Coastal Carolina Biking

Edisto Island Bike Path

It is difficult for me to write objectively about a place that I love so. Superlatives gush from my pen when I describe Edisto Island, for it was on this enchanting island in South Carolina that I summered each year as a young girl. And it was on this island that I returned as an adult, with children of my own, to spend countless summer days beside crashing Atlantic waves. It was on Edisto's glistening beaches that I watched as my towheaded toddler scooped up pale sand in her dimpled hands, while my infant daughter napped peacefully on a blanket in the shade. My spirit feasts on this island.

Let me offer a word of warning. Guard yourself as you cycle this beautiful island — like a charming lover, Edisto will steal your heart.

There is something decidedly seductive and alluring about the island seascape, but Edisto's charm doesn't stop there. It is an unpretentious place where folks clad in T-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops are the norm. It is a place where a big night on the town involves hitting one of the local seafood joints for some fried shrimp, hushpuppies, and a bottle of cold beer. Nightlife starts with slow walks along the beach to watch the dying orange embers of the sun slowly dissolve into the blue waters of the inlet. Then a little later, if you are really looking for excitement, you can go on a guided beach walk to try to observe loggerhead turtles that nest here. And that's about it, folks. Even if the turtles don't show up for the entertainment portion of the moonlit show, you will experience the delicious sensation of the warm Atlantic waves licking your ankles as you walk barefoot along the ocean's edge.

Returning year after year, you will find few things changed. It is that constancy and reluctance to change that seems to invite tradition and roots. Perhaps it is the sense of peacefulness and calm that blankets the island that appeals to most of us. My father always joked that each time he drove across the drawbridge and onto the island, he could hear my mother's blood pressure drop with an audible"thunk."

Even before arriving on Edisto, you will be captivated by its spell. As you drive along SC 174 (a designated scenic highway) toward the island, you will be surrounded by beautiful, 100-year-old live oak trees. The highway is bordered by these huge trees draped with Spanish moss and, in some places, their intertwined branches form a canopy overhead. It looks like the limbs from both sides of the road have strained to reach across the road and then tightly grabbed hold of one another. These evergreens are especially beautiful in winter, when contrasted against the bare branches of surrounding deciduous trees. From a distance, their romantic silhouettes are unmistakable, and with their leaves like verdant petticoats and their delicately curving branches, they are decidedly the most feminine of all trees.

This easy bike path will lead you on a five-mile tour of part of the island. This ten-mile out-and-back ride on flat terrain can be easily cycled on almost any type of bicycle, from a beach cruiser to a mountain bike. Though the trail surface is paved, portions of the path are buckled or broken, which makes it unsuitable for thin-tired road bikes. The ride begins near the marina and then curves around the lagoons of Fairfield Plantation before turning onto Jungle Road. Appropriately, the road is bordered by tangles of junglelike woods shrouded in mystery; you half expect to see a colorful toucan perched on a tree branch. The air is thick with the ever-present chirping of crickets, and though this high-pitched trill seems deafening when you first arrive on the island, it quickly melds with the background to become pleasant white noise.

General location: The trail is located on Edisto Island, between Beaufort and Charleston. See MAP.
Elevation change: There is no appreciable change in elevation. Season: This route can be ridden year-round.
Services: With the exception of a bike shop and hospital, all services are available on the island. There are two grocery stores, restaurants, and campsites and cabins at the Edisto Beach State Park. There is no motel on Edisto but there are houses, villas, and condominiums available for rent through several rental agencies on the island.
Hazards: Be sure to watch for traffic at the road crossings, especially on the Jungle Shores Road leg of the bike route.
Rescue index: The route parallels well-traveled roads from which help could easily be flagged down.
Land status: The path is maintained by the town of Edisto Beach.
Maps: The route can be found on two USGS 7.5 minute quadrangles: Edisto Beach and Edisto Island.
Finding the trail: After driving into the town of Edisto on SC 174, turn right onto Jungle Road. (Follow the signs to Fairfield Ocean Ridge.) Drive 2.7 miles to a stop sign. Turn right here and proceed an additional 1.1 miles to a large parking area for the marina just past Fairfield Ocean Ridge. Park here.

Notes on the trail: There will be signs marked "Bike Route" at the beginning of the ride and at all of the turns. After cycling 1.7 miles, you will turn left onto Jungle Road for an additional .6 mile of cycling. By turning left onto Dawoo Street, you will continue on this path. It quickly merges into Jungle Shores Road, which is the final leg of the bike route.

View: Trail Map


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