Top Five Charleston Roads for Riders
Words & Photo: David Owens
May is usually a busy month for bikers in Charleston, with lots of riders making the three hour trip from the Myrtle Beach rally. But it’s a beautiful place to ride any time of year. Here, in no particular order, are five rides you should check out if you’re visiting the Holy City, for the Bike Week rally, or just as an enthusiastic rider.
SC Hwy 174 to Edisto Beach
This road includes everything that makes the lowcountry such a great place to ride. A winding two lane highway takes you through small towns, rural farming areas, live oak canopies draped with Spanish moss, marshland, and you end up at the Atlantic ocean. What more could you ask for? There are enough curves in the road to keep things interesting, and around almost every one of them, you'll discover a scenic view, historic church, or some other interesting landmark. A definite highlight of the ride is when the McKinley Washington, Jr. Bridge over the intracoastal waterway seems to appear out of nowhere in the vast marshland. High over the water you have a great view of the waterway and boats cruising below.
Guerins Bridge Road
Admittedly, you won't find much in the way of twisties around Charleston. The closest you can get to them is seven miles of riding heaven known as Guerins Bridge Rd. Take Hwy 17 out of Mt. Pleasant about ten miles. A quarter mile or so after the Seewee Outpost, be on the lookout for Guerins Bridge Rd. on the left. Starting at 17 and ending at Halfway Creek Rd, Guerins Bridge Rd will get you about as close to “riding the dragon” as you can in the lowcountry. I’ve heard that many of the severe angles and other curves in the road resulted from landowners having enough political clout when the road was made to make it go around their properties instead of through them. Whatever the reason for its twists and turns, this road is one of the funnest to ride locally and on a sunny day, you’ll likely see other motorcyclists there enjoying it.
SC Hwy 61 from West Ashley to Givhans Ferry
Once you get out of the Charleston city limits, this two lane road offers some of the best riding in the lowcountry. Like the ride to Edisto beach, SC 61, which has been officially declared a scenic highway, also features great examples of live oak canopies. I've ridden this road dozens of times and I still see something new about every time I’m on it.
Highway 61 includes historic locations such as Magnolia Plantation, Middleton Place, and Drayton Hall along the way. As a result, the road is well traveled by tourists, and you'll likely have to hit the brakes a few times as they pull off to see the sites. As you continue on 61 past Summerville, the landscape becomes more rural. About 25 miles out of Charleston, you come to the small town of Givhans Ferry, a good place to stop and take in the sites of Givhans Ferry State Park.
SC 45 Between Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion
Riding SC 45 around the lowcountry’s man-made lakes offers many opportunities to enjoy expansive scenic views and waterside stops. Head out of Monck’s corner on SC 6/West Main Street. After SC 6 meets up with SC 311, enjoy the ride for another five or so miles until you come to SC 45. Take a right onto 45 and after a couple of miles, you’ll cross the Diversion Canal, which connects Lake Moultrie to Lake Marion. The bridge over the canal is a highlight of the trip, with a great view of the totally Kudzu covered, high walls of the waterway. You’ll see lots of boat activity. Canal Lake Fish Camp is on the left and Hill’s Landing on the right. The area is worth a stop to take in all the activity or grab a bite to eat for sure.
True, we don’t have any mountains in Charleston, but we’ve got the next best thing: the Ravenel Bridge. Whether heading into town or out, you can’t beat the spectacular view of the harbor and USS Yorktown aircraft carrier from the bridge while riding a motorcycle. Passing over container ships and enjoying the sites, it doesn’t get much better on a motorcycle in the lowcountry.