until the total solar eclipse.

Walking Wonders Way on the Ravenel Bridge | Charleston’s Highest Scenic Overlook

Learn about the history and how to walk the 2.5-mile Wonders Way across the Ravenel Bridge in Charleston.

By Jason Barnette | Travel writer and photographer with 15+ years of road tripping experience

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Explore Charleston, SC Series

This article is part of the Charleston, South Carolina series. Click the button to read more articles, itineraries, and travel guides in the series.

I was a little out of breath and felt like I had just summitted a mountain peak. Okay, so the hike wasn’t really that strenuous. But it had taken me forty-five minutes to reach the viewing area along Wonders Way on the Ravenel Bridge. I rested my elbows on the fence, let out a deep breath, and laughed at the ridiculousness of the gorgeous view.

Wonders Way is a 12′ wide multi-use pedestrian path on the south side of the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge. The cable stayed suspension bridge between Charleston and Mount Pleasant is just called the Ravenel Bridge or, more frequently, the Big White Bridge. Since its completion in 2006, the Ravenel Bridge has become an icon of the Lowcountry.

I walked Wonders Way from the Mount Pleasant end for the first time in 2013. I started about an hour before sunset, arriving at the scenic overlook at the support pier just as the sun touched the horizon.

It was a spectacular day. I watched a giant cargo ship pass beneath the bridge. A warm orange hue splashed across the sky from the sunset. And despite the roar of traffic, it was utterly peaceful.

That was my favorite day on Wonders Way but not the most memorable.

Three years later, I returned to the Ravenel Bridge with Amanda, someone I’d met at Notso Hostel the day before. Despite dark clouds looming on the horizon, we began climbing the pedestrian trail to the support pier. Alarm bells rang in my head, but I was determined to show Amanda one of my favorite overlooks in Charleston.

We barely had a minute to enjoy the view before the first crack of thunder ripped open the sky. It would have taken five minutes to run off the bridge in peak physical condition. But I was not in peak physical condition.

It took twenty minutes. By the time we exited the bridge at my car, we were drenched to the bone. Lightning flashed all around us, accompanied by ear-shattering thunder. It was simultaneously the dumbest and most exhilarating thing I did all year.

I recommend everyone hike Wonders Way for the spectacular views. But I don’t recommend anyone attempt it with dark clouds in sight.

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Map of Wonders Way

How to use this map | Click the icon in the top-left corner to open the Map Legend, then click on any of the legend items to display more information. If you have a Google account, click the (very faint) star at the end of the map’s name to save this map to your account, then access the map from your smartphone during your trip.

The Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge in Mt. Pleasant, SC on Thursday, November 28, 2013. Copyright 2013 Jason Barnette
The Ravenel Bridge is a beacon in the night along the Cooper River.

Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge

I only have one not-so-clear memory of the Cooper River Bridge and Grace Bridge that used to span the river between Charleston and Mount Pleasant. One year, during family vacation in Myrtle Beach we took a day trip down to Charleston to visit Patriots Point. The only thing I can remember about the former bridges is that they were scary.

In 1979, the bridges were certified functionally obsolete. Then, in 1995 the Grace Bridge scored a frightening 4 out of 100 during a Department of Transportation safety test. Despite this revelation, it would take more than a decade to finish a replacement.

Construction began on the Ravenel Bridge in 2001. The 2.5-mile cable stayed bridge, the longest in the state, was built around the existing bridges. It was completed in 2006, and the locals partied like it was 1999.

The USS Yorktown at Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum in Mt. Pleasant, SC on Sunday, September 8, 2013. Copyright 2013 Jason Barnette
At 186′ above the Cooper River, Wonders Way offers some pretty amazing views.

Garrett Wonders

Garrett Wonders was a sophomore at Ohio State University when he became interested in cycling. By the time he finished his master’s degree, he had started competing nationally with the university’s cycling team.

That passion continued when he moved to Charleston to work at the Nuclear Power Training Command as an ensign in the United States Navy. Still eager to compete, in 2004 he was assigned as one of two military personnel to compete at the Olympic Trails in California.

Wonders began training by cycling across the Cooper River Bridge. But the narrow bridge was not suite for bicyclists. One day while cycling across the bridge, he was struck by a car and killed on site.

A couple watches a warm sunset from Wonders' Way on the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge in Charleston, SC on Sunday, September 8, 2013. Copyright 2013 Jason Barnette

Walking Wonders Way

A grassroots movement by local supporters immediately sought to make an addition to the Ravenel Bridge: a dedicated pedestrian path. The effort was a success, and when the Ravenel Bridge opened to traffic in 2006 it included Wonders Way, a safe path for hikers, joggers, and bicyclists.

Wonders Way is separated from the buzzing traffic by a solid concrete barrier. A metal fence along the outside prevents anyone from accidentally or purposefully falling off the bridge. It is certainly safer than the conditions Wonders faced while cycling across the Cooper River Bridge.

The path is wide enough for pedestrians and bicyclists to easily co-habitat without crashing into each other.

At each of the support piers, Wonders Way extends outward, wrapping around the concrete support. This creates a spectacular scenic overlook. At 186 feet above the Cooper River, it’s the highest scenic overlook in Charleston.

And one of my favorites. Summer sunsets are spectacular from the support pier closest to Mount Pleasant.

One of my favorite times to hike Wonders Way is for sunset. Just remember to give yourself about an hour before sunset to start the hike from Mount Pleasant.

Getting to Wonders Way + Parking

Wonders Way stretches the entire 2.5-mile bridge between Charleston and Mount Pleasant. Pedestrians can access either end, however the Charleston end is more difficult.

In Charleston, Wonders Way connects to a city sidewalk along East Bay Street. There is no public parking nearby.

In Mount Pleasant, there is ample parking near the end of Wonders Way. The best place to park is the Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park beside the bridge. Public parking is plentiful beneath the bridge and in an overflow lot across the road.

You won’t see any cruise ships pass beneath the bridge, but stay long enough and you’ll see a container ship pass both ways.

Tips for Visiting Wonders Way

Wonders Way is not exclusively reserved for jogging or bicycling. I have hiked to the first bridge support from Mount Pleasant many times, and I’ve never been the only slow trudging pedestrian. But there are a few tips I can give you to make the most of your visit.

  • Always stay on the right. Bicyclists move fast, especially downhill, and you don’t want them to have to swerve around you.
  • Always give way to the faster traffic. If you’re walking, you give way to everyone. If jogging, give way to bicyclists.
  • Allow 30-40 minutes from Mount Pleasant to reach the first bridge support, and 40-60 minutes from Charleston.
  • At each of the two bridge supports, the pedestrian paths hangs out from the side of the bridge, offering stunning views in both directions.


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