The Hellhole Gravel Grind features a weekend of gravel and offers multiple events geared toward riders of all abilities held entirely within the confines of the Francis Marion National Forest near Charleston, SC.
The pinnacle event, a three-day stage, is the first and longest running gravel stage race in the United States. Featuring nearly 150 miles of gravel, the race begins with a one-of-a-kind night-time prologue showcasing competitors under the twilight of the forest canopy. The weekend also features 45 and 75-mile gravel fondo options for those inclined.
Despite being pancake flat, this unique event will test riders' physical and mental toughness. The hundreds of miles roads of the Francis Marion are mostly hard-packed gravel, with some grassy doubletrack, Roubaix-rated trail sections along the Palmetto Trail and megafauna such as bear, snakes, boar (and chupacabra…).
The event is promoted by Mt. Pleasant Velo and has been featured in the Gravel Ride Podcast, Cyclocross Magazine, Bicycling Magazine, Men's Journal, and Gravel Cyclist. The event is quickly becoming a marquee gravel event and should be on any gravel enthusiast's bucket list!
Race Notes and Information
The Hellhole Gravel Grind Prologue, 2-Day Stage Race and 1-Day Gravel Fondos take place on the gravel roads in and around Hellhole Swamp in the Francis Marion National Forest just outside of Charleston, South Carolina. The forest is named for the revolutionary war hero Francis Marion, who was known to the British as the Swamp Fox. He used these swamps, creeks and forest areas to ambush and hide from the British and was depicted in the movie “The Patriot”.
Event Schedule: (all stages begin at Witherbee Ranger Station)
Friday (October 6, 2023)
The Friday evening Prologue will be an optional, time bonus event on an all gravel 6 mile loop around the Witherbee Ranger Station. The time trial style event will begin just before sunset (6:30 PM) so headlights and tail lights will be required. Riders will go off at 20 second intervals. YOU MUST ARRIVE TO PICK-UP YOUR NUMBER BETWEEN 4:30-6:15 PM. Number pickup at these times are for prologue competitors only.
Saturday (October 7, 2023)
Stage Race and Gravel Fondo (all distances)
Number pickup begins at 7:00 AM
MANDATORY all-rider meeting at 8:45 AM
Start Time 9:00 AM (all distances, groups will be staggered by two minutes)
Stage Racers 9:00 AM
One Day, 75-Miles Riders 9:02 AM
One Day, 45-Miles Riders 9:04 AM
Podiums will be presented approximately 20 minutes after each race. There is no podium for the 45-mile ride.
Post-race food will be available from Empanada Cuisines!
6:30 PM - Mid-race gathering at Commonhouse Aleworks
Sunday (October 8, 2023)
Stage 2 start time 9:00 AM
Post-race food will be available from Empanada Cuisines
Podiums will be presented approximately 20 minutes after the race.
2-Day Stage Race
The 2-Day Stage Race will be approximately 75 miles each day and will feature a reversed course from day one. The courses will be ~90% of unpaved roads and trails (single and double track). This is a true stage race with the lowest cumulative time over the two days determining the overall winner.
1-Day Gravel Fondos
For those less ambitious, there will be a 1-Day 75 mile, long course and 45 mile, short course ride on the first day of the Stage Race. The 75 mile course will be the same as the first stage of the stage race. The 45 mile ride will feature approximately 35 miles of the 75 mile course before splitting off and returning to the start/finish area. The 45 mile ride will be timed.
One stocked aid station will be available on each day’s course and limited support will be provided along the courses. To say this area is remote is an understatement. Bring with you what you think you may need for before, during, and after the race.
Course Files (course will be released no sooner than two weeks prior to the event. We do not provide cue sheets for the route. You may print your own cue sheet if you want one as we do not provide them - we highly recommend installing the course map on your device of choice when made available)
Results on our Webscorer Page!
Stage Race - Riders must complete each day’s stage within 7 hours.
75 Mile Fondo - Riders must complete the course within 7 hours.
45 Mile Fondo - Riders must complete the 45 miles within 5 hours.
Categories: (for all events)
Men Open Men Open 40+ Women Open Womens 40+ Mens 50+
Nature Adventures Outfitters (21 miles from start)
Camping and Communal Cabins
KOA Kampground (23 miles from start)
3157 Highway 17 North
Mount Pleasant, SC 29466
Contact the Francis Marion National Forest
Wyndham Garden Inn Mount Pleasant
1330 Stuart Engals Blvd.
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
Awards/Medals/Prizes will be given to the top 3 finishers in each category of the stage race. All participants who finish will receive a Hellhole Gravel Grind Finishers Award.
Rules and General Information:
Helmets MUST be worn and fastened at all times while on the bike.
The course and all roads are open to traffic. ALL racers MUST obey all rules of the road along the course, at intersections and road crossings. Racers should yield to all traffic and should stop at all road/rail crossings where traffic is present. There will be several highway and road crossings with heavy car and truck traffic. There may be an area of the course where the racers will share the road with car and truck traffic. Please keep to the right and ride single file except where passing. Following the rules of the road is for your own safety.
Traffic in the National Forest includes horses. Horseback riders have the right of way on trails. Please ask the rider what to do if you encounter a horse on the trail.
Though there will be an aid station and limited support on the course, racers should carry with them what they need including tools, parts and nutrition.
Cyclocross, Gravel, Mountain and Road bikes will be allowed and can be used. The best choice would be a cyclocross or gravel bike. A minimum of 28c wide tires with tread is recommended. Gravel can be very hard on tires and pot holes are numerous.
Support crews are not permitted to help racers on the course except for the aid station. No motor pacing, no pacing from a rider not in the race, no external support. Limited SAG will be available.
Please let the staff know if you leave the race. We want to ensure everyone is safe and accounted for at the end of the day.
Absolutely no littering on the course. Littering on course will result in disqualification. It is vital we leave the forest as we found it.
Mount Pleasant Velo Events, LLC Event Refund/Credit Policy:
Mount Pleasant Velo Events, LLC does not provide refunds for event entry fees or extras ordered during the registration process (ie: hats, shirts, tickets, etc.).
Event credits, valid toward other Mount Pleasant Velo events, may be issued up to two (2) weeks prior to the registered event in cases of unforeseen circumstances where event insurance is not available. In these cases, the participant must notify Mount Pleasant Velo Events, LLC.
NO refunds or credits will be issued for event registrations or other extras within two (2) weeks of the event or post event.
Hellhole Gravel Grind is a registered trademark of Mt. Pleasant Velo Events, LLC.
The Hellhole Gravel Grind held under a special use permit issued by the Francis Marion National Forest.