Sarasota, FL to Ocala, FL
Knowing just how overpopulated this area is, most riders would expect every major road to be hectic and dangerous. US-301 is somewhat of an exception. It's four and sometimes six lanes divided, and handles heavy traffic fairly well. Only during the peaks of morning and afternoon rush hours does it seem crowded.
Ocala, FL to Folkston, GA
This segment of the route is most famous for speed traps, not tourist traps! Be very careful and aware of your speed in Waldo, Starke, and Lawtey. Starke is where the Florida State Prison System keeps its death row, so maybe there is a good reason for the local police to want to stop transiting vehicles, but Waldo and Lawtey keep their little towns alive with revenue from speeding tickets and other offenses revealed once you are pulled over.
Except for the 20 miles from Baldwin to Callahan, the roadway is four lane divided and is kept in good condition. There are always lots of semi-trailers being tugged along here, and it isn't unusual to see an accident or two involving the big rigs.
Once beyond Baldwin the pace transitions from the frantic atmosphere of Florida to the rural environment of southern and central Georgia.
The route briefly returns to four lane divided from Callahan to the state line and into Folkston. It also is known for frequent serious accidents. There is a weight station and agricultural inspection station at Hilliard. Located in the median area, it can be tricky when passing by, large trucks and locals in their small pickup trucks seem to race away from the last booth and come blasting back to the road without looking carefully.
Folkston is an interesting stopover. Overnight accommodations are limited and the motels of dubious quality - ask to look at your room before checking in.
Those that like wildlife adventures are encouraged to visit the Okefenokee Swamp. It can be a fun 90 minute stop to walk on a boardwalk into the edge of the swamp, or you can rent a boat and spend a full day wandering into the cypress forest that is full of alligators, lots of very large snakes, bears, and exotic critters of all kinds. I lived here for several years and the locals expect me to call them exotic, but a stranger might get an unexpected response - so be careful!
Train buffs that come to Folkston are probably aware of the Folkston Funnel. It's a second of two tracks over which about 50 trains pass each day. Train watching is a major tourism draw, and if you are really a fan of trains then look into an overnight stay at Trainmaster's Lodge, which is really a small collection of vintage RR buildings and rolling stock used as guest houses.
Folkston, GA to Jesup, GA
Just outside of Folkston US-301 breaks away from US-1 and US-23 and becomes a lonely two lane road making a beeline for Jesup. It's about 55 miles of lowland scenery broken only by a couple of small towns, the largest of which is Nahunta, which without the intersection with US-82 would be just another wide spot in the road.
About the only thing of interest to a touring rider along this stretch is the Little Satilla Wildlife Management Area. It's a federal reserve of nearly 20,000 acres and the main feature is the dark water rivers and creeks. It's used mostly by hunters and hiking is allowed by permit. The best way to see and enjoy the area is by canoe and there are a few rental liveries in the area.
Jesup, GA to Allendale, SC
At Jesup US-301 co-locates with US-25 and US-84 to Ludowici where 25 and 301 break away to the north, wandering through more lowland areas as a two lane road until just south of Glenville. Beyond that it's again a four lane divided road running through the little town of Claxton and over I-16 before reaching Statesboro.
The first inclination is to take the US-301 Bypass around Statesboro, and it is a very quick ride, but Statesboro is a college town with a bit of history and for those riders that are truly just wandering, the opportunity to slow down and enjoy an old southern town is a good excuse to stop and rest for an hour or two. Riders taking the bypass should usually get around the town in 15 minutes. This is a college that during the football season can be difficult to get through by any means on game day.
If you pass over this section during the weekdays, consider the Georgia Welcome Station Station as a good place to stop for a brief rest if needed. It closes at 5:30 PM, but you can still use the picnic area till dark without anybody bothering you. The staff of the Welcom Station are very friendly and will help you find some good diversions in Georgia.
Allendale, SC to Orangeburg, SC
The first town of any size encountered in South Carolina is Allendale. If you need fuel the choices are limited if you stay right on US-301. I know of just two stations, one of which isn't well kept. The preferable stop is the station at the north edge of town.
The route continues as a four lane road and heavy traffic is never an issue. The SC Highway Patrol does seem to be on this stretch all of the time, so try to keep your speed to five over if you don't want that "Performance Award" that they so love to give. Posted speeds along this section is 60 MPH.
At Ulmer the intersection with US-321 can be tricky, as it is really set up as a wye and US-301 traffic sort of rolls through without a stop. There is a railroad crossing here too, and it's easy to become fixated on watching for traffic and not notice the tracks - in wet weather that can be a painful mistake. Be aware.
Bamburg is another small county seat that you can usually sail through without delay.A little hint to help your budget - fuel prices in the southern part of South Carolina run 10 to 15 cents higher than in the northern part of the state.
Orangeburg, SC to Florence, SC
Florence, SC to North Carolina Border
South Carolina Border to Smithfield, NC
Smithfield, NC to Pleasant Hill, SC
Pleasant Hill, NC to Caroline County, VA
Caroline County, VA to Newburg, MD
Newburg, MD to Skidmore, MD
Skidmore, MD to Delaware Border
Maryland Border to Route End at US-40
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