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Driving South

Recently we were asked for the best route - especially to avoid the mountains - to drive to Georgia or Florida. Here is what our intrepid traveler Tom Mugridge responded.

I have driven through West Virginia, including in the exact area you mention, and whoever told you that you can't get to Augusta from here without going through the Allegheny Mountains is absolutely right.

The hills in West Virginia are spectacularly beautiful, but there are some really really steep grades.

Based on the information I have found so far, I think your best path would still be to go to Augusta from Cleveland and not Pittsburgh. If you're starting in Pittsburgh, I think I would head over to Route 77 because from Pittsburgh south to where you could pick up Route 77 in West Virginia has many steep grades, more so than on Route 77 south through Ohio.

But if you're leaving from Cleveland, I would just take Route 77 South. The fewest steep grades seem to be along the Route 77 corridor, even through the mountains of West Virginia.

To my recollection, the steepest of the West Virginia grades are in the central part of the state, particularly the Charleston area.

There's one part I remember right in Charleston where you're driving straight toward a mammoth mountain wall, then the road suddenly veers 90 degrees. But once you've made your way through Charleston, I think the going gets easier.

There doesn't seem to be any better path to Augusta from Cleveland, even if you tried to go around the mountains by heading to the East Coast,

If you were on the East Coast you could get to Augusta with only a couple of steep grades, but there are plenty of steep grades between Cleveland and the East Coast, so you wouldn't be gaining anything, plus you'd be adding a ton of mileage to your trip, which probably defeats the whole purpose.

Going west and then south doesn't seem to help either because the mountains extend all the way to north of Atlanta. So, you can't really get past them very easily that way, either.

I would stick with the Route 77 south route, and take it easy on the steep grades. As long as you maintain the posted minimum speed (probably something like 40 mph) on the interstate you should be OK.

If you drop below the posted minimum speed, be sure your 4-way flashers are working and put them on, to warn other drivers that you're not moving as fast as they.

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