Hilton Head Island: Back to Nature

A bike ride along the beach or a stroll through the salt marsh is the best way to experience Hilton Head Island’s natural beauty.

Hilton Head is known for more than 55 miles of bike- and pedestrian-friendly public paths throughout the island, and it’s certainly a treat to leave the car parked and enjoy the ocean breeze and shade from the palmetto trees while going from one vacation activity to the next.

While walking or biking is often more practical and certainly more environmentally sustainable than driving, there are certain places on the island where it’s necessary to leave the confines of the vehicle to simply appreciate the soft breeze and warm sun while listening to the sounds of wildlife.

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Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge

More than 14 miles of trails are open to both hiking and bicycling in this 4,053-acre nature refuge. The trails range from shaded paths in the woods to those with expansive views over the marshland. The trails are wide, flat and well-maintained making them great for walking, but ideal for biking if you want to see more of the sites and views on the island. A brochure available in the parking area has a map and trail guide with suggested paths and estimated times. Saltwater fishing is also permitted in the estuarine waters adjacent to the refuge.

Hilton HeadThe Beach

Hilton Head has 12 miles of public beaches that are wide and hard-packed, making them ideal for a stroll any time of day or night. It’s even more fun to bike along the beach, and it’s amazing how easy it is to lose track of time and cover all 12 miles in an afternoon. With essentials like a beach towel, camera, sunscreen, water bottle and maybe a good book or two stashed in the bike’s basket, an entire day can be spent enjoying the view from the sand at any point along the coast.

Sea Pines Forest Preserve

The Sea Pines Forest Preserve is the largest tract of undeveloped land on the island and includes approximately 2 miles of walking trails made up of wetland boardwalks, observation decks and well-kept paths. The Indian Shell Ring marks the site of a 4,000 year old Nomadic Indian village, and the wildflower meadow boasts acres of native flowers for a picture-perfect scene. The preserve has previously been used to grow rice, indigo and cotton. Guided activities include boat tours, fishing, walking and wagon tours, and trail rides. Trail maps are also available at either entrance. A $5 entry fee is required to enter Sea Pines Resort.

Audubon Newhall Preserve

This smaller, 50-acre preserve has 2 miles of easy walking trails with abundant information about the plants and animals that grow here. Visitors can enjoy the preserve on their own or join a free guided group tour that runs seasonally every Thursday at 10 a.m. Knowledgeable tour guides provide information about the animals that live here, from the alligators to the egrets, and also about the plants, like the wax myrtle that is native to the area and can be used both as food and as an insect repellant. There is no cost to enter the preserve, but donations are welcome.

180120337Renting a Bike

Hilton Head Island is so bike friendly that renting a bicycle is about as easy as can be. Contact one of nearly 30 bicycle rental shops, like Hilton Head Bicycle Company, before you arrive and your two-wheeled chariots will be waiting for you at your resort upon arrival. They’ll also pick them up when you leave. Hilton Head Bicycle Company offers free baskets and locks with their bikes, as well as options for renting tandem bikes, mountain bikes, adult and kid sized cruisers, trailers, tag-a-longs and baby seats.

Love bicycle and pedestrian friendly destinations where you can leave your car behind? Check out these RTX destinations that you can enjoy by foot or bike.

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