Appalachia’s Roads Are Under-Appreciated Driving Goodness

Maybe I’ve been deft of good driving roads, but West Virginia, Southwest Pennsylvania, and even Pittsburgh have great driving roads. Am I crazy?

Ohio’s an OK place to live. It’s got a decent job market, cheap housing, and is easily accessible to much more interesting places. Yet, unlike my west coast co-workers, I don’t have access to the sculped canyon roads that they regularly brag about traversing in our work Slack channels. Ugh, fuck them. Columbus is a much younger city than Cincinnati and Cleveland are, and the terrain is much flatter than those two cities. So, most of my roads are broad and long, and straight – but there are still great routes to ride within driving distance.

I recently ventured to the tip of Appalachia to pick up some stuff for my Abarth. Rolling down I-70 west through southeast Ohio, the West Virginia panhandle, southwest Pennsylvania rewarded me with gorgeous views of the mountains and springtime foliage that populates the sides of the rock faces. Everything in Appalachia is built on the side of a hill, so houses are often times lofted and very close to the street, and roads have to wind up and down and around hills and through mountains.

Appalachia’s Roads Are Under-Appreciated Driving Goodness
Image: WV Tourism

Maybe I’ve been deft of good driving roads but it seems to me that West Virginia, southwest Pennsylvania, and even the Pittsburgh area have great strips of pavement to drive on. Am I crazy? Some of my PA/WV readers probably think I’m insane, but it’s true! You guys don’t know what you’ve got.

Nearly every road I’ve encountered on my trip was fast, winding, and tight. The roads there follow the natural terrain, flowing and winding. The drivers all seem to know their cars more than a comparative Columbusite, lost on I-71’s completely straight and flat canter. Are the roads the best kept? Eh, nah, there are definitely more potholes, washout, and ragged shoulders than I’d see in Ohio. But as long as you’re paying attention, your car probably won’t get swallowed.

I regretted taking the Fiat 500L instead of the Abarth or even my Chevy Sonic on that trip. The 500L did okay, but it was a waste having a big ol’ hoggish breadvan lumbering around delicate curves, compared to a much tighter small car.

Like the rest of the country, trucks and SUVs abound in Appalachia. I don’t know why, if I lived here I’d drive a sporty car every day of the week, just to take advantage of those dreamy roads.

I almost certainly know I’ll stand alone in this, but Appalachia’s got some dope ass roads that I’m definitely going to revisit this summer.

If you’ve spent any time in this area and have some specific tips on where to drive, please share in the comments! For everybody else who might have written off this region as a fun place to drive, think again, and check it out if you ever get the chance.

Kevin Williams

Kevin WilliamsKevin's been into cars his entire life, anything from the tiny kei cars in Japan, to the maybe not-so-good American barges of the 1980s. He's flipped more than 25 cars, only lost money twice, and has known how to make his dollar stretch as far as it can. If he ain't talking about cars, he's probably snacking on something sweet and cakey. Contact the author here.