The Serpent's Scale
Map & Directions Below
The Serpent's Scale is a quick round trip run of about 47 miles from Lake Hope or it can be added to the Heart of the Serpent for a longer day ride, the Serpent's Scale takes you cruising down paved backroads, over ridges, through hollers, alongside creeks both blue and red from mine drainage, past many Serpent's Bones, and across the Eakin Mill Covered Bridge - the only one you can still drive through in Vinton County. You cross over I-32 in favor of winding, paved backroads with minimal traffic and multiple opportunities to say, "Wow!" and "Hang on!"
Start at Lake Hope, head south on SR 278 to Hwy 50, go east. In less than a mile, at the bottom of the big hill, turn right onto Old Hwy 50 then right at the top of the hill and stay right to get onto Union Ridge Road, a long, meandering ride through rural homesteads and forest, then stay right at the stop sign at the bottom to access Hwy 32. Take a right and then the first right back off the freeway onto Arbaugh Rd. Turn left onto CR 38A and ride across the reconstructed Eakin Mills Covered Bridge. Right on Hwy 32 to SR 160, turn right.
Sidewinder - If you want a side jaunt on a pretty roughly paved road, go left on I-32 to Thompsonville Rd left off of the highway. Go past the Campbell Tunnel (see picture below) first view of tunnel on right about 1/2 mile down but barking dogs at trailer so go up and over the hill and down to the other entrance - see an old RR tunnel almost 900 feet long, hand carved from the rock!
Cross I-32 on SR 160 through Radcliff and wind along the outer edge of Vinton Experimental Forest past scenic ruins from the railroad. Turn right onto SR 324 toward Dundas, then right again in Dundas onto Vinton Station Road, which looks from this direction like the first hill of an old school roller coaster as it ascends the hill. Survey a several year old clearcut. Pop out onto Hwy 50, quick right then left onto SR 677 past Austin Powder into Zaleski and meet SR 278 back to Lake Hope. You've ridden the Serpent's Scale, and it might be time for a celebratory swim in the lake or a nap beneath a tree.
Turn by Turn Directions:
SR 278 S from Lake Hope
Left on Hwy 50 E
Right at bottom of hill onto Old Hwy 50
Right at top of hill on Union Ridge Rd - CR 6 (not onto Harkins Chapel)
Right at stop sign on Vales Mill Rd to I-32
Right on I-32
First right onto Arbaugh Rd (CR 43B)
First left onto CR 38A and cross covered bridge (!)
Right on Hwy 32
Right on SR 160 (unless hang left to Thomsonville Rd and Campbell Tunnel - N 39° 07.267 W 082° 22.877)
Right SR 324 N
Right in Dundas on Vinton Station Rd (CR 24)
Right on Hwy 50 E
Immediate left onto SR 677 to Zaleski
Left onto SR 278 N to Lake Hope
44 miles - about 1.2 hours
The Serpent's Scale - map
From Lake Hope, you can also access this route by going straight across from the dam onto Hope/Moonville Rd and turning right onto Wheelabout Rd. Follow it through the forest (paved, but rough and often has debris) and stay straight onto State Forest Rd, again stay straight at the 4 way onto Brooks-Martin Rd, which will take you to Hwy 50. Cross 50 with a slight jog and you're on the path to Union Ridge Rd.