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Discussion Starter #1
I'm headed up to the Smokey Mountains in April to hoon around and generally enjoy the area. I'll be driving up the Outback, and towing mine and a friend's motorcycle with me. Although I intend to stay on pavement on the bike (not any good off-road in any way) I know there have got to be some decent areas to enjoy in the Outback up there.

We're in a cabin a little ways south of Robinsville, and I've been up there 4 times. I have a general knowledge of the area, but have always stuck to paved roads.

So... anyone know of any good roads or routes? I'll be up with a group of mostly WRX and STI owners, so if you know any roads that are reasonable gravel or dirt for those cars, feel free to point them out, too.

Thanks!
 

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I don't know about that, but if you get off exit 7 in NC and go west you can check out Buzzard's roost. There is also Hurricane Creek rd, right off of 40 going N not long before TN. Maybe milemarker 10?

I just noticed the note about the WRX and STI cars. You can go some distance on Hurricane Creek, but not real far. Get a forest road map, it will help a lot.

James
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I'd be down for tagging along if I can and you all are willing :)
I'd love having someone local tag along. I'm with a group of friends (like I said, pretty much all Suby owners) that's a mellow bunch, and the more the merrier. I don't mind taking off and running a rougher trail, but I know some others won't. They can go tear down Wayah road and blitz the Cherohola Skyway, I'll go jump stumps in the woods for a day!

We'll be up there in the first week of April, getting up there Wednesday afternoon, leaving Sunday.
 

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I'm not really local to that area (Robbinsville is easily three hours away) but am familiar somewhat. I have backpacked in Joyce Kilmer/Slickrock. Never really been in the smokies (too many people). I could probably come down that weekend you leave (4/5-6) but the previous weekend is Easter Break, so I won't be able to dip out of any classes.

I do have a Pisgah and a Nantahala NF map.

James
 

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By April the three one-way unmaintained roads in the national park should be open as long as the mud isn't too bad. (Parson's Branch Road, Rich Mountain RD, and Balsam Mountain Road) These aren't truly offroad but they are gravel with plenty of bumps, climbs, mud, and potholes; they are fun in an Outback. I personally wouldn't hesitate to take a WRX/STi on these roads, I just wouldn't intentionally steer into the potholes as I did in the Outback.

Parson's Branch offers the most exciting driving; it exits from the Cades Cove Loop, you go up and over the mountains and exit on the North Carolina side West of Twentymile. There are a few climbs steep enough that my Uncle needed to back up and get some momentum going to crest in his Escape Hybrid (my '11 Outback 2.5i CVT did fine). You can get some great views of Gregory Bald if the trees aren't completely filled out yet.

Rich Mountain Road also starts in Cades Cove and exits just a bit West of Townsend. It is shorter and easier but still fun.

Balsam Mountain Road is on the East end of Cherokee and the 18 mile loop takes about an hour. You start at a mile high and then have some slight elevation changes - this road is better maintained than the other roads but there are places you will definitely appreciate the Outback's 8.7" of ground clearance. If doing this one in the WRX, go slowly when entering and exiting the many bridges as this is where the trails have eroded the most creating some deep ditches on both ends..
 

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Heading west, Hurricane Creek is a road right off the interstate, I-40. When you see mile marker 8, start looking to your right, it's b/t mile 8 and 7.
Hurricane Creek is really nice for our stock 4Runner, and I'm about to try it out in my 3rd gen OB next weekend! It's really rocky, and you'll have to gauge for yourself. There's no speed on this trail. If you want speed/rally try Max Patch Road. Hurricane Creek: If things get a little too much for you TURN AROUND, it doesn't get better. Take a saw for small fallen brush and be prepared to turn around if a tree's down on the path.
Here's what am I doing: I'm going down Wesley Creek Road off Max Patch Road to get into that area. Wesley will t_bone another road. Right turn takes you back to Max Patch Road. (via what the locals call "Bear Waller." ) Left turn takes you to a locked forest road. Before the forest road, take another left and you'll be on Hurricane Creek. It's easy to figure out, and easy going in this area. Hurricane creek follows a creek the whole way and you go downstream to I-40. If you come from the interstate, you're going upriver and that could be harder. I've never tried it upstream, but I've seen some truck struggle that way.

I've got a great story about Me and buddy that went down Wesley Creek late one night in snow in a "05 OBXT. I will tell you the trip entailed a lot of hiking/hitching and great stories as we met all the locals and became know as the "dumasses that went through Bear Waller" in the snow.

Deals Gap will be awesome. Wayah Road has rocks all along it, and is harder to drive than Deals Gap, IMO.

Cades Cove roads are kinda wierd. They're one way, and if there's a tree down, you get a ticket for turning around.

Hurricane Creek has some really awesome campsites on the creek, too. Usually you won't run into you hiking types, though. It'll be more locals that maybe have business up in the woods.
 

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Let me know how hurricane creek goes in your outback. I drove by it yesterday on my way to buzzard's roost (the 40 side).

I carry equipment to deal with trees. been there, done that :(

Are you on offroadsuabrus? Your name looks familiar, and the person I am thinking of has a 4runner and has videos of various trips.

James
 

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Let me know how hurricane creek goes in your outback. I drove by it yesterday on my way to buzzard's roost (the 40 side).

I carry equipment to deal with trees. been there, done that :(

Are you on offroadsuabrus? Your name looks familiar, and the person I am thinking of has a 4runner and has videos of various trips.

James
No, Subaru is new to me. I was/am on 4runner forum, before selling the 4Runner. Had some videos on youtube. Here's one that is really the extreme end of my off-roading. Capability-wise, this is a stock 4Runner with no diff lock.


I'll let you know. There's been a hiking/camping trip planned for this weekend also, I might be bumping the Hurricane Subaru Test out another few days. I also hear they got some snow also. Snow makes ice and Wesley Creek's elevation changes and ice is the reason we couldn't get out last time. (Land Rover to the rescue.)

So, like I said, I'll go down Wesley Creek and tap onto Hurricane that way, weather permitting. I think I'll take car floor jack, good rope, maybe some wood, and a shovel should the need arise. Another person, also :). I'm sure the biggest threat will be clearance, not traction. I think it's fun, though this place is probably the "bunnies slopes" for some of you.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
From suggestions and poking around, I'm going to suggest Balsam Mountain road to pretty much everyone, WRX's and all. Looks like a pretty smooth gravel road.

I'm planning on going to Cade's Cove and taking Parson's branch road. Odds are, the lowered cars with us won't want to try that one... Personally, I would give it a shot with a stock height car, from what I've read of it.

Hurricane Creek just sounds a good time, but I'm probably not going to go on it unless I have a second off-road capable vehicle with me. It'll be pretty early on in spring, and while I love going places cars can't (or at least shouldn't be able to) I don't like getting stuck in them! I carry self-recovery gear (cordless electric chainsaw suitable for branches and small trees, traction mats, shovels, and a winch) when I go on "expedition" but try to use my brain first... I've never needed the winch... but I've used a tow and recovery strap a handful of times for other vehicles. Pretty easy with more than one alone, not so much alone.
 

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If you are in the Smokies, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a gorgeous drive!!

Last fall, my wife and I visited a friend in Ashville and spent a day tooling around the parkway. That was a fun day. You tend to want to stop every few miles to get out and take pictures.

By April, Great Smokey Mountains National Park should be open.
 

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If you are in the Smokies, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a gorgeous drive!!

Last fall, my wife and I visited a friend in Ashville and spent a day tooling around the parkway. That was a fun day. You tend to want to stop every few miles to get out and take pictures.

By April, Great Smokey Mountains National Park should be open.
Startiger: Not sure how far you are from Cole Mountain, but my wife and I went "back" last year. The drive up is a little fun, but nothing a FWD minivan can't handle. I remember it from my 2001 AT thru-hike, and had it on a "bucket list." By far, it's some of the prettiest hiking around on the AT. Take a camera.

Great mountain views on both sides of trailhead. Excellent, Excellent, camping right at road. There's even a swing in a tree by a campsite on the north side.
 

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Startiger: Not sure how far you are from Cole Mountain, but my wife and I went "back" last year. The drive up is a little fun, but nothing a FWD minivan can't handle. I remember it from my 2001 AT thru-hike, and had it on a "bucket list." By far, it's some of the prettiest hiking around on the AT. Take a camera.
I'm not familiar with Cole Mountain. Where is it?
 

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I'll let you know.
That sounds great. Depending on when you go, some other board members may like to go!

reddoak said:
I'm probably not going to go on it unless I have a second off-road capable vehicle with me.
I don't have winches and that fancy stuff, but I am a little better than a stock car, too. I carry a mattock for emergency extractions, but it only gets used for poop pits...
 

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This sounds like another thread altogether, but is there any weekday next week that will work? Feb 4-8th? Day trip. For anyone wondering where this is: west of Asheville off I-40 before Tenn.

Highest Vision: Could you start a thread/notification/whatever concerning and link to this one? It appears you have been longer a member of this forum and therefore may know proper/effective methods. (I hope I can find it if such occurs.)
 

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Discussion Starter #19
That sounds great. Depending on when you go, some other board members may like to go!



I don't have winches and that fancy stuff, but I am a little better than a stock car, too. I carry a mattock for emergency extractions, but it only gets used for poop pits...
I've used my shovels and a tow strap for emergency extractions. I rarely carry the winch, and have never needed it. I'm OK with that. I'll have it up there, just in case... But I prefer to find a way to where I'm going that I don't create my own emergency. But it looks like a completely different terrain than what I'm used to down in FL (sand, mud, gators.)
 

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is there any weekday next week that will work? Feb 4-8th?
PM sent.

reddoak said:
But it looks like a completely different terrain than what I'm used to down in FL (sand, mud, gators.)
Definietly no gators :gasp: But I have seen mud and sand. The sand was from erosion I think, not what I picture beach being like, and the mud can hide rocks...

James
 
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