Living in South Carolina for 28 years, I’ve done quite a bit of traveling around South Carolina both in the upstate and low country. Having been a while since I visited Edisto, one cold February morning, I got on BJ and headed east. I have to say when I got the opportunity to write for Carolina Cycles doing the thing I love more than golf, bowling, softball, well you get the picture, it gave me the opportunity to share my adventures during my rides around South Carolina. Here is a little history regarding Edisto Island and the natural beauty the Edisto Island Scenic Byway has to offer. Did I mention my favorite restaurant on Edisto Beach, Whaley’s?
Researching Edisto Island, I discovered interesting tidbits about it. Did you know that in the 1550’s Edisto Indians, a tribe of the Cusabo Indians, caught seafood and grew crops in this area only to disappear in the 1750s due to displacement and disease? Or that, during 1660-1680, ‘English Lord Proprietors’ of South and North Carolina purchased land from the Indians and granted land on Edisto and surrounding islands to grow rice. Rice remained the major crop through the 1700-70s and was exported in record amounts to European and Caribbean buyers. Cotton became ‘King’ in 1785 only to be ended by boll weevil during the 1920s. Edisto Beach formation began in 1925 on then named McConkey’s Island only to be destroyed by a hurricane in 1940. However, during the 1970s Edisto Beach began development as a year-round community and in 1993 the McKinley Washington Jr. Bridge opened linking Edisto Island to the mainland. Wow! Who knew?!
The road was excellent, but a narrow two-lane road that took me along the Edisto Island National Scenic Byway, highway 174, over the McKinley Washington Jr. Bridge onto Edisto Island and then into Edisto Beach. Entering Edisto beach, everything I had researched about Edisto was confirmed by the many beach cottages and homes that lined Edisto Beach. Finding one of the small beach access parking lots, not paved I might add, I ventured out to the beach. Untouched by commercialism, I enjoyed looking out over the Atlantic Ocean and south to Hunting and St. Helena Islands!
Having arrived in Edisto Beach around noon, I was ready for lunch and was happy to find a popular eatery called Whaley’s. Locals and visitors favorite restaurant offered seafood or ½ lb. hamburger and homemade potato chips. What did I choose? The ‘Big Ugly Burger,’ garnished with a ½ lb. of lean ground ‘ugly’ beef on a Kaiser roll with lettuce, tomato, pickle, and onion which included a side of raw fries and cole slaw. All for about $11. However, the menu had a more extensive selection than I’m depicting here.
I’ll admit I thoroughly enjoyed riding to the low country. My route of choice when riding south of Charleston to Edisto and Beaufort appears in the map below. This route took me mostly along 136 miles of well-maintained two-lane roads through farmlands, small towns, and beautiful marshland with its marsh covered trees. My trip took approximately 2 hrs. and 45 minutes, so plan on an all-day excursion. However, joy is in the journey. So, choose a route that suits your taste in travel, whether that is leisurely back road or the fast pace of interstate travel.
My route from Lexington.
SC-6 E. Taking US-321 S, Char-Augusta Rd, SC-61 E and Round O Rd to SC-174 in Edisto Beach