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Biking on Hilton Head – Another Reason this Island is so Special


Bicycle Friendly Community-Hilton Head Island, SCHilton Head Island is known as a family oriented resort destination and for its leadership in environmental preservation and resource conservation practices. The pathway network provides a safe transportation alternative by connecting residential, commercial and recreation areas of the town.

Bicycling is a key component differentiating this community from other resort communities and significantly reduces the congestion and vehicular traffic that would otherwise be generated. By constructing and maintaining the extensive pathway network the Town of Hilton Head Island is improving community connectivity, providing transportation options, improving the appeal of the island to visitors interested in cycling while on vacation, and keeping pedestrian, cyclist and driver safety as important components of pathway development.

Quick bike lane and pathway facts

On our 12-mile long and five-mile wide island, we have:

  • 6 miles of bike lanes
  • 117 miles of shared-use pathways
  • 108 miles of paved shared use paths
  • 14 miles of planned pathways
  • 1 mile of singletrack
  • 24% of arterial streets have bike lanes or paved shoulders

Staying in touch

The Town of Hilton Head Island maintains a help line, which is posted on town provided bike maps and information kiosks. This help line is staffed by the town's facilities management department and is used for pathway users to report unsafe conditions. It is widely distributed to residents who are frequent pathway users.

Riding Bikes in Harbour TownHilton Head's Hidden Bike Routes

Discover destinations on Hilton Head Island that incorporate our rich history and natural beauty, yet receive few visitors.  They are peaceful parks accessible by bicycle along the Island’s 50-plus miles of public multi-use pathways. 

Fish Haul Creek Park – Beach City Road
Nature features a selection of maritime forest, wetland, salt marsh and beach at Fish Haul Creek.  The remote 16 acre park presents its natural beauty via an observation boardwalk out to the salt marsh and a shaded trail that winds through the live oaks to the sandy shore of Port Royal Sound.  The sand and mud of the tidal flats provide a feeding, resting and play ground for shore birds and marine creatures.  The ebb and flow of tide alters the beach constantly, so each hour brings something new. At low tide, the flats become a local’s beach reaching far into the sound. The sand is dotted with explorers focused on clams, fish, shells or a quiet walk.  

As you admire the grand view and varied habitats, consider the park’s history. You stand on ground that Native Americans called home over three thousand years ago.  In 1862, Mitchelville was founded here, built and self-governed by freed slaves, the first such community in America. 

bikefathersonBarker Field Observation Deck – Mitchelville Road
Tucked back behind the baseball and soccer fields of Barker Field hides a long boardwalk which carries you over a brackish marsh toward Port Royal Sound.  An observation deck awaits you at the end of the boardwalk, delivering an expansive view across the Sound.  To the east is the Atlantic, to the west the Broad River.  In the early morning, the magnificent sunrise draws your attention out to the ocean.  A sky filled with pink, purple, yellow and blue greets your day.  Bring your gaze to the left to take in the sights of St. Helena and Parris Islands.    

Sit quietly for a few minutes and listen as the marsh songbirds serenade you with a tune.  As they sing, reflect on the 1861 Battle of Port Royal that saw two Drayton brothers fighting in the same battle, but on opposite sides of the Civil War. Then, pause and bring to mind the young U.S. Marine Corp recruits training across the way on Parris Island. Consider those past and future military heroes. Honor them in your own way. 

Greens Shell Community Park – Squire Pope Road
What first appears to be a pleasant park with a collection of playground equipment, a half-court basketball hoop and picnic area turns into a stroll back in time.  You are about to enter a site listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  Walk through the small gate into Amalie Cemetery and turn down the wood-chip path to the right.  You will be lead to an elevated boardwalk and platform which protects an archeological gem. As you stand on the platform, peer down on the earthen and oyster shell ring, which is four feet high and thirty feet wide at the base.  The large shell ring encloses about 2 acres of land and defines the outside of a Native American farming village dating back to 1335 AD.  Stroll over the enclosed area to the platform across the way.  You are now above the other side of the ring and looking out over Skull Creek and the inter-coastal waterway toward Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge.  Did you feel anything different as you crossed the center of the ring?  You just walked through the village.

Shelter Cove Bike RidingThe Veterans Memorial at Shelter Cove Community Park – Shelter Cove Lane
The American and POW/MIA flags fly vigil day and night over a white granite memorial honoring veterans of American military service. The memorial sits in a quiet park on the east bank of Broad Creek.  Walk along the pathway through the park and take in the view over marsh and creek at the observation deck.  Sit a spell on one of the benches under the arbors.   Peace and patriotism will join you there.   Twice each year, on Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day, the community fills the memorial lawn to honor members of our armed forces past and present.

Old House Creek Pier – Sterling Pointe Drive

Old House Creek hosts a secluded fishing and crabbing pier with a vista across Calibogue Sound.  The pier receives a variety of visitors, and the wildlife viewing area at the end of the 225 foot pier offers a place to watch.  A school of shrimp scamper across the surface of the water.  Fiddler crabs flow together in their sideways dance down the mud bank, ready to dart into the closest hole.  Bikes bring folks that fish and crab the slow moving creek.  A small neighborhood gathers at sunset to close the day, a nightly ritual for some families.

Looking to the pathway future

Sign indicating the biking pathwayWhen new town parks are designed and constructed a connection to the existing pathway network is always a main consideration. The Town of Hilton Head Island has installed kiosks on island pathways and renovated existing kiosks in the past several years. The kiosks feature detailed maps showing the pathway system and the points for beach access along the pathway network. The maps include close-up detail of the immediate pathway area showing locations of eating areas, parks, points of interest, rest stops, descriptive and education information about the island and surrounding area. The kiosk maps also contain safety rules.

Similar kiosks have been installed along the pathways in the Town's two largest private communities, Sea Pines and Hilton Head Plantation. The Sea Pines community is a resort-oriented community with 17 miles of pathways. Many of the kiosks in Sea Pines include pockets containing Sea Pines bike trail maps of which more than 15,000 are distributed annually to visitors. The South Carolina Department of Transportation recently completed a road resurfacing project that included extending road shoulders to providing approximately two additional feet of paved shoulder on several arterial roads within the Town.

Educating residents and visitors and encouraging use of the pathway system

Bikers using the pathway systemWhile pathways have been in place in parts of Hilton Head Island for nearly 40 years and growth of the system has continued without interruption since the late 1960s, the eco-friendly aspects of the island -- including a dense canopy of pines and live oaks -- sometimes keeps these pathways somewhat of a secret. Lately, with the emergence of recreational biking as a much more popular pursuit, especially among families, the secret is out. Now part of the challenge is to encourage safe cycling in general, and sharing the road.

Sharing the road safely is in most instances for active "A" cyclists, especially where pathways become shared roadway trails at intersections and when pathways cross roads. The Beaufort County Sheriff's office sends public service announcements to local media when running and cycling events are taking place, urging motorists to be cautious of event participants.

History of biking is a piece of the island’s commitment to eco-tourism

The Hilton Head Island community has a history of environmental leadership and remains a pioneer in the green movement. Multi-use pathways were constructed on the island when development first began in the early 1970's and has not stopped. There are over 100 miles of pathways and this number is growing yearly and there are 12 miles of hard packed beach accessible to bicycles from several access points along the pathway network. Over two million visitors make Hilton Head Island their vacation destination annually. These visitors are attracted to this community because of the beaches, natural beauty, shopping, recreation, and dining offerings. Bicycling is becoming an important part of this mix because it offers visitors an attractive and convenient way to explore the island and enjoy what Hilton Head Island has to offer.

Biking – a reason to come here

Man and woman biking on the beachThe Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce and Visitor and Convention Bureau (VCB) is designated as the official marketing organization for Hilton Head Island and is focused on developing strategies designed to lure visitors year round to enjoy beaches, golf, outdoor recreation, watersports, the relaxed Lowcountry environment, restaurants, shopping and much more.

Hilton Head Island was the first community in the country developed with environmental sensitivity at its core, and although perhaps not designed with sustainability in mind, bicycle pathways were incorporated into the central infrastructure from the very beginning.

Those bicycle pathways - first in Sea Pines Plantation and later spreading, thanks to the Town's commitment, to elsewhere on the island, were first considered attractive, activity alternatives, primarily for children. Times have changed and now the Town's network of 100-plus miles of bicycle pathways are a legitimate draw worth promoting, especially to families, and Hilton Head Island is decidedly a family destination.

Contact Us
1 Chamber of Commerce Drive
PO Box 5647
Hilton Head Island, SC 29938

Toll-Free in US: 800-523-3373

Hilton Head Island Visitor & Convention Bureau