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  1. #1
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    Southeastern US: Away from the ACA routes

    I'm currently in the middle of a not-exclusively-by-bicycle bike tour, meaning I'm not opposed to taking trains, renting cars, etc. as it makes sense to do so. With that in mind, I'm planning on riding from Savannah, GA to Charleston, SC soon, but from there I plan on going off the typical ACA route.

    I have a few things I'd like to visit in the GA / SC / NC / TN region, and I'm trying to figure out a way to string them all together. From Charleston, I'm thinking of riding to Congaree National Park. I'd like to visit the Great Smoky Mountains, too, so I'm thinking Congaree → Columbia → Greenville → Asheville, and then I can figure out if maybe I'd rather rent a car to see GSM NP. I'd also like to visit Nashville, Chattanooga, and then Atlanta after that. I figure I can take the Silver Comet Trail after that if I want to keep going west.

    Does anyone have any experience riding in any of these areas? Any recommended routes, any suggested adjustments to my plans, any "if you're in that region, you have to ride xyz because it's a beautiful ride"s?

    Thanks in advance for any thoughts!

  2. #2
    Walmart bike rider gpsblake's Avatar
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    I live in South Carolina.... Excellent plan in my opinion... The google maps from Charleston to Congaree are excellent, US 176 outside of metro Charleston area is lightly traveled. And once you are out of Columbia metro area (Ballentine), US 176 again becomes a lightly traveled route. Greenville has a good rail trail system that can get you into the heart of the city and back out of the city but the suburbs will be traffic. US 25 is well known for it's climb and well used in the Greenville cycling community although there are plenty of good alternatives to getting from Greenville to Asheville as well.
    Last edited by gpsblake; 03-24-15 at 06:10 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrandpaSkittles View Post
    I'm currently in the middle of a not-exclusively-by-bicycle bike tour, meaning I'm not opposed to taking trains, renting cars, etc. as it makes sense to do so. With that in mind, I'm planning on riding from Savannah, GA to Charleston, SC soon, but from there I plan on going off the typical ACA route.

    I have a few things I'd like to visit in the GA / SC / NC / TN region, and I'm trying to figure out a way to string them all together. From Charleston, I'm thinking of riding to Congaree National Park. I'd like to visit the Great Smoky Mountains, too, so I'm thinking Congaree → Columbia → Greenville → Asheville, and then I can figure out if maybe I'd rather rent a car to see GSM NP. I'd also like to visit Nashville, Chattanooga, and then Atlanta after that. I figure I can take the Silver Comet Trail after that if I want to keep going west.

    Does anyone have any experience riding in any of these areas? Any recommended routes, any suggested adjustments to my plans, any "if you're in that region, you have to ride xyz because it's a beautiful ride"s?

    Thanks in advance for any thoughts!
    I rode across TN, then across Great Smokies, and up the Blue Ridge parkway through NC and VA back in July/August 2008. My first piece of advice is not to ride too much in the heat of the summer (although the higher elevations on the BRP were not too bad). Newfound Gap road in Great Smokies was not very much fun. Its 13 miles up climbing, with no shoulder and a tremendous amount of car traffic. The Blue Ridge parkway was good (again, not much of a shoulder but not so much car traffic in most places). Most of the ride across Tennessee was on various secondary highways, and those weren't too bad except near the larger towns. I remember the suburbs of Nashville being particularly bad.

  4. #4
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    Roads in the Smokies are virtually empty before 10:00, the tourists like to sleep late. By early afternoon, make sure you're at the top of a ridge heading downhill to your destination (Cherokee, Gatlinburg, or Townsend). The exception is the road from Townsend to Cades Cove on Wednesdays and Saturdays, when Knoxville drives over to the Cove to ride their bikes in the mornings.

    Cherohala Skyway and the Tail of the Dragon (U.S. 129 from outside Vonore across the N.C. state line) are gorgeous, although you'll have to share the Dragon with hordes of motorcyclists on weekends. Foothills Parkway (west side, not the east near Cosby) is another great bicycle ride, and usually lightly trafficed. Make sure you take plenty of water, it's even scarcer here than on the BRP.

    There's a good number of scenic rides towards/around the Cumberland Plateau in middle Tennessee; you might want to check with bike clubs around Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Nashville to pick the good ones to bike on.

  5. #5
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    I thought I'd post an update in my own thread in case it helps anyone in the future. My plans changed a bit and I don't plan on riding across the Appalachians, but I ended up riding Savannah to Charleston and then Charleston to Greenville (SC). I thought I'd post some info if it helps anyone in the future.

    - Savannah to Charleston: There's quite a bit of info on this route out there already, but I want to chime in that I thought the last part (going to Charleston) was well past my personal danger:fun ratio. In particular, US-17 from Jacksonboro to the start of the West Ashley Greenway I thought was completely unsafe for cycling. There is no shoulder, the speed-limit is 60 mi/h, and there is significant commuter and truck traffic. I know others ride it--I saw some guy presumably commuting--but for me if I am ever in a position to ride between these two cities I would make as roundabout of a path as needed to avoid this stretch. It was the only time I felt scared on a bike on any of my (admittedly small number of) tours.

    - I found this website: SC Trails Bike Guide Intro. I thought the route from Charleston area to Greenville area seemed pretty reasonable from the parts I was on or paralleled.

    - I followed gpsblake's advice above and followed US-176 a lot. I agree that in general it (and US-76 further north) were fine to ride on. The parts near Charleston were busy with no shoulders and some occasionally angry drivers honking, but once you're out of the Charleston metro area it is pretty okay.

    - I went Charleston to Santee SP to Congaree NP to Columbia, and then basically followed US-76 to Laurens where I took SR-14 to the eastern part of Greenville. Again, once past Charleston area, I thought it was pretty smooth sailing.

    - The eastern suburbs of Greenville (read: urban sprawl) are not bike friendly with lots of traffic, often no sidewalks, and often no shoulders. Downtown Greenville is super bike friendly, and the northern parts around Travelers Rest and Paris Mountain SP were also bike friendly... though the hills were a change from riding along the coast. :-p

    Hope this is of use to someone in the future, and I appreciate all the feedback from everyone above! If I end up riding anymore in the area I'll update this post.
    Last edited by GrandpaSkittles; 04-15-15 at 04:35 PM.

  6. #6
    Walmart bike rider gpsblake's Avatar
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    Glad you posted this. US 76 once you get west of Chapin isn't that bad at all for a US route, I've ridden it from Chapin to Laurens in sections, plus it follows a railroad keeping it nearly flat for that entire route except for one good hill east of Laurens.

    Would be nice to have an easy way to get into Charleston on a bike.

    Glad it worked out for you. Did you upload pics or a journal???

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