Along US-601

Although the northern section begins to reveal the Blue Ridge Mountains, US-601 isn't the most breathtaking route in the system. It runs 315 miles from just south of Furman, South Carolina to Mt Airy, North Carolina. The lack of excitement is balanced by the fact that US-601 offers a great 'back-roads' route through the Carolinas that is relatively quick and without much to worry about in regards to traffic or large cities, IF you know the secrets to getting around two or three of the larger towns!  

 

 

 


 
Dist:
& Est Time:
178 Miles
3.3 Hours
State Map
& Segments:
Link to South Carolina DOT
South Carolina DOT Map
Major Crossroads
US-1 US-1146 US-1162 US-78 US-178 US-278 US-301 US-321 US-378 US-521
 

Tarboro, SC to Pageland, SC

The route seems to start in the middle of nowhere, very near the South Carolina border with Georgia and from the first mile you rightly get the impression this is a RURAL route. It wanders by farmlands and over small creeks and rivers as a two lane road until reaching Bamburg, where it turns to four lane until just north of Orangeburg. Riders will be able to travel at posted speeds of 55 MPH without worry, and maybe a bit over if you want to take a chance that the route is lightly patrolled.

Orangeburg, one of only three large towns along the entire route, offers a good variety of franchise and independent motels and restaurants. Tourism attractions are not plentiful, but if you are into oohing and ahhhing over antebellum homes, Orangeburg can give you a tonal workout. If you are coming out of northeast Georgia this might offer a good midday rest before pressing into the mountains of North Caolina.

If you have time, plan to spend at least an hour or so in the areas around Camden, SC. This town is very rich in American history, from the Revolution through the Civil War. It was the Battle of Camden in 1780 that nearly ended the revolt. The battlefield, just north of town, is slated to be a National Park in the next few years. It's where Baron DeKalb was struck down by 'Bloody Tarleton' and the spot at which General Horatio Gates lost his reputation as he fled north from the battle in full panic.

Just north of Camden is the little town of Kershaw and just a bit north of that is Carolina Motorsports Park, a fun place to stop on special summer weekends if you are into sports car and motorcycle racing.

40 Acre Rock - Off US-601
Set your GPS for Latitude 34.6749 Longitude -80.52373 to reach a truly unique roadside attraction that few even know about, much less visit - 40 Acre Rock. This geological oddity is a fine place for a 40 minute break if you are in need of a rest and stretch.

In the Pageland area the route changes to four lane and riders should be cautioned there is a reason for it. For many, many, years this stretch of road leading across the NC state line to Monroe has been a notorious killer. It wasn't unusual for high speed accidents here to claim multiple lives. The change to four lane has lessened that a bit, but there are still more fatal accidents here due to speed than necessary. Be Aware, Be Careful!


 
Dist:
& Est Time:
136 Miles
3.2 Hours
State Map
& Segments:
Link to  North Carolina DOT
North Carolina DOT Map
Major Crossroads
US-29 US-52 US-64 US-70 US-74 US-158 US-421
 

Pageland, SC to Concord, NC

At the intersection of US-74, on the eastern edge of Monroe, US-601 co-locates for about one and a half miles. The route is four and five lanes wide, and very congested. Use caution during the morning and evening rush hours, motorcycle riders seem to be involved in many accidents in this area.

The route returns to two lane immediately after turning northbound from US-74. The posted speed is 55 MPH and can usually be maintained, but particular care should be used when approaching the two or three intersections with stop lights. Each has a short cycle yellow and the cross traffic is usually happy to sprint away on their green and collide with those that don't know about the short cycle yellow. (This is one of those tips that save you from a very bad day.}

Those out just wandering the country should consider a two hour visit to Reed Gold Mine. It was the site of the first gold rush in America.

Concord to Salisbury

Route 601 turns into a series of congested surface streets as it passes over NC-49. NC-3 begins at this spot and is a commemoration of the late Dale Earnhardt. For those that have lots of time, or the urge to wander a bit, a run down the length of NC-3 could be a treat. It goes all the way to Mooresville, past the Mike Curb Motorsports Museum, the Dale Earnhardt Memorial, and the old Earnhardt shops and museum. The gravesite of Dale Earnhardt is a well kept local secret, but it's possible to visit the grave of his father, Ralph Earnhardt, at a small cemetery on NC-3 just north of the Cabarrus Convention and Visitors Bureau.

On the west side of Concord US-601 begins a co-location with US-29 as it runs to Salisbury. It's four lane divided much of the way, and just busy, busy, busy in the other parts. The flavor of both routes is diluted by the local traffic, there just isn't any way to describe this as anything but congested and difficult. Consider taking I-85 to Salisbury if you are in a hurry.

You can avoid nearly all of the urban sprawl traffic by using an alternative route up to Salisbury by turning north on NC-200 way back at Monroe and running about 25 miles to Mt Pleasant Road, which goes through the towns of Mt Pleasant and Faith into Salisbury. This will drop you onto East Innes Street. Go westbound on Innes all the way through town and resume travel on US-601 at the north side of town. The traffic encountered in Salisbury is just a fraction of what can be encountered while traveling through Concord, plus it saves a few miles!

Salisbury to Mocksville

Recently repaved 2011 and in very good shape, it's very easy to run 10 MPH over the posted limits, which for much of this section is just 45 MPH. Gentle curves and increasingly high hills and drops give a hint of the Blue Ridge foothills, and the real mountains which are not very far ahead.

Got some extra time to wander? Take a right turn at NC-801 and follow it till it wanders back to US-601 about halfway between Mocksville and Yadkinville. Nothing special along the way, but it isn't at all congested and is a pleasant alternative, especially if you want to pop into Winston-Salem for a quick lunch or some sightseeing.

Mocksville to Yadkinville

The pavement is still in great condition and the hills are really beginning to give you some scenic vistas.

US-601 takes a modern day jog around the reminisce 'downtown' area of Mocksville. When the jog begins with a left turn, continue straight ahead to see what the old route was like. On the other side of 'downtown', take a few minutes to find Joppa Cemetery, located on the northern edge of the Mocksville Business District. It has an historical marker at the front of the property. Be careful when you slow down to turn in...the locals don't seem to understand we tourists are not paying close attention - I've nearly been hit twice here. Maybe it's not me paying attention?

Boone Memorial Joppa Cemetery is the final resting place for the parents of Daniel Boone. They were interred here in the late 1700's. There are dozens of significant graves here, and researching the names will take you on an exciting trip through the early history of North Carolina.

Most of the opportunities for restaurants are on the north side of Mocksville as US-601 leads up to the intersection of I-40. Beyond that this really isn't much of until Yadkinville and the next major intersection, US-421.

Yadkinville to Mt Airy

This continues to be Daniel Boone country, the rural atmosphere prevails. Many of the side roads don't lead anywhere special, but can be interesting diversions if you are looking for a twisty... but the best twisty is only 35 minutes ahead, so why waste time?

There are several restaurants in Yadkinville, all concentrated about the US-421 intersection. And you'll find some fast food options in Dobson if you take Business Route US-601. At Dobson the road widens to four lane and begins to gain more traffic nearing Mt Airy.

If you are on a long tour, plan two days for this trip. If you are just making miles, it can be done in seven hours or less, even with decent rest breaks. In either case, the best part of the route lies just beyond the northern terminus - the Blue Ridge Parkway!