Ron and Nancy returned to the Devils Triangle for the fifth time to check road conditions after getting reports of some serious deterioration to the asphalt and other hazards. We rode in both directions in order to get a detailed analysis. The Devils Triangle is a different road when going in opposite directions so we are providing a report for both.
CLICK HERE for the architecture and art of the area - interesting photos !
TN 62 heading west from Oliver Springs toward TN 116
Heading up the mountain on 116 from the prison.
Concrete wall in this steep downhill decreasing radius corner.
This drainage rut is actually more than two feet deep and then hello wall. Keep it on the road.
This group made it fine.
Broken road edge and dangerous drop off.
Here is just one example of the rough patches on 116.
Tanker wetting road at the coal transfer plant.
This is an example of the cracked pavement. It is not really hazardous unless riders overreact to it.
Here is an example of road patching and dangerous drop-off.
This bad rut is in the middle of the counterclockwise land.
The Graves Gap Church switchback going counterclockwise.
Coming into one of the switchbacks going counterclockwise.
Talk about a serious switchback. This photo is NOT Photo shopped.
The Haunted Section of 116.
WHERE WE STAYED - Accommodations are just about non-existent on the Triangle. We found the newly opened Windmill Inn Bread and Breakfast just a block off the Loop on TN 61 south of Oliver Springs. John and Brenda have converted an old church into an upscale country bed and breakfast. There are twenty rooms so bring the entire gang. CLICK HERE FOR WEBSITE
SUMMARY - The Devils Triangle is for experienced riders. There are hazards that might present a problem for new riders. The hardest thing we encountered were the sharp, steep uphill switchbacks. We were riding two-up on a FJR 1300 fully loaded with top bag and side bags. Personally we like the Triangle and did not see anything that would keep us from returning. Keep your speed down, stay alert, and dodge the hazards.
CLOCKWISE – Pavement is worse in this direction, but the sharp switchbacks are easier.
Leaving Oliver Springs heading west on TN 62 (Knoxville Highway) is typical two-lane with a speed limit of 55 mph except for a short section of 45 mph through the small village of Coalfield. Watch for the intersection of TN 116 on the right at mile 8.
Turning right you are now heading in a northerly direct on TN 116 and will pass through the small Petros community (pronounced Pee’ tross). Home of Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary which closed down in 2009 and relocated to nearby Wartburg. The prison was established in 1896 and is best known for housing James Earl Ray who was convicted of murdering Martin Luther King. Ray and six other inmates escaped in 1977 but were captured in the dense forest two days later. This is a residential area so watch your speed for the three miles to the prison entrance.
Here you enter Frozen Head State Park and the road suddenly turns sharply to the right climbing 750 feet in two miles. Here you will encounter some great twisties, but be warned, there are guardrails, concrete walls, and steep drop-offs.
The road then descends 550 feet to the New River in one and a half miles and exits the State Forest. Here there are no railings, but steep drop offs on one side and a deep rut with rock wall on the other. Keep it on the pavement here.
The pavement is excellent for this three mile mountain run, but at the Morgan/Anderson County Line the road straightens into gentle curves. Crossing the New River you will begin to encounter large, rough patches and sags/cracks in the pavement especially in the right half of your lane. In one corner the white line is completely missing due to deterioration.
Three and a half miles from the county line is a good place to slow down. A coal transfer plant appears on the right and the roadway here has coal dust fallout from trucks. At times they even wet the road making it even worse for riders.
The next six and a half miles is residential. Some homes are within feet of the roadway so take it easy. Watch-out for gravel washed onto the road from driveways. Moving hazards include coal trucks, local cars and pickups, and occasional 4-wheelers which are allowed to ride on the road within 5 miles of Windrock ATV Area trailheads. The pavement continues to be patchy and sagging with cracks.
Crossing the New River at the apex of the triangle the road turns to the southeast. Watch-out for the first right turn after the bridge …. It’s an unexpected hard and sharp. Three-quarters of a mile past the bridge you’ll pass Grey Wolf Campground on the right. Road conditions continue to be rough in spots and there are some nasty drop-offs on the right.
The first real switchback comes at Bearwallow Branch, five and a half miles past the bridge. It’s a sharp uphill right. Don’t cut it too close to the right or you’ll be down the rocky drainage gully.
They are currently logging in the next few miles (summer 2010). There is gravel in road where the logging trucks enter and exit from side roads.
The second serious switchback, another right, is a mile farther south. The road continues climbing to Grave Gap at 2160 feet. Watch for gravel at this intersection. The most difficult section of the Triangle comes quickly in the next mile.
The third switchback at Graves Gap Church is a tight downhill left. The fourth switchback, another downhill lefty, is the tightest at more than a 200 degree angle .. and it’s the steepest too.
The fifth and sixth downhill switchbacks come fast. The first is a sweeping right and the last another sharp 200 degree left.
Don’t relax yet. We call the next two miles the haunted section. It offers some interesting twists and turns with steep drop offs on the right. Oddly the pavement is good here, but don’t let the Devil pull you off the road.
The old store on the right marks Laurel Grove and the intersection of TN 116 and TN 330. Here the final leg on the Triangle on TN 330 takes you back into Oliver Springs. This 55 mph road is uneventful other than a couple of sweepers.
We don’t recall seeing a speed limit sign all the way from the prison to Laurel Grove. Locals say they rarely see a trooper or sheriff on TN 116.
COUNTERCLOCKWISE – Better pavement, but the step and tight uphill switchbacks are harder.
The 55 mph run north east on TN 330 to Laurel Grove is uneventful. A few sweepers add a little flavor.
Taking a left onto TN 116 you are soon on the haunted section with good pavement. The various turns are fun. Keep it on the roadway.
The first switchback is a 200 degree uphill skill tester. Enter the corner with cycle near the double yellow. Start your turn trying to tighten it near the white line. Use throttle, clutch and rear brake together to “feather” your control to prevent stalling. This is something you should practice if you have never done it. WARNING … there might be oncoming traffic that you can’t see so stay in your lane through the entire switchback.
The second switchback comes in just 100 yards. It’s a wider uphill left that is much easier. Don’t let the crosses on the hillside distract you. There’s a big pull-off on the right if you want to stop and watch other riders come through.
Then in 200 yards comes the hardest. It’s another steep uphill 200 degree tighty that tests even the best riders, especially heavy cruisers and touring bikes.
Then the Graves Gap Church switchback is yet another sharp uphill.
Watch for gravel crossing Graves Gap. The next mile is fun twisties and then a downhill switchback to the left will slow you down.
Stay alert here in the next two miles. There is some bad pavement and rough patches right in the middle of the lane.
In a little over a mile you’ll meet the last switchback. It’s another downhill left. Watch for gravel.
There are some good twisties in the next five and a half miles to the New River Bridge at the apex of the triangle. Stay alert though, the road is not in the best condition.
The next six and a half miles is residential with some homes within feet of the roadway. Drives allow gravel onto the pavement. Watch out for 4-wheelers.
Be alert for coal dust and wet road surface in front of the coal transfer plant at Moores Camp.
The Frozen Head State Park begins at the Anderson/ Morgan County Line. The pavement here is good as the road rises to Armes Gap elevation 2150 feet and then descends to 1420 at the prison. This is a great sportbike section, but riders beware of the dangers. There are rock cliffs, deep ruts, steep drop-offs, metal railings, and concrete walls. The downhill section is rather steep so be aware that momentum may make braking harder.
From the prison to TN 62 is residential passing through the community of Petros.
TN 62 (Knoxville Highway) back into Oliver Springs is 55 mph two-lane with one 45 mph section through Coalfield.
CLICK HERE for the architecture and art of the area.
( interesting photos !
Watch out for 4-wheelers on the road. It is legal within 5 miles of Windrock ATV Area.
Trucks can be a hazard too.
The Petros Gro-Deli on Main Street. Didn't look like much, but great homemade hamburgers.
Brushy Mountain Market in Petros on TN 116 has fuel, food, snacks.
Gingers Deli and Fuel on TN 116 on the way to Briceville. Closest fuel and food on the east side of the Triangle.
The Miners Circle Cemetery in back of Laurel Branch Church near Briceville on TN 116. On December 9, 1911, 84 miners Cross Mountain Miners died after being trapped by an explosion. Twenty-two of the miners were buried around a circular monument.
CLICK HERE for the architecture and art of the area.
( interesting photos !
This truck tire garden in Rosedale on 116 was featured in Better Homes and Gardens a few years ago.