Hiking and Biking
If you’re like me, you’ll walk your legs off just making your way around the sights on the peninsula. Early risers will especially enjoy the beauty of dawn breaking over the Cooper River as they walk or jog along the Battery or a little farther north at Waterfront Park.
Charleston-area beaches are perfect for a leisurely bike ride on the sand. Sullivan’s Island is a particular favorite, and you might be surprised at how long you can ride in one direction on these beaches.
Those desiring a more demanding use of their legs can walk or ride their bike in the dedicated pedestrian/bike lane on the massive Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge over the Cooper River, the longest cable-stayed bridge in the western hemisphere. The extra lanes are a huge advantage over the old span on the same site, and a real example for other cities to follow in sustainable transportation solutions. There’s public parking on both sides of the bridge, on the Charleston side off of Meeting Street and on the Mount Pleasant side on the road to Patriots Point.
Bike the Bridge Rentals (360 Concord St., 843/853-2453, www.bikethebridgerentals.com) offers self-guided tours over the Ravenel Bridge and back on a Raleigh Comfort bike, and also rents road bikes for lengthier excursions.
In West Ashley, there’s an urban walking/biking trail, the West Ashley Greenway, built on a former rail bed. The 10-mile trail runs parallel to U.S. 17 and passes parks, schools, and the Clemson Experimental Farm, ending near John Island. To get to the trailhead from downtown, drive west on U.S. 17. About a half-mile after you cross the bridge, turn left onto Folly Road (Highway 171). At the second light, turn right into South Windermere Shopping Center; the trail’s behind the center on the right.
The most ambitious trail in South Carolina is the Palmetto Trail (www.palmettoconservation.org), begun in 1997 and eventually covering 425 miles from the Atlantic to the Appalachians. The coastal terminus near Charleston, the seven-mile Awendaw Passage through the Francis Marion National Forest, begins at the trailhead at the Buck Hall Recreational Area (843/887-3257, $5 vehicle fee), which has parking and bathroom facilities. Get there by taking U.S. 17 north about 20 miles out of Charleston and through the Francis Marion National Forest and then Awendaw. Take a right onto Buck Hall Landing Road.
Another good nature hike outside town is on the eight miles of scenic and educational trails at Caw Caw Interpretive Center (5200 Savannah Hwy., 843/889-8898, www.ccprc.com, Wed.–Fri. 9 a.m.–3 p.m., Sat.–Sun. 9 a.m.–5 p.m., $1) in nearby Ravenel on an old rice plantation.
One of the best outfitters in town is Half Moon Outfitters (280 King St., 843/853-0990, www.halfmoonoutfitters.com, Mon.–Sat. 10 a.m.–7 p.m., Sun. noon–6 p.m.). They have a Mount Pleasant location (425 Coleman Blvd., 843/881-9472) as well (and it has better parking).
© Jim Morekis from Moon Charleston & Savannah, 4th Edition