on Fugate Rd. and headed straight back to Hot Springs along the river. It's an unusual road set between the river's bank and a slightly elevated railroad track. The track was no more than 10 feet from the road most of the way and the bank was so steep, the gravel next to the track was falling into the road. The road was basically squeezed into the terrain, reduced to one lane in spots. I didn't take a picture but it is worth checking out. Here are some pictures I did take: