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(and yet more twisties)
Monday, October 13

Day 4 of our driving trip. We had already packed a lot in, and I'd schedule a bit of variety for this morning. Since hiking and mountains are also up there on my list of fun things to do, I thought a little bit of that inserted into the middle of our driving trip might provide a nice bit of variety and exercise. I'd researched in advance and had picked an interesting-looking outing just north of Roanoke, and the trailhead of which was right off of one of the nice red twisty roads on my list. The climb would take us at most 4 hours, I predicted, leaving us most of the day for more juicy twisties!

After stopping in advance at a local drugstore for blister-prevention gear (Luke's feet are somewhat tender), we drove north for about 15 minutes on Virginia State Route 311. The hike we were about to do climbs to a neat rock spire called The Dragon's Tooth. The route I'd chosen was such that we could park one car at one trailhead, hike up, then hike back down to a different trailhead. And so, after a bit of car shuttling, we parked at the start point for our hike, which was a point at where the famed Appalachian trail crossed a side-road (our route up to the Dragon's Tooth followed the Appalachian trail)
At the Dragon's Tooth
Ready for some foot-pounding
Up the AT
I won't go into too much detail about our hike here -- just a brief overview and a few pictures. But, if you like what you see, and you want a full accounting of the hike, please [click here] to visit my in-depth hike report.

The climb up (on a ridge called, appropriately, the Dragon's Spine) was fairly easy, and in spots quite scenic. The weather was again great; the hazy views across endless ridges was sublime; and in no time, we were at the base of the final climb up to the ridge crest where the Dragon's Tooth was located.
Along the AT
First Lookout
More steep hiking
Following a steep and rocky ascent, we topped out on the ridgecrest, then ambled along it for a bit to the crooked spire of the Dragon's Tooth. We made our way to the exposed little tip of it, drinking in excellent views of the surrounding countryside.
The Dragon's Tooth
Scrambling the Tooth
One last look
After a nice break at the top, we headed back down, looking forward to some more excellent driving. We arrived at the end trailhead just over three and a half hours after we started out. Excellent time!
Warning! You've only seen a brief set of images and a short writeup on our climb of The Dragon's Tooth. Click here to go to a hike-specific "in-depth" page that contains a more complete account, a lot more pictures, elevation graphs, and an interactive track-and-photo map of our route.
A bit of post-hike shuttling and changing of clothes, and we were ready to go -- ready to tackle VA-311; our next twisty road adventure!
Twisties on 311
VA-311 headed northwest, back across all of the long ridge systems we had crossed last evening on VA-16. Sure enough, there was good stuff on this road -- the first of which was a nice set of twisties traversing up the southeast face of the ridge of Potts Mountain, including a nice hairpin. Again, beautiful weather, excellent pavement, and fun twisties.
Twisties and the S2K
Top-down on 311
Beginning of Excellent-ness
After pleasantly crossing some valley bottoms, VA-311 makes another ascent, aiming to cross another ridge, this time of Peters Mountain. The ascent up the southeast face is pleasantly twisty, but over the crest, on the northwest side, things get serious. It was super twisty on this side, rivalling the best twisties of VA-16, but not as long. Still, superb. In fact, we went back and did this section twice -- in part because we wanted to follow a set of sport bikers we had seen gassing up a while before. They never showed up, and the stretch of road was as excellent the second time as the first.

Twisty Road Info: If you'd like ratings, ranking, and more detailed information about VA-311, click here.
Super twisty WV/VA-311
Super twisty WV/VA-311
After finishing with VA-311, we high-tailed it back westward on Interstate 64, then north on US-219, aiming to intersect another east-west ridge crossing route. US-219 itself was marked as 'moderately twisty' on my little custom map, but even it turned out to be quite pleasant. It wound through a lot of broad, open hills, mostly farmland. Every once in a while, there was a tight little bunch of twisties. The whole atmosphere of this bit of US-219 was very 'western', and I wouldn't have felt it out of place if it had been in Wyoming.
Interstate thru West Virginia
US-129 carried us up to our next 'ridge-crossing' route: WV-39. We followed this back east-southeast towards Virginia. It was a very decent road, with good twisties here and there (although we encountered some annoying slow traffic on this route). Not in the same caliber as some of the other twisties we'd recently encountered, but still good. Eventually we hit the main artery of I-81 again, and headed north for a bit, aiming for a run back west across another ridge-crossing route.
Sublime Thirty-nine
Forest twisties on WV-39
Luke at Five Guys
Twisty Road Info: If you'd like ratings, ranking, and more detailed information about WV-39 and VA-39, click here.

We got off I-81 at Staunton, VA, had a quick burger at a Five Guys burger joint, and headed off. Our last highway of the day was going to be US-250, running back northwest into West Virginia. In fact, we were running out of daylight, and it was likely that some of our driving would be in the dark.
Downtown Staunton
Downtown Staunton
Shenandoah Mountain
US-250 Turned out to be very scenic and had very decent stretches of good twisties, connected together by some straight stuff in between. I had planned a side excursion to fit another good twisty in, but a wrong turn and dusk both conspired to burn the rest of our time. We retreated back to US-250, heading west for a place to stay the night. Along the way, we encountered some more excellent twisties, but it being nighttime, we had to tone things down. I did manage to get a cool long-exposure night shot of one of the twisties, though -- check it out!
Tracing a Twisty
There were a few more twisties to be had on US-250 before reaching the flat, populated stretch from Huttonsville to Elkins -- but nothing we could really exploit, given the dark. We rolled into Elkins, WV around 9pm, and, after a tasty Dairy Queen Heath Crunch Blizzard (which I'd been hankering for for a few days at that point), we stopped for the night at the local Econolodge. That was it -- our last full day of exploring the Virginia and West Virginia countryside. The next day would be the start of the long drive home....

Twisty Road Info: If you'd like ratings, ranking, and more detailed information about US-250, click here.
Interactive Trackmap & Photo Points - Day 4 - Click link below to expand

Route Data - Day 4 - Roanoke to Elkins
Start Time:
7:03AM
Start Elevation:
1127ft (343m) *
End Time:
9:07PM
Max Elevation:
4295ft (1309m) *
Duration:
14h4m
Min Elevation:
981ft (299m) *
Distance:
571.32 km (355.0 mi)
End Elevation:
1929ft (588m) *
Average Speed:
40.6 km/hr (25.2 mph)
* : +/ 75 feet
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