Biking around

A guide to enjoying a relaxing ride on the island
July 25, 2023
Things To Do

Written by Lawrence Conneff

Bikes are a great way to get around Hilton Head Island and explore its scenery and landmarks. There are 64 miles of public pathways and nature trails for cyclists and pedestrians, according to the town, plus more than 50 miles of shared paths in the island’s many private developments.

Almost 30 shops offer bicycle rentals, and the island has more than 10,000 bike rack slots, the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce says.
Public paths are also open to lower-speed, class 1 and 2 electric bicycles. Some local bike clubs offer rides for people of all experience levels. Hilton Head is recognized as a Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists.

The island has long and short pathway routes, 21 and 15 miles in length, respectively, that circle much of the island. A seven-mile beach area route takes riders from William Hilton Parkway down Pope Avenue and Cordillo Parkway and then along Forest Beach Drive. Public beach access is available nearby at Alder Lane and Coligny Beach. Around low tide, bikes can traverse about 12 miles of coastline right on the beach.

Sense of History
A 10-mile island history path will take you to a series of local landmarks in the historic Mitchelville area. Mitchelville is known as the first established community of formerly enslaved people during the Civil War, and Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park is part of the Reconstruction Era National Historic Network.
Key sites on the history path include Union Cemetery, First African Baptist Church, Fort Howell, St. James Baptist Church, Fish Haul Tabby Ruins, Cherry Hill School, Fish Haul Beach Park and Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park.

Enjoy the Scenery
Hilton Head’s public bike paths run by scenic trails at several parks, including Jarvis Creek Park and Burkes Beach. Nearby Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge has more than 14 miles of nature trails that are open to bike riders, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Pinckney Island is home to wildlife, including “waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds, raptors, neo-tropical migrants, white-tailed deer and American alligators,” officials say. Several private developments also have nature trails. Town officials say to contact individual developments for their bike access policies.
The town offers bike repair stations at Chaplin, Coligny Beach and Folly Field Beach parks. Riders can use the provided bike racks and tools to fix a chain, tighten a seat or fill up their tires. The stations are free to use, the town says.

Know the Rules
Cyclists are required to follow all local and state traffic laws on the island’s pathways, and obey traffic signals and path markings, the town says, adding that pedestrians have the right of way. They also are asked to maintain a courteous speed, ride single file with a safe distance between bikes, keep to the right side of the path, announce to others when they plan to pass on the left, and move off the path when they are stopped. Helmets are encouraged, the town says.

If you’re riding a bike at night, make sure it has a headlight and a red rear reflector, wear appropriate clothing and bring along a flashlight. Most of the pathways are not illuminated, the town says.

The chamber says most shops encourage people to schedule bike rentals about 72 hours ahead of time, especially in the busy summer months. Visitors who have a bike at their disposal should enjoy a convenient way around much of the island, whether they’re going to the beach, observing Lowcountry wildlife or visiting historic sites.