Wolf Pen Gap Road

Riding Georgia's finest twisties

Cruise the twisties of Wolf Pen Gap.
Cruise the twisties of Wolf Pen Gap.Stan Reents

I recently made a return visit to the north Georgia mountains to settle a score with a road, and this time, I swore it wouldn’t get the better of me. It’d been nearly five years since I’d ridden Wolf Pen Gap Road, but occasionally, memories of that first time in north Georgia still pop into my head.

Back then, on the morning I was going to leave, a wicked thunderstorm had begun pounding Tampa, Florida. South of Atlanta I hit more rain, and after a couple hours, I had enough.

The next day, I rode almost to the Georgia-Tennessee state line, then headed southeast on GA Route. 60 with the final destination of Two Wheels Only resort, in Suches, my target.

I’ve been on Rt. 60 once before at night; with no street lights and lots of curves, tackling this road in the dark is not the most relaxing experience.

The sun went down before I got to Suches, leaving about 45 minutes of some challenging riding. In terms of difficulty, Rt. 60 is in the same league as the Tail of the Dragon at Deal's Gap. Needless to say, when I finally got to Two Wheels Only, and a fellow motorcyclist offered a couple cold ones, I sucked them down quickly.

The next morning, I left TWO, rode a mere 100 feet, and there it was; The Wolf.

I don’t know why I was apprehensive. Wolf Pen Gap Road (GA Rt. 180) is only 12 miles of two-lane back road. Sure, it’s curvy, but I’ve wrestled cruisers on roads in Arizona, California, and Utah that were more challenging. I guess I was just thinking about how suddenly things can happen—like they did on that day five years ago.

Hit rewind: It was a beautiful summer day, the road was dry, the air smelled clean and pure. My buddy “The Vagabond” and I were riding in the Georgia mountains. It was the first time we had tackled Wolf Pen Gap Road, but we were feeling confident. Then, as we descended, on a downhill right turn, the Wolf reached up and bit my friend.

I couldn’t believe it. Both The Vagabond and his black Honda Shadow were on their right side, sliding across the oncoming lane. My stomach twinged.

I jumped off my bike. I asked The Vagabond repeatedly if he was okay. He was only wearing jeans and a T-shirt. The upper part of his right arm was covered with road rash. Later I would find out that he was having pain in his ribs.

Even though the tank was dented, and the leather bags scuffed up, the Shadow was actually in good shape. We finished the ride that day, but, in an obviously less-than-satisfied state of mind...

Fast forward, and here I was... taking on The Wolf again. I crested the peak, and on the descending side, I found the curve where my buddy had wiped out. I stopped to figure out what happened there years ago. That right-hander was no different than any other turn on these roads...unless, of course, you took it too fast.

To be honest, Wolf Pen Gap Road is a pretty enjoyable ride, and this repeat visit felt sort of anti-climatic. Yeah, it’s technical in some places, but not nearly as challenging as The Dragon.

So I rode for a while and grabbed lunch in Helen. Then, just when I thought I was going to record a perfect day of riding, I spotted dark clouds overhead. On US-129, I caught intermittent rain and tried to head directly back to two wheels only, but, unfortunately, there is no such thing as a straight road in this area. I took Rt. 19 and had just gotten on Rt. 60 when the skies really opened up. Great, here I was again, riding GA Rt. 60 blindly again.

Thankfully, the next day dawned sunny. I headed south back to Florida. It seems I had conquered The Wolf, but, in the end, it was GA Rt. 60 that kicked my butt.

I guess i have another score to settle..... Unfortunately, Two Wheels Only, in Suches, closed their doors in March 2011.

Resources:
Helen Chamber of Commerce
www.helenga.org

White County Chamber of Commerce
www.whitecountychamber.org