Which way should I go?

Follow the Adventure Cycling Route all the way
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No harm in going off route via 17: it's bike friendly
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Author Topic: Atlantic Coast question from St. Augustine, FL to Wilmington, NC  (Read 6941 times)

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Offline JLee82

Good afternoon fellow riders  8)!

I'm planning a ride that goes from Key West to just south of Elizabeth City, NC (potentially up to Arlington National Cemetary) as a Remembrance ride.  I purchased the the Atlantic Coast Route maps, and upon further examination, it looks like the route goes inland starting just N or Jacksonville until you get back to Wilmington, NC.

I was hoping to use US17 to get through to Savannah, Charleston, and other Southern Coastal cities/towns.  Does anyone have any experience riding the Atlantic Coast route, and would it be advisable to use the maps for that versus relying on Google nav on my phone, and riding US17 (at that point Ocean Highway)?  Not sure how bike friendly/unfriendly that route would be.

Any and all advice would be appreciated. Also, on a separate note, if anyone wants to join me for all or portions of the ride, feel free to PM me, and I'll send you the link to the FB event page.

Thanks in advance!

Offline CMajernik

Re: Atlantic Coast question from St. Augustine, FL to Wilmington, NC
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2013, 05:05:03 pm »
There was a post written about this about a year ago, mentioning using US 17 northward from Florida. Here's the link:
Carla Majernik
Routes and Mapping Program Director

Adventure Cycling Association
Inspiring people of all ages to travel by bicycle.
800/755-2453, 406/721-1776 x218, 406/721-8754 fax

Follow Routes & Mapping on Twitter: @acaroutes

Offline roadrunner

Re: Atlantic Coast question from St. Augustine, FL to Wilmington, NC
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2013, 12:54:38 am »
I did a tour last month from Charleston, SC, to Norfolk, VA.  The intent was to stay a near the coast as possible.  Generally, US-17 is not very bike friendly, usually no shoulder.  There was quite a bit of traffic in April; I imagine as the summer tourist season approaches, the traffic would be much heavie.  A tourer we talked to said US-17 between Savannah and Charleston was terrible for riding -- lots of traffic and no shoulder.

Unfortunately, because of many rivers and inlets along the coast, we didn't have many options to US-17 until it went inland at Jacksonville, NC, and we stayed along the coast to get to the Outer Banks.

There are some stretches to avoid US-17 for a while -- Myrtle Beach & North Myrtle Beach, SC; NC-211 and US-421 south of Wilmington, NC; and NC-210 and NC-172 south of Jacksonville, NC.

If you aren't tied to the Adventure Cycleing route, the NC's Outer Banks make for great riding. 

Offline litespeed

Re: Atlantic Coast question from St. Augustine, FL to Wilmington, NC
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2013, 01:25:49 pm »
I have done St. Augustine Beach northward up the coast more times than I can count. Here is my route as far as Wilmington NC: Ride A1A north to and through Jacksonville Beach. Then go on to the Mayport Naval Station and take the ferry across the river.  Continue to Buccaneer Trail and take it till it ends at Amelia Parkway. Go left and go on to A1A right by the bridge. Go west to US17and head north. This is a good, albeit not very scenic, bicycling road.  You can skirt around Savannah by taking Dean Forest Road, SR307, to Port Wentworth and go over the old bridge. From Hardeeville SC continue on US17 and the old highway alongside the interstate until it ends. Then go over I-95 and up through Yemassee (KOA) and Hendersonville to Walterboro. From Walterboro go out 17 a few miles to Sidney's Rd. and go up it to 61. Ride 61 into Charleston then left on 17 and over the bridges. Immediately after the Arthur Ravenal Bridge turn right on 703 to Rifle Range Road and take it through Mt. Pleasant.

This all sounds a bit roundabout but the stretches of 17 and 17A south of Charleston and Summerville and 17 through Mt. Pleasant are truly bad stretches of road - high speed narrow two lane, totally shoulderless and heavily trafficked.

After Mt. Pleasant get back on 17 and follow it to North Carolina. You can avoid the worst of Wilmington by taking 211 to delightful Southport and taking the ferry. Then go up through the beaches to Oleander Drive and skirting around Wilmington to the east. Of course, if Wilmington is your destination you can plan your approach according to exactly where you want to go.

Offline cycling girl

Re: Atlantic Coast question from St. Augustine, FL to Wilmington, NC
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2013, 04:02:19 pm »
We're actually riding that part of the Atlantic Coast route map 6 right now. We stayed at Callahan last night (bad idea). If you can, push on to Boulogne/Folkstone because there are clean motels with pools there. Our "Non-smoking" room at the Royal Inn, Callahan, reeked of tobacco and there were gross and suspicious stains on the quilt that needed washing...

Right now, we are at Knox Hotel which we would enthusiastically recommend to fellow cyclists on this route. Blanche is wonderful and it is worth the slightly longer cycle to be here.

We debated about simply going up the US17. Locals told us to take the US17 because they said there wasn't much traffic on it and it was shorter. But we didn't. We took the Adventure Cycling route, even though slightly longer, because we have always been glad we did in the past and this is no exception. The route is peaceful, shady and we've had a beautiful day cycling. If you have the time, stick to the map.

Offline litespeed

Re: Atlantic Coast question from St. Augustine, FL to Wilmington, NC
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2013, 11:17:14 pm »
Apparently the US17 "Blue Bridge" over the St. Mary's River (FL-GA line) is down for lengthy repairs. Poo. This will somewhat interfere with my impending ride up to Savannah. I usually get there in the late afternoon so I suspect that I could sneak/clamber my way through but it would be a gamble. 

I will probably take 108 west to Hillard and Folkston. Then I'll stay there the night, not having enough daylight to get to the KOA at Kingsland. Then 252 back to 17 at White Oak the next day and on north. This will add 20-30 miles to my trip.

A bike shop in St. Mary's (Camden Bicycle Center 912 576-9696) is offering free shuttles up I95 around this obstacle. I might give them a call before I leave.