Best Running Adventures | Charleston
Ready to hit the trails and roads of Charleston, SC and go for a run? Our guide to the best places to go running in Charleston features information on the the best runs in the Charleston area including the Ravenel Bridge, Isle of Palms, James Island Park and Francis Marion Forest. Enjoy!!
Climb the Ravenel Bridge and Boat Back (Downtown Charleston): With its 575 feet of elevation gain, the Ravenel Bridge is the closest thing to running up a mountain in the Lowcountry. The annual Cooper River Bridge Run is among the nation’s premiere races, but runners can enjoy the wide pedestrian lane all year long. Extend your run by hanging a right at the base of the Mt. Pleasant side and continuing to Patriots Point, where a water taxi will take you back downtown on the hour. From the parking below, it is a little more than 5 miles one-way to Patriots Point.
Directions from Charleston: If you plan on taking the water taxi back then park at the Charleston Maritime Center off Calhoun St. at 10 Wharfside St. Park on the street or the parking garage on Calhoun St. between Washington and Concord St.
Conquer the Isle of Palms Connector (Mt. Pleasant): At close to 2.25 miles long, the IOP Connector Bridge crosses the Intercoastal Waterway and connects the Isle of Palms with Mt. Pleasant. The deceptive climb up to the crest of the bridge rewards you with outstanding views of the Waterway and Isle of Palms. We suggest starting this run at TrySports for a nice 6 mile out and back run.
Directions from Charleston: Take Hwy 17 N to Mt. Pleasant. for 8 miles. Turn right in to the Towne Center. TrySports is near the Federal Bank and Alltel.
Run the West Ashley Greenway (West Ashley): Paralleling Highway 17 but far enough away to escape the noise, this 10.5 mile hard-packed dirt path begins at the Ashley River and continues to the Stono River. You’ll pass through neighborhoods and parks as the route grows increasingly rural before opening up onto the marsh and the Stono.
Directions from Charleston: Take Hwy 17 S to left on Folly Rd. and park behind EarthFare grocery store on your right. The trail passes behind the shopping center. For closer access to the marsh, keep in mind the trail is usually only a few blocks off Hwy 17 so consider parking on Farmfield Ave. or McLeod Rd.
Navigate the Trails at James Island County Park (James Island): This 640 acre public gem is five minutes from downtown and includes 5 miles of paved trails for running and biking. They wind around a lake, through woodlands, and along the banks of the Stono River and salt marsh. There’s also an outdoor climbing wall and water park.
Directions from Charleston: Take Hwy 17 S and bear left toward Folly Beach. Pass EarthFare on your right, cross another bridge, and take a right onto Maybank Highway/SC 700. When you see the golf course on either side, take a left on Riverland Dr. at the stop light. The park is about 2 miles ahead on your right.
Escape into the Woods (Francis Marion National Forest): Drive twenty minutes north of Charleston and there’s a seemingly endless selection of sandy logging roads to explore through the pine forests of the Francis Marion. To really get out there, head up into the Hellhole Bay Wilderness, where you’re likely to share the road with a few deer and wild hogs.
Directions from Charleston: Take Hwy 17 N to Hwy 41. Five miles after the town of Huger, take a right on Yellowjacket Rd. This takes you to the Hellhole Bay area, and any sandy road you pass along the way provides a distant escape to run through the woods.
Run Into the Sunset (Folly Beach): There’s hardly a better spot near Charleston to watch the day end then from the county park at the southernmost end of Folly Beach. The final mile of sand on the island is undeveloped, and rounds off into a spit that overlooks the Stono River, Kiawah Island, Bird Key, and the Atlantic Ocean. Run at low tide for plenty of hard-packed sand.
Directions from Charleston: Take the James Island Expressway until it dead ends into Folly Rd. Take a right and continue to Folly Beach. Take a right on Ashley Ave. and continue until the road dead ends into the park.