City Escape: Columbia, South Carolina

Text: James T. Parks • Photography: James T. Parks

Not far west of Columbia, SC, riders encounter the outdoor recreational offerings and scenic vistas of Lake Murray. Venturing deeper into the state’s hilly Upcountry, bucolic backroads lead to historic sites recounting the state’s pivotal role in winning the American Revolutionary War. Riders also will see the plantation lifestyle, which characterized the South’s antebellum era before the Civil War.

Length

Approximately 182 miles

Meet-up Spot

Starbucks, 7467 Woodrow St, Irmo, SC

Lunch Stop

Jitter’s Café offers southern hospitality and tasty sandwich selections at prices that won’t break the bank, 106 Musgrove St, Clinton, SC, (864) 833-2198.

Scenery (3 out of 5)

Woodlands, rural farmland, and orchards are draped over a rolling landscape.

Traffic (3 out of 5)

Closer to Columbia and near Lake Murray, traffic can be heavier during summer months, especially on weekends.

Difficulty (1 out of 5)

Relatively flat terrain with some sweeping curves; not difficult.

Road Conditions (3 out of 5)

Roads are mostly in very good condition.

Points of Interest

  1. Saluda Dam and Lake Murray: Ten miles west of Columbia, 1.5-mile-long Saluda Dam impounds the waters of its namesake river, creating the Lake Murray reservoir. Recreational activities abound on the 50,000-acre lake. Route 6, along the dam’s crest, provides riders with expansive vistas. www.lakemurray-sc.com/drehershoalsdam.html
  2. Ninety Six National Historic Site: South Carolina’s Upcountry was the scene of numerous battles during the American Revolutionary War. This 1,022-acre National Historic Site commemorates the village and the siege that occurred here between May 22 and June 18, 1781. www.nps.gov/nisi/index.htm
  3. Musgrove Mill State Historic Site: The Battle of Musgrove Mill occurred here on August 19, 1780. Patriot militia leader Col. Issac Shelby successfully engaged a larger Loyalist force with the South Carolina Colony’s famed Overmountain Men. The visitor center provides interpretive exhibits. www.southcarolinaparks.com/musgrovemill/introduction.aspx
  4. Rose Hill Plantation State Park: With a restored mansion, period furnishings, and lush gardens, this state historic site transports visitors back to the antebellum period. The plantation was the home of the state’s secessionist governor, William Gist, who also was the grandson of a Revolutionary War Loyalist. southcarolinaparks.com/rosehill/default.aspx