A ride on my Guzzi to Morrow Mountain

April 21st, 20111 Comment »

Morrow Mountain State ParkI had the rare occasion Sunday to take a few hours and go for a little longer ride on my Moto Guzzi California Vintage than I usually take.

We’ve lived in Charlotte North Carolina for years, but had never visited Morrow Mountain State Park.  My motorcycle riding friends recommended it to me a while ago. The park is 50 miles east of Charlotte in the Uwharrie Mountains.

So, I decided to go on a scouting mission to check it out for the family while my wife tackled our taxes and our sons were having a play date at their friends house.

Guzzi California Vintage at Badin Road Drive-In Theater
Weather was sunny and a little cool.  The Moto Guzzi was running perfectly, as usual. North Carolina had amazingly suffered 8 tornadoes the day before, a few near Charlotte, so I wasn’t sure what to expect regarding road conditions.  Fortunately, the roads were clear, traffic was sparse, and I did not see any evidence of the storms that had passed through.

It was a beautiful day for motorcycling.  I saw several bikes on the road and a dozen or so more when I was at Morrow Mountain.  A group of three bikes were in traffic with me on the highway for some time on the way towards Albemarle, but I laid back in the right lane and let them go.  Just when I was thinking of moving over to ride along with them, the middle rider started flailing both legs off the pegs.  His bike actually started whipping side to side. I really thought he was going to lose it.

Apparently he was joking around as he indicated to the bike behind him that there was something in the road ahead.  It turned out to be a small dead animal of some kind, but obviously that’s not how you do it.  He could have easily joined that dead thing in the road and taken out his friend with him.  I decided to slow a little let them continue out of sight.

The ride there from Charlotte is mainly a rural 4-lane highway that passes through the small towns of Midland, Locust and Red Cross.  I didn’t even know there was a place called Red Cross, NC.

It seemed almost strange to me that it was a 4-lane since traffic was so sparse.  Albemarle was the largest town I passed through with the typical shopping centers and chain stores along the highway.  On the east end of Albemarle I started to see signs for Morrow Mountain State Park.

I rode by a drive-in theater and noted to myself to stop on the way back for a photo.  In my late teens/early twenties, I used to love going to drive-in movies.  I thought of the 1971 Dodge Charger I used to own and the last time my girlfriend (now wife) and I took it to a drive-in.  I think it was the movie Aliens, not the type we would normally go to see.  Drive-ins were more about the experience than the actual movie.Guzzi California Vintage at Morrow Mountain scenic overlook in North Carolina

Anyway, now I was in a rural area and getting closer to the park entrance. The odd thing was that I never noticed a mountain or even a big hill yet.  The signs took me to fun-to-ride road that went into a woods and eventually to the entrance to the park.  Another photo opportunity.  The gate was open and there is no charge to enter.

I soon came to a fork where signs said scenic area to the right and camping and lake to the left.  Of course, I went to the right.  Soon, I was going up some narrower hilly roads in the woods that got steeper.  I came to 5 mph 180 degree turn (much easier to manage it going up than when coming down).  Soon, I was at the top.  I was completely surprised to be up as high as I was since I never noticed the actual mountain as I arrived.Morrow Mountain scenic view

There were not a lot of cars at the scenic overlook and just one or two motorcycles.  This was really nice and the view was well worth the ride to get there.  I parked the Moto Guzzi and snapped some photos while I walked around.  At the top, there are picnic areas and a few rustic wooden buildings.  One is a restroom and the other is a shelter available to reserve for gatherings.

There are signs in the picnic area that explain the history of Morrow Mountain and the unique type of rock that you see all around there.  That rock is rhyolite and was used by American Indians for making weapons, blades, arrow heads, etc.

Morrow Mountain fishing pierOn my way back down, a pack of bikes was heading up, including a few Can-Am Spyders and Honda GoldWings.  I was thinking maybe to turn around and go back up to chat with them, but I decided to continue on my own way.  One thing about riding a Guzzi California is that most riders wave to you.

Onto the lake area I rode.  The park roads are really fantastic and fun to ride.  The 25 mph park speed limit keeps you from getting carried away, but is still plenty of fun.  The smell of the woods was excellent and I could actually smell (in a good way) that I was getting closer to the lake.  I love that about riding.

Moto Guzzi California Vintage at Morrow Mountain fishing areaAt the lake, a few families were having picnics and some folks were fishing from a sort of t-shaped pier that ran parallel to the shore.  I grabbed a few snapshots and wandered the edge of the water.  I was thinking of my sons and how they would enjoy fishing there and how we could have a picnic there too.  I got my helmet back on and rode off to see more of the park.

I noticed a sign for a house restoration site down a narrower road, so naturally, I rode there to see it.  I arrived at a completely empty parking lot.  I could see some sort of building a short distance up a hill beyond some trees, but it didn’t look like anything was open.  I parked the bike and thought I should give my wife a call to tell her I made it there.  No signal.  Helmet back on and away I went.

Antiques at Red Cross North CarolinaAs I headed back out towards home, I began to miss riding the narrow roads through the park woods the very second I rode out of the park entrance.  I was wishing I had bought the GoPro video camera I’ve been wanting to mount on my motorcycle for these types of rides.  I’ll be riding to Morrow Mountain again for sure, but next stop on the way home will be the funky antiques place I passed in Red Cross, and the Reed Gold Mine.

Unfortunately, both places were closed on Sunday, but I stopped at each anyway for a few photos.  I’m a fan of the tv show called “American Pickers”, and that place in Red Cross looked a lot like a a place that Frank and Mike would visit on the show.

The Reed Gold Mine is located in Midland, NC just a few miles north of highway 24/27.  If you ride there, watch out for the sharp 90 degree corner on that road, it comes up without much notice. One of my sons went to the Reed mine on a school field trip, so I wanted to see where it was. Moto Guzzi California at Reed Gold Mine Charlotte was famous as a gold mining area before gold was ever discovered out west.  There are several abandoned gold mines in this area, but this one is maintained for educational purposes and is known as the first documented gold find in the United States.

For more information about the places I visted, here are links to Morrow Mountain State Park and Reed Gold Mine.

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About John Clay

John Clay is the author of MotoGuzziCalifornia.Com. He and his family reside in North Carolina in the United States. A graduate of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's Experienced Rider Course, he enjoys riding and maintaining his Moto Guzzi California Vintage.

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1 Comment

  1. Gary Hargrove says:

    Nice story. Nice ride. That’s what it’s all about. I have a new CalVin and love it. Stay safe! Gary Hargrove, El Paso, TX