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Best Island Views Can Be From Your Bike

Hilton Head Island is well-known as a premier destination if bicycling is on your agenda for your Hilton Head vacation.  The town of Hilton Head has not only done an excellent job maintaining the bicycle paths in existence, but it has also continued its mission to keep Hilton Head a Bicycle Friendly Community.

In 2011, Hilton Head Island was awarded a Silver designation as a Bicycle Friendly Community by The League of American Bicyclists.  It has the only Silver designation in South Carolina, with five other areas being awarded Bronze. 

Shared paths designated for bicycles, walkers, joggers, and others wind around public roads, providing a safe haven for bicyclists to enjoy exploring our 12-mile island.  Evidence of Hilton Head’s acknowledgement of the enormity of the bicycle community on our island is the 10,000-plus bike rack slots to park your bike while shopping, eating, beaching or exploring.

Hilton Head’s vision for separate pathways for bicycle enthusiasts began where many of Hilton Head Island’s original visions for the future took place–Sea Pines Resort, with Charles Fraser at its helm.  There was discord between Fraser and those actually bulldozing the roadways laid down prior to the bike paths.  Those charged with planning the roads wished to forge ahead using straight angles. Fraser and Glen McCaskey (his head of environmental and recreational development), imagined roads winding among the picturesque Low country trees.  The canopy of oaks and Spanish moss along winding Sea Pines roads have become landmarks of our beautiful island.  My father, Glen, and Fraser supervised the creation by sitting atop bulldozers when land was being levelled for paving–to ensure the vision of a natural environment was upheld.  By 1972 the planning of a separate path system for bicycles in Sea Pines had begun. 

Bike trails were first scoffed at by executives and the public as a ridiculous notion.  People thought perfectly good permeable surfaces already existed.  Why put in separate roads for bicycles?  Fraser had to swim upstream against public sentiment to bring the paths to fruition.

Oddly, no one was seriously interested in the bike rental business in those days either although there were a few “rust buckets” here and there.  My father ended up backing his secretary’s husband, an Aerospace engineer from Oregon, to start a well-planned bike rental business that set the standard for such enterprises on the island. 

Look where Hilton Head is today!  40-plus years later there are over 100 miles of paved terrain allocated for bicycles and shared pathways.  I can travel almost anywhere on Hilton Head by bicycle.  If I wished to enter Sea Pines Resort, I would need to purchase a pass just as if I were traveling by car.  I find it worth it and easier to find parking than by car in busy summer months!   Other private and gated communities are available to bike through only if you own property or are a guest – just like those of you staying in Shipyard have access to all of the Shipyard paths.  You should not feel limited though – you’ll have more than enough ground to cover within public areas!

Not only do you have endless bike paths, and shared pathways available to you, but you also have 12-miles of wide-open hard packed sandy beach.  Biking on the beach is a perfect way to experience the beauty and wildlife of Hilton Head up close with sandpipers and pelicans flying along with you.  It’s easy to forget how far you’ve ridden as you’re mesmerized by the seascape.  Remember what your entry spot to the beach looks like because tree and building combinations all start to look similar after pedaling down the beach for an hour or so! See for yourself why riding on the beach is a favorite among visitors and residents.

If you don’t bring bikes with you, there are many types of bicycles you can rent – so people of all ages and abilities can enjoy.   It is not required to wear helmets in South Carolina but we encourage wearing one.   Make sure to obey all bike path traffic signs (yes, those stop signs are for you!) Also, it is common courtesy to ride responsibly and share the paths with other bicyclists, joggers, lollygaggers and dogs etcetera. So hop on that bicycle and pedal off where grand explorations await! Enjoy!

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