Updated: Dec 14, 2021
Best running routes in the Low Country cities of Savannah and Charleston
If you read my blog, you know that I take my running shoes with me wherever I travel. Not only is running low-cost and low-maintenance from an equipment perspective, it is also enormously helpful in recovering from a long day of travel – whether by plane or by car. It also serves as atonement for the overindulgence in food and drink that naturally (in my case) comes with holiday travel!
On a recent trip along the low country trail of coastal South Carolina and Georgia, I needed daily reparation for my gastronomic sins. Charleston and Savannah are notorious for having outstanding cuisine and a four to six-mile run each day was worthwhile penance in order to experience as many of the regional specialties as possible. My quest for running options rewarded me with three very interesting routes in these emblematic cities.
Running through the many city squares of historic Savannah
Savannah is all about the many different squares that make up the downtown historic district. Because they are uniformly placed in a box-like grid, it is dead easy to follow a back-and-forth route to cover each, accomplishing both an historic city tour and great exercise at the same time. Because of the way traffic is funneled around each square in a one-way fashion, you are never really competing with vehicles as you crisscross the historic downtown, except when reaching a few of the major arteries like Oglethorpe Avenue and Liberty Street. It makes for a great introduction to one of Savannah’s more delightful assets.
Running along the Battery Seawall and Waterfront Park in Charleston
The historic district of Charleston is configured much differently and the traffic a little more intense. There is also a more oppressive barrage of tourist and cruise passenger traffic as well as numerous horse carriage tours circling the more central historic attractions (although there are limits to the number of carriages that can be on the street each hour). As such, I chose routes that were either off the beaten path or during hours when traffic was light (early morning).
A terrific waterfront route encompassing The Battery seawall and Waterfront Park is best run in early morning when the only traffic you will encounter is other fellow runners (and a few dog walkers). While you do not get the same orientation to the historic district as in the Savannah route mentioned above, this route does afford outstanding waterfront views over the Ashley and Cooper rivers, as well as an introduction to the unique residential character of the City.
Running from Shem Creek Park to Pitt Street Bridge
An additional route that is a fringe running option starts on the other side of the Cooper River from downtown Charleston, near the historic neighborhood of Mount Pleasant. This route begins at Shem Creek Park, following the boardwalk over the marshes of Shem Creek and back through the marina, passing shrimp boats and fishing charters. Veering right onto Coleman Boulevard and over the bridge you enter into the Mount Pleasant neighborhood, following Church Street and the continuation that is Pitt Street, past some impressive southern homes and stately oaks dripping with Spanish moss. Continue to Pitt Street Bridge Park for excellent views back to the Ravenel bridge and Charleston’s skyline. From that point, retrace your route to Shem Creek Park for a very pleasing and picturesque five-mile run.
You can find me on Strava and Garmin Connect as Gregg Rockett.