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Take Me To Your Special Place

Chris Haining January 7, 2016 All Things Hoon 33 Comments


For us keen drivers, the road is our playground.

Well, this certainly used to be the case, but entirely too many of our former favourites have been ruined and all the fun squeezed out of them, whether it be from nanny state shutting down the party with speed cameras and arcane rulings, or simply because too many “other drivers” have the bare-faced cheek to use your favourite stretch of road at the same time as you.

Let’s celebrate, while we still can, those little slithers of blacktop that we can still have fun on. If you’re up for a bit of crowd participation, I want to see whatever local road you hold dear, on which you know you can still find joy. I’ll show you mine after the jump.

This is my go-to route for checking vehicle chassis, balance, grip, etc. You know; research.

You can put your foot to the floor as soon as you leave the 30mph village limit and almost immediately plunge down hill ready for an extremely tight right hander with a slightly negative camber, followed by a slightly uphill straight into a left hander you need to take in third, keeping the turbo spooling if you can. Then it’s foot down into a gentle right hand bend leading to another third gear left hander. A quick right-left flick heralds the arrival of a seemingly endless uphill sweeper to the right, flanked by a steep grassy hill down which people go “Zorbing”. It’s a negative camber and slippery when wet, so get ready to react, then apply more power to the exit ready for the final uphill charge before reaching the next village speed limit, and the end of the fun.

What I don’t want to do here is encourage a speedy demise of any “fun zones” that this article might identify, so I’ve anonymised the map as well as I can. Also, it should be mentioned, before I state the obvious that pedestrians, cyclists, horses and other road users must be given space and that spirited driving need not be dangerous. Huge fun can be had on this route without exceeding any speed limits, too.

Is there a road that you rely on for your blacktop jollies? Please give us a peek into your own local route of dreams in the comments below.

(Lead image from riderdiaries.wordpress.com)

  • Jason Hopkins

    There are too many to list in my area of New Hampshire, but one of the local favorites is a knarley stretch called Hurricane Mountain Road in North Conway, NH. It’s a test of skill, balls, and your brakes.

    • dead_elvis

      It’s the only road on which I’ve gotten daylight under both wheels of the ZRX. Yikes. 10/10 would rather take a 450 cc supermoto across next time.

      Rte 123 between Alstead & Rte 9 in SW NH is less gnarly, but excellent.

  • Greg Kachadurian

    My happy place is Georgia 348 up in the north Georgia mountains.

    It’s a gorgeous place with an awesome series of sweepers and crazy elevation changes. It just has a nice rhythm to it I guess. It isn’t crazy tight like Tail of the Dragon but it has a better mix of slow, medium, fast corners. Whether you’re going down hill or up it’s a fun way to test yourself and your car. The problem with it is that there aren’t many turnoffs at all, so if you get stuck behind someone slow it’s game over. I go early in the morning and have it pretty much all to myself.

    There are a couple nice vista points up at the top which is where I got the photo for this year’s calendar cover and the “what’s your automotive news” section in the news.

  • Citric

    Locally, there’s a dirt road in the Qu’Appelle valley that I can never remember the precise location of that was a nice, pleasant surprise. There are a few decent roads in that area, but this was a dirt road marked by a sign that said “danger” which was basically a secret rally special stage in the middle of nowhere.

    But the road of my dreams remains this one:

  • bigredcavetroll

    The roads around the Lake Lure/Bat Cave, NC area are a hoot, although I don’t live around them. I’ve made myself car sick from playing on them too much. Once I was driving my 1986 535i around there and tailing an S2000, which was great fun.

  • mikeinappalachia

    Ohio Rt. 78 from Glouster to McConnelsville. At one time, Car and Drivers preferred car test road.

  • mve

    Forest Route 20, also known as the Mountain Loop Highway, between Granite Falls and Darrington, WA. It is a glorious blast through Cascade Mountains, including 20 miles of dirt and gravel one-lane road. It is essentially an old logging road, and follows the Stillaguamish and Sauk Rivers. It’s where I filmed and uploaded my first (and only) YouTube video on an admittedly busy travel weekend. I love getting lost on this road, where there is no cell signal, and sometimes no traffic for miles. The paved road is fun, of course, but the tight, twisty dirt road is really what it’s all about.

    • Alff

      One of my favorite runs when I lived there. Truth be told, the Northwest is chock full of great roads, thanks to the topography.

      • For the topography, in turn, one may thank the geology.

        • mve

          May one thank physics for the geology?

          • Not that we’re prepared to admit, no.

        • Alff

          …and for geology, we may thank Geologists I suppose.

        • Vairship

          And the meteorology!
          Both the kind that deals with weather, as well as the meteorites…

      • mve

        Darrington has a lot of good memories for me – the camp north of town anyway – so I also enjoy going out there. Really, any time I’m driving away from Seattle itself, I am happy.

        • Alff

          Chuckanut Drive south of Bellingham is another great run

        • “…any time I’m driving away from Seattle itself….”

          • mve

            Nothing against the big town. I just feel relief when I leave the city.

  • ptschett

    It’s hard to find fun roads when you live in a place that was the middle of a glacial meltwater lake bottom about 10,000 years ago. Fortunately, the glaciers also left more-interesting terrain to my northeast in Minnesota. If I can spare a few hours on a weekend I’ll head for this section of MN-113 southwest of Lake Itasca.

    • ptschett

      Another favorite was this stretch between my parents’ house and the family farm, which hasn’t been quite the same since the slight chicane in the north-central part was straightened when the bridge was replaced. I think it’s posted at 30 MPH now. The one time I most egregiously attacked it in the parents’ ’93 Cadillac STS, when I was very young and stupid, I don’t think I dropped below 55…

      • mve

        Make no mistake, a 93 STS is the right car.

        • Vairship

          Driving a wallowy car fast is a blast!

  • Marto

    Mt Nebo-Mt Glorious Road, just west of Brisbane.

    See the video: The run starts as just a suburban street, but, suddenly, dramatically, the sprawling 2-million-population metropolis just … stops. After that sweeping uphill right-hander you’re facing 35 miles of constant mountain corners.

    The road has lots of of bikers, lots of crashes and lots of cops. But the cops can’t touch you though if you are under the speed limit. It’s officially 80 km/h (50mph) on a narrow road with corners where half that pace is fear-of-God speed.

    • mve


  • Maymar

    It’s not much, but this little s-curve is right towards the end of my commute home makes for a fun little blast when I don’t have anyone in front of me. The intersection (which is where three major roads cross each other) is slated for redevelopment to be more pedestrian-friendly (which is really needed, as the neighbourhood’s sort of desolate right now), so it’ll go away eventually. It’ll be fun while it lasts though.

    And yeah, with everything being reasonably flat and laid out in grids, southern Ontario doesn’t have a ton of great roads.

    • Kind of reminds me of the City route in Need For Speed

  • In central Ohio, there isn’t much in the way of fun roads, so I try to make the most of every turn. On my side of town, Smith-Calhoun and Amity roads along Big Darby Creek is reasonably fun and not too heavily traveled, although S-C is narrow & has some blind corners. Still, when coming home from Marysville and places to the NW and I’ve got time, I detour through there.

  • Wayward David

    It’s odd to mention the same stretch of road in two comments on the same day, but I grew up in the shadow of California’s San Gabriel Mountains and spent my younger days hooning up Glendora Mountain Road to Angeles Crest Highway (when it was open; the connector between the two washed out frequently). Nowadays Angeles Crest seems to be a go-to destination for auto journo types testing performance and handling.

    Another sweet spot I drove frequently for a few years is CA 78 between Escondido and Ramona. It’s mostly a flat, straight two lane highway but there’s a canyon stretch just before Ramona that’s nice and twisty but relatively flat. I always looked forward to that part of my two-hour drive to band practice.

  • Frank T. Cat

    This is my favorite driving route within a short distance of my house… Unless I want to pretend I’m a rally car driver; then it’s the stretch of Fox Hill Road between Lake Desolation and the Sacandaga reservoir.

    • Frank T. Cat

      Bonus: the special place I’d go on lunch breaks at one of my previous jobs..

  • Sjalabais

    Just about every road in Western Norway is a hoot to drive. They are still basically roads with a 1970s standard, following the landscape instead of cutting through it. For most people, that’s a problem. Try to achieve an average speed above 60kph on a long drive and any number of passengers in your car might puke. It’s worth the driver’s grin though. Here’s a couple of local photos:

    My commute, one neat stretch seen from the opposing mountain:

    View of my home village from a spot on my commute:

    Nearby view from a “bridge to nowhere”:

    But the best road I can recommend would be RV55, across the Sogne-mountains (“sognefjellet” for Google). It has everything: Steep declines, serpentines, “jumpy” roads, stunning views. Just don’t do it in summer – that devolves to RV slalom.


  • caltemus

    Mount caramel highway through zion national park at sunrise has the best road I’ve ever had the pleasure of driving on. Mountain switchbacks with stunning vistas and plenty of tunnels to blast through. Cooked the brakes on a 2015 Impala classic

    • Sjalabais

      Wow, that just looks amazing.

  • JayP

    Just about any road in the foothills of the Appalachians.
    Google “Tazewell to Marion”.

    Update- it’s been discovered and is called the “Back of the Dragon”


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