Riding the Rattler
October 19, 2014
By Robert Rainer
Photographs by Peter Wrenn

Euro Festival at BMW Manufacturing drew large crowds of Porsche cars which was the featured marque this year. It had just ended, and the weather was gorgeous. The Upstate Area planned a drive on the following Sunday with the hopes of catching fall color at its peak. Fall is late this year and we were only able to catch small pockets of color, but the roads we chose are nothing short of spectacular. We chose to “Ride the Rattler”, a stretch of road between Hot Springs, NC and Lake Junaluska. We had a good representation of Porsches from a mint 944 turbo, to a Boxster, a Cayenne, a 996 and a 928. So there were many different and unique experiences (4-8 cylinders).

Staging for the Ride
Staging for the Ride

We decided to meet close to the Asheville airport as many people came from all over the upstate. There was a brisk coolness in the air, but bright sunshine. Heading out on our journey shortly after 9 am, we headed towards Asheville. Going through Asheville my radar detector light up several times as I am sure we attracted a great deal of attention. No one was "actually" speeding, but as you all know, the Interstate in Asheville can use some improving. So we headed up the future I26.

Socializing at a Break
Socializing at a Break

A short trip north of Asheville was all that was required to get on the secondary roads, and US70 was a fun drive. A nice 4 lane in the beginning led to a fun and twisty road with some great elevation changes as we followed the French Broad River. While a slow moving pick up truck temporarily held us up, the driver had the courtesy to pull over and let our group by. You have to love drivers who are aware of their surroundings, and secretly wish they were in a Porsche. We crossed the French Broad River and entered the town of Hot Springs, our first stop of the day.

A Rest Stop Along the Way
A Rest Stop Along the Way

Initially we parked in front of the fire station, and began to notice the ubiquitous no parking signs, so decided it would be better to cross the street and park. After a short walk on the Appalachian Trail ( it runs through the downtown area), we drove to the end of town and made a left. This is the beginning of the Rattler. Yes we had high expectations for this stretch of road, and no one in the group had driven it before.

One of the Spectacular Views
One of the Spectacular Views
The Rattler Sign
The Rattler Sign

The Rattler, NC 209 has a little bit of everything a road warrior is looking for - pastoral valley views, challenging mountain climbs, twisty and tight technical sections all intermixed in your journey. The ride is 24 miles and has over 290 turns. The initial section out of Hot Springs offers some sharp hairpin turns as it climbs into the national forest. It's a tight and technical ride through sharp and challenging curves that will rival the most challenging roads you can find. There are wonderful vistas that overlook the river with a couple of unpaved overlooks along the way. We did not stop!

Roberts Rattler Window Sticker
Roberts Rattler Window Sticker

A few more curves through the woods bring you to the long straight section of road which crosses broad Spring Valley. Enjoy the break from the twisty sections, it's short lived, but absolutely beautiful. You'll arrive at the junction with NC 63 at Trust. The valley soon narrows and the road rejoins the stream, winding and twisting along its banks for the next several miles. Soon, you will begin another climb with another set of wonderful technical turns. You will come out by Ferguson's Supply which is a nice stopping point filled with locals. There were lots of smiles to be seen on the drivers as they pulled into the parking lot.

We regrouped, and headed off to Waynesville where we stopped for lunch. After lunch we drove up the mountain to cross into Pisgah National Forest. The color here did not disappoint. The Rattler is an accessible road to many of us. Just about a half hour north of Asheville with great access to I40. We certainly have some wonderful roads that are tailor made for our cars. The Rattler is certainly something every Porsche owner should experience, and we of the Upstate Area are glad we can share our experience with you.