There’s no better way to get around Hilton Head Island than by bike. From scenic coastal roads to winding tree-lined streets, cycling is the easiest – and dare we say most enjoyable – way to get around and see everything Hilton Head Island has to offer.
So where exactly can you go? We’ve put together some trail options for both the beginner biker and the more experienced cyclist. So get ready to put your Palmetto Dunes vacation into gear – bike gear that is!
Bike the beach
Map link: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zF2Uc5Nz45wU.ksRGl7jIYboE&usp=sharing
Start at the Hilton Head Outfitters. This is where you’ll rent a bike. We offer bikes for every member of your family and can get you set up with everything you’ll need from helmets to maps.
Get a feel for your bike on the path along Ocean Lane Drive. Stick to the dedicated bike path, it’s safer and makes for better views. If you want to stop to take a photo, just pull over to the side so other cyclists can pass on the left.
There are access points to the beach all along Ocean Lane Drive. Bikes can be ridden easily on the packed sands, especially at low tide, so take a leisurely ride along the beach and see Hilton Head Island’s best side .
The trick to beach riding is not to try and go too fast–probably best if you’re just starting out, anyway. Take in the atmosphere as you wind up the beach to find a good spot for that take-out lunch from Big Jim’s you packed in the bike’s basket.
Over 200 miles of pathway
Map link: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zF2Uc5Nz45wU.kbVK_e6yLjdM&usp=sharing
Hilton Head Island is completely connected by bike paths. Many follow main roads providing cyclists a safe, quick way to get around the island. From the Outfitters by the beach, head on the paths along Queens Folly Road and under the highway to Shelter Cove Harbour and Marina.
This is a great spot for lunch or evening entertainment and it’s only a short bike away. Lock your bike in one of the many bike racks and head off for some shopping, or to ride a jet pack, at the marina.
At Shelter Cove, you’ll find your first pathway kiosk. These are dotted all over Hilton Head Island and are your link to the rest of the trails with maps and other local info. You’ve only just connected to the main Hilton Head bike network.
Now it’s time to experience the lowcountry. Take a proper bike trip north along the William Hilton Parkway, onto Marshlands Drive, then turn right onto Leg O Mutton Road, which takes you up a winding path on a lovely, quiet, wooded ride through the heart of Hilton Head Island’s amazing ecosystem.
From there, bear left and go under the highway and you’ll find the Honey Horn park and the Coastal Discovery Museum, both great ways to get close to the island’s nature. Or bear right and turn at Beach City Road to pass under the live oak canopy and into old Mitchelville, the first community in America founded by freed slaves.
The serious cyclist
Map link: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zF2Uc5Nz45wU.k1EcNie2pIuo&usp=sharing
There’s lots to do for every level of cyclist at Palmetto Dunes, so if you’re looking for more than a slow ride along the beach, take a trip through some of Bluffton’s most historic and scenic wetlands.
Bike out highway 278 (the Parkway) to the town of Bluffton. This is about a two and a half hour ride along flat, public roads.
In Bluffton, turn left onto Lake Point Drive and then right onto highway 46, the May River Road. You’ll pass through Pritchardville, then come to a parking lot for the New River Linear Trail.
That’s a short hiking/biking trail along an old railbed, and runs south to the river through remote lowcountry. There are interpretive signs documenting the area’s history, and the trail is part of the East Coast Greenway project, so experienced trail riders can connect to other nearby trails.
If you’re up for a few miles more, continue along May River Road and right onto highway 170 then left when you reach highway 17. That’ll take you to the Savannah Wildlife Refuge where you can explore all manner of flora and fauna.
If you do head off Hilton Head Island, make sure you’re prepared with water and snacks to keep you fueled for your adventure. Allow at least a couple of hours riding to get back before dark, too.
A few handy tips and tricks:
- In peak season, it’s a very good idea to book a bike at least 72 hours ahead of time. If you plan to do a lot of cycling, call Hilton Head Outfitters (866) 380-1783 in advance of arrival to snag a good bike.
- You can get a variety of attachments for carrying young children, all from the Outfitters.
- Wash down the bike after you use it. This helps clean off corrosive salt picked up from sand.
- Lock the bike at all times.
- Remember to bring water for longer bike trips to stay hydrated.