Charleston, South Carolina is a southern city on the Atlantic Ocean that has history dating back to the 1600’s and it’s grown into a modern city that blends tourism, industry, and a rapidly growing tech sector. This coastal city is known for it Low Country cuisine and its unique blend of Gullah culture along with antebellum period southern charm.
One of the nice things about Charleston from a motorcyclists perspective is it’s location. It’s in an area where you can ride all year round and it gives you access to the Blue Ridge Parkway, Appalachia, and the Great Smokey Mountain National Park within a half days ride. While many of the riders head inland towards some of the best paved and off road riding on the East Coast, some great riding can be found just outside the city.
Seeing how I had slow work week I decided to take an early morning ride down to Edisto Island. Previously, I’ve ridden this area before on my Kawasaki KLR 650 when I rode the coastal segment of the South Carolina Adventure Route. For this ride I would take my 2014 Triumph Tiger 800 which would be very well suited for riding pavement as well as the dirt and sand roads that are common on many of the islands along South Carolina’s coast.
I started my ride from the West Ashley area of Charleston and rode down US Highway 17 before I linked up with the Edisto Island Scenic Byway (SC Highway 174) near the small town of Hollywood. The distance from Charleston to the start of the Edisto Island Scenic Byway is roughly 20 miles and is a perfect day trip for not only local riders but those who want to experience what it’s like to ride on an untamed barrier island. For 18 miles the Byway meanders its way through White Oak canopies, salt marshes, and crosses coastal rivers and streams.
Since it was a Tuesday, traffic wasn’t bad but keep in mind that Edisto Island is somewhat of a beach area and can get popular with beach traffic on the weekends. It took me an hour to ride all the way down to the end of the Byway which takes you into the small resort town of Edisto Beach. For a beach town it’s fairly quiet compared to the nearby towns of Folly Beach and Isle of Palms.
After having a quick snack break on the beach I decided to head back up the Edisto Island Scenic Byway and start exploring the side roads. All of these roads were of the out and back variety but they all had something unique about them. One that I was really interested in was the access road to the Botany Bay Wildlife Management Area. Unfortunately the Wildlife Management Area was closed however, it’s one mile long access road was open and was quite the riding experience. Most places that I have ridden out in the Rockies or in the Mid West are almost always under a clear sky however, in South Carolina its fairly common to ride under a dense canopy of oak trees.
I explored the island’s side roads for a few hours and then decided it was time to escape the quiet island life and head back to the hustle and bustle of Charleston. On the way back I did make it a point to stop at Kings Farm Market before I left the island to pick up some fresh veggies and to indulge in one of their locally brewed root beers. I strongly recommend that riders stop here to get some fresh sweet corn as well as squash and zucchini’s.
On the way back I decided to branch off the Edison Island Scenic Byway and take South Carolina State Highway 165. With all times that I’ve ridden in this area, this was a road that I had never ridden before and I was surprised. This road was quite curvy as it cut through a unique blend of farms and vacation homes before ending in Ravenel and intersecting with US Highway 17.
Riding down to Edisto Island was a great morning ride before the heat and humidity set in and was roughly over 80 miles with most of it on pavement. For services, theirs plenty of gas in the area as well as places to eat ranging from fast food to the local Sea Cow Café in Edisto Beach. If someone wanted to make this a longer trip and spend time at the beaches, Edisto Beach State Park is right up the road and has some great tent camping spots with some being a short walk from the beaches. Edisto Beach is also loaded with several vacation rentals right on the beach as well as in the central part of the town. If your looking for a quick island escape without some of the hassles and tourism of the more well known areas then Edisto Island has quite a bit to offer.