Although only about 12-miles long, this exciting motorcycle route features approximately 200 curves!
The DiamondBack links NC 226 to the Blue Ridge Parkway. At the peak of the Diamondback is the Switzerland Inn and Chalet Restaurant (Mile Post 334).
Riding or driving the Diamondback through Pisgah National Forest not only takes you alongside heart stopping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, it is a refreshing climb with as much as a 12-degree temperature drop and a great escape from summer humidity.
Generally traveling north-south, 226A is entirely within McDowell and Mitchell counties. The Diamondback parallels the Blue Ridge Parkway along much of its northern segment.
The following ride description was taken from diamondback226.com - click here for details
It begins right at the Inn as NC 226A descends from 3475 feet elevation at Little Switzerland to 1390 at US 221.
These 11 miles are packed with great twisties. The first 5 miles are the steepest and tightest. Make sure you have good brakes and use your gearing on this downhill ride. There are no guard rails and the drop-offs are steep and deep with only the forest to stop you in many places. This is no place to ride fast or alone.
The pavement is good. There were a few turns with gravel and dust from driveways, but not more than you should expect anywhere. There are a few homes and other structures, so watch out for locals pulling in or out. We encountered no traffic on our run. There are no difficult switchbacks, but some curves came close. We had no trouble on the FJR riding two-up and fully loaded.
The four miles of US 221 south is a 4-lane that will get you to the next good section of the loop (we call this The Connector). There is one fuel stop before the turn-off to the right onto Toms Creek Road. The next station is a few miles farther south on 221.
Two miles on Toms Creek Road brings you to NC 80, also known as Buck Creek Road. From here, at an elevation of 1300 feet, NC 80 climbs ten-miles back up to the spine of the Blue Ridge Parkway at 3350 feet.
The roadway offers glimpses of Lake Tahoma and the haunted dam on the right. Here a unique stone building called the Casino seemingly floats on the lake. The Casino is not a gambling place, but a private recreational building used for weddings and parties by area homeowners.
NC 80, known to some as The Devilís Whip, follows the winding path of Buck Creek. There are some good twisties in the lower section, but there are also residences, trailer parks and camping on both sides. Not a good place to speed. The speed limit here is 45.
Seven miles up the road takes an abrupt left turn at Singecat Branch and there are no more residences. This corner is known as Schoolbus Turn-around. These last three miles to the BRP get steeper and twistier. Unlike 226A there are guard rails everywhere. These might keep you from going off the mountain, but they can do serious damage to a body. Pavement is good.
There is one-bitchen switchback just before the BRP. Itís every bit as good as the ones on the Devils Triangle. Be ready for this one and remember to use brake, clutch and throttle to control your bike on the steep uphill, 180 degree turn.
The final leg of the Diamondback Loop is northbound ten miles on the Blue Ridge Parkway.