The Low Country

Bikers on the Beach at Hunting Island Photo by Claire Pamplin
Bikers on the Beach at Hunting Island

Almost all the cities and towns along the coast provide good biking opportunities. However, with so many old houses, churches, cemeteries and museums, you could be in serious danger of history overload. Sometimes it's more fun just to cruise past the sites on your two-wheeler than to go inside. Take Savannah, for example. You can tour dozens of 19th century homes and look at more mahogany, crystal, silver and fine upholstery than you can shake a stick at. Or you can take in the beauty of the city via a 10-mile Savannah Residential bike tour. Another Savannah-area ride is at Skidaway Island State Park. It offers easy to moderately challenging biking.

McQueens Island Historic Trail, about half-way between Savannah and Tybee Island,off U.S. Highway 80, is easy pedaling on an old railroad bed. From Savannah, drive 9 miles onHighway 80. Cross the Bull River, go about one-third of a mile, and look for the McQueens Island parking area on the left. Also on this route is Ft. Pulaski National Monument.

The Low Country landscape is as flat as an ironing board and laced with smooth ribbons of paved road, hard-packed dirt lanes and sandy, shelly tracks. The Low Country challenges cyclists not with hills, but with long distances and irresistibly distracting beauty. The challenge of the region's off-road biking is in negotiating grassy tracks or deep, loose sand. It isn't mountain biking.

North of Savannah, in South Carolina, Edisto Island offers easy pedaling near one of the state's prettiest beaches. South of Edisto, Beaufort County's miles of secondary roads are blessedly light in automotive traffic and offer a look at real Low Country plantations, still privately owned. To see them, pedal from Dale, South Carolina, eight miles north of Beaufort, toward Yemassee. You can get a glimpse of Twickenham and Auld Brass Plantations from the road before heading back to Dale via Route 21. Make a stop at the ruins of Sheldon Church. South of Beaufort, Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge allows you to combine good cycling with excellent birding.

South of Savannah, a cycling treat is the ride through McIntosh County's Darien, Georgia, a tiny coastal town settled in the 1700s and populated by descendants of the original Scottish colonists. Take Georgia Route 99 north out of Darien past Victorian homes, the ruins of slave owners' houses and the Sapelo Island docks at Meridian, Georgia.

More great riding with one history lesson after the other is on St. Simons Island. Pedal to 18th-century churches, 19th-century plantations and an early 20th-century luxury resort. Cycling is a good way to take in the "cottages" of Jekyll Island, once owned by the Goulds, the Rockefellers, Morgans and others of their status. A side trip inland about 40 miles from Brunswick will take you to the Okefenokee Swamp where you'll findinteresting cycling through and near "the land of the trembling earth."

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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