A summer beach vacation doesn’t have to be all about sand and water when cycling options are nearby! A family reunion brought us to South Carolina and between beaching, boating, touring, eating and drinking we found time for some pedaling.
It’s no secret that Hilton Head Island is covered with bike baths and that once you settle in you might not need to touch the car keys till you leave. Bike to the beach, bike on the beach, bike past golf courses, historic ruins, and stables, and bike to restaurants. HH was thoughtfully designed years ago and only gets better with time.
Hollywood (The Big Chill, Forrest Gump, GI Jane, The Great Santini, and more) came knocking on this little town’s front door for a reason – it’s picture perfect! You could spend the whole day riding around town finding movie locations but we had another plan in mind… The Spanish Moss Trail is part of a nationwide network of trails created from former railroad lines and connecting corridors. The historic Magnolia Line Railroad, established in 1870, ceased operations in 2003 setting the stage for Beaufort County to develop the corridor into a recreational trail. The Spanish Moss Trail is currently 10 miles long but there are future plans to extend the trail to 14 miles running from the Town of Port Royal, past the Marine Corps Air Station, and all the way to McLeod Farms. The 12-ft wide, flat, paved surface makes it easy to ride as an out and back.
We rented cruiser bikes from Lowcountry Bicycles (the website automatically redirects to a Facebook page but don’t be deterred, for info call (843) 524-9585). John set us up with twin cruisers, gave us a trail map, and sent us on our way. You can ride right from the shop on Ladys Island, across the bridge on the Sea Island Parkway, and then left on Bay Street through Beaufort’s beautiful downtown. (This entire area is a maze of rivers, islands, and bridges; you’ll jump from one to other without even knowing it.) Bay Street takes you past the marina; along a breath taking crescent of water views, ages old oak trees, stately plantation style mansions, and charming southern neighborhoods; and dead ends at the Spanish Moss Trail.
We picked up the SMT central trailhead at The Depot Road and rode from one end to the other passing through lowcountry marshland, coastal areas, and swamp boardwalk while riding under a canopy of trees dripping with Spanish moss. Much of this trail is treelined and shaded but it was still mid-summer in The South and it was hot! 95 degrees and 95% humidity made it feel like riding in a sauna; the key was to keep moving because once you stopped it was sweltering. We brought water and filled our bottles twice at The Depot’s water fountain. Surprisingly, the trail goes right through the old depot building! The 20 mile round trip took us about 2 1/2 hours. This trail is flat and friendly and any or all sections would be good for riders of any level looking to see more of the Carolina coastal area.