Top 5 Motorcycle Routes Near Charlotte, North Carolina

Sep 18, 2021


Triumph motorcycle ridden in a twisted road near Charlotte.

Charlotte is one of the fastest-growing cities in America. It’s the largest city in North Carolina and the second-largest city in the southeastern United States, behind Jacksonville, Florida. Home to the headquarters of financial mainstays like Bank of America and Wells Fargo, Charlotte is the biggest banking center outside of New York City. 

Home to the NASCAR Hall of Fame and NASCAR All-Star Race, Charlotte is also a cultural mecca for motorsport enthusiasts. Not far from the Tar Heel State’s largest city lies a network of tree-covered motorcycle trips running past grand country estates, nostalgic grain silos, and Instagram-worthy meadows. You’ll get a chance to ride past the famed Blue Ridge Mountains and the filming locations of popular sitcoms and movies like The Andy Griffith Show and Dirty Dancing.

There’s no other way to put it—the Tar Heel State’s motorcycle routes easily compete with and sometimes overshadow those of larger states. We’ve selected five routes to make your next Charlotte getaway into a memorable tour of North Carolina. We recommend using Riders Share to rent a motorcycle in town before heading out—it’s the easiest way to find the right ride on short notice.

1. Route 182 - Meandering Peaceful Ride

One-day trip — 34 miles

Sometimes the best motorcycle routes are those that offer the simple pleasure of a countryside escape. The aptly-named Meandering Peaceful Ride does exactly this, allowing the motorcycle enthusiast an hour’s worth of Old South solitude.

There’s so much serene scenery and old country charm on this route that you won’t have a care in the world while riding. You’ll see farmland, meadows, grain silos, country estates, and barns as you pass through this quiet and tranquil portion of North Carolina. Get off your bike and explore the meadows on foot—you might run into some forest wildlife.

This route pairs natural beauty with a diversity of road types. You’ll get your fair share of straightaways, curves, and hills. The overhanging trees keep the road cool, even during the summers. Be on alert for the occasional deer, turkey, or raccoon crossing the road, especially in the mornings and evenings. These critters are pretty much the only traffic on this route.

Don’t expect much in the way of amenities during the first part of the trip. Look for gas stations and fast food places once you go through Fallston and Pollville. There’s a nice country store with grub and gas at the end of the route.

2. Route 16 - Charlotte to Wilkesboro

One-day trip — 69 miles

Get a feel for your motorcycle rental and take it on a pleasure-cruise through the north of North Carolina with the Charlotte to Wilkesboro trip.

Because this route runs along Highway 16 and starts in Charlottesville, the directions are simple. Avoiding the business route, follow the signs along Highway 16 north to Wilkesboro, North Carolina. 

Wilkesboro is known as a “gateway to the mountains,” and that’s exactly what riders of this route will see. Prepare to be left speechless by the breathtaking views as you top the hills—you’ll be looking out onto the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains. You’ll pass through some quaint small towns and elegant, old homes along the way.

Road quality is almost perfect throughout. Only in the little towns will you encounter bumpy tracts of road. Everything else is smooth, with lots of sweeping curves to boot. Luckily, this route is well-marked and easily navigable for newcomers. Because the first part of the route leaves Charlotte, traffic will be fairly heavy until you get past Taylorsville. Consider riding on the weekend to avoid it.

Gas and grub isn’t hard to find along this route. Try the Elsewhere restaurant in North Wilkesboro if you’re looking for a hidden jewel of a restaurant.

3. Lunch in Mayberry

One-day trip — 67 miles

If you’ve ever dreamed of living in a black-in-white TV show, the Lunch in Mayberry motorcycle road is the closest you can get to approximating that experience on a motorcycle!

Take this ride for a representative sample of North Carolina’s small towns and rolling country farmland. You’ll end up passing through Rowan, Davie, Yadkin, and Surry counties. Road quality couldn’t be better along this route. Rough patches, owing to construction work, are rare.

This route features plenty of gas stations. You’ll want to go to Mount Airy for two reasons. First, the fried pork chop at Snappy Lunch is so good it’s worth the entire ride. Second, Mount Airy is actor and comedian Andy Griffith’s hometown and the basis of the fictional town Mayberry in the popular 60s sitcom The Andy Griffith Show. Stop by at the Andy Griffith Museum, established in the actor’s childhood home! If lunch in Mayberry doesn’t hit the mark, the Irish pub O’Callahan’s in Mocksville, North Carolina sure will.

4. Dirty Driving to Lake Lure

One-day trip — 70 miles

If television isn’t big enough for you, try the silver screen on for size! The Dirty Driving to Lake Lure motorcycle route will lure you to the set of the 1987 film, Dirty Dancing.

There are a few areas outside of town that are perfect for sportbikes, should you have one. The town of Chimney Rock is home to Chimney Rock State Park; brave blind corners and a narrow road to get up the mountain to the park entrance. Make sure you have $15 for the entrance fee. The stunning views and prime hiking trails are worth the effort.

Prepare to do some technical riding on this route—it’s rife with twisties and hairpin turns, especially once you get closer to the lake! This route consists of excellent two-lane roads. Lake Lure is popular, so you might encounter slower-moving traffic. Outside of town, the curves are mostly gentle sweepers and the traffic lightens up. Make sure you work up an appetite on those curves, because Lake Lure and nearby Chimney Rock are chock-full of restaurants and shops.

5. Pekin Road & Cartledge Creek Road

One-day trip — 35 miles

Pekin Road & Cartledge Creek Road is without a doubt one of the best routes in the entire state of North Carolina. 

This road winds through the southern edge of the Uwharrie Mountains. You’ll find yourself surrounded by lush green pine forests one moment, and out in open fields with old farmhouses the next. Occasionally, you’ll pass along a small mountaintop, giving you a panorama of the surrounding country. Everything becomes even more magical in the fall when the leaves begin to change colors. Park your motorcycle rental and do some footwork at Town Creek Indian Mound State Historic Site or Morrow Mountain State Park.

Long sweepers,  properly-banked tighties, and that sugary smell of pine make this route a motorcycle enthusiast’s dream. The section between Highway 731 and 73 is rife with tar-snakes, so ride with caution.

You couldn’t ask for much more, but if you’re in need of a treat, there are a couple of homemade ice cream stands nearby in Ellerbe, North Carolina. Otherwise, the route itself has few houses and businesses.

Now that you’ve read a little about North Carolina’s finest motorcycle roads, all you have to do is rent the right street bike for the trip. If you’re tired of booking rides from traditional rental companies, there’s a cure to your rental woes.