Charleston’s flat landscape may not be ideal for mountain biking, but the beautiful marshland scenery, eclectic downtown area, and temperate year-round climate make the city one of the best places to cycle. Exploring downtown by bicycle is an excellent way to soak in the charming architecture and discover hidden alleyways. If you decide to venture off the peninsula, you can challenge yourself with a ride across the Ravenel Bridge or cruise along the beautiful Sullivan’s Island beach. Whatever type of adventure you’re seeking, there are plenty of stunning places to cycle in Charleston.
South of Broad to White Point Gardens
Located at the tip of the downtown peninsula, the South of Broad neighborhood is one of the wealthiest areas in Charleston. Extravagant, notable mansions line the streets in this area rich with traditional Charleston architecture and history. If you don’t plan on bringing your bike into town, you can rent one from a nearby shop or download the Social Bicycle app and use the bikes found at stations throughout the city.
Pick up one of these bikes from the station at Colonial Lake, on the corner of Rutledge Avenue and Broad Street, and then follow Rutledge south. This route will take you through the prestigious South of Broad neighborhood where you can sneak glimpses of million dollar homes behind ivy-covered walls. Look out for the quaint yet elegant miniature gardens in the front and side yards of many homes. Continue riding south until you’ve reached Murray Boulevard, a curved street that follows the harbor. This area of town is known as the Battery. The grandest, most expensive mansions on the peninsula line this street, which is best known as the place where the Civil War began.
If you’re looking to get a quick workout in, Hampton Park is one of the greatest places to cycle in Charleston. Located in the residential area of the peninsula known as Wagener Terrace, Hampton Park is the city’s largest green space with an extensive floral collection and a duck pond. Ride on the dirt paths that cross through the park, or take a few laps in the bike lane on the road that circles the park. During the spring and summer months, the street is blocked to traffic on the weekends, allowing pedestrians and cyclists full access to the area. Check the Charleston County website for more details.
Easily one of the most popular places to cycle in Charleston, the Ravenel Bridge is a well-recognized suspension bridge that stretches 2.5 miles (four kilometers) from downtown Charleston to Mount Pleasant. Ride north up East Bay Street from downtown to get on the bridge, and then pause midway through to enjoy the spectacular view above the water. If you’re looking for a challenging workout, ride down the other half into the town of Mount Pleasant. When you reach the other side, follow the sidewalk that runs parallel to the bridge to spend some time on the Mount Pleasant Pier, which extends into the Cooper River. The ride back to downtown is much more difficult, so be prepared to break a sweat.
Located on the Mount Pleasant side of the Ravenel Bridge, Sullivan’s Island is a sleepy little beach town with great restaurants, cafés, and historic sites. Biking around this area is easy with light traffic on most of the streets. Discover beautiful beachfront mansions or ride along the shore to Fort Moultrie on the western end of the beach. Recognized as a National Monument, Fort Moultrie played a vital role in the American Revolutionary War, Civil War, and even WWII. Rest here to watch for dolphins, and then continue by bike to the iconic Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse.
Francis Marion National Park
You’ll have to drive about 45 minutes outside of town to access the bike trails in the Francis Marion National Park, but it’s worth the trek if you’re looking for an adventurous ride. Traverse part of the 425-mile (684-kilometer) Palmetto Trail, which passes through maritime forests and swampy woodlands. The network of trails at the Francis Marion National Park is one of the best places to cycle in Charleston for mountain bikers.