So, I’m not as young as I used to be but I still enjoy a nice bike ride. Edisto offers a number of great cycling options. My three favorites are indoors, paved roads, and dirt roads.
Indoor Cycling at Edisto
Indoors is simple. I am fortunate to have a Peloton upstairs in my home with a beautiful view of Edisto’s marshes and creek. I spend more time indoors in the saddle than I do on either of my outdoor bikes but there are many beautiful Edisto days when being inside just won’t do.
View from the Peloton
Road Biking at Edisto
Along with getting older, I have either gotten wiser or just more timid. Riding on Highway 174 for extended periods just makes me a little too nervous these days to be fun. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean I can’t still go out for a nice ride on the roads. My favorite is the beach loop. Starting at any point on the beach and doing the loop that includes all of Palmetto Boulevard, all of Docksite Road, and all of Jungle Road is just under 8 miles. Traffic is generally light (with the exception of the week of July 4) and the roads are in pretty good shape. The scenery is varying and beautiful from front beach to marsh front to creek front. Depending on how many miles you want, you can obviously ride the loop multiple times. If another loop gets to be too monotonous, consider carefully leaving the beach and crossing the causeway toward the Edistonian gas station and gift shop. After you pass the Edistonian on your right, take your first left onto Palmetto Road (not to be confused with beachfront Palmetto Boulevard). Palmetto Road joins Highway 174 at the ACE Hardware store. Palmetto Road is a nice change of pace from Palmetto Boulevard. At the very end of the road is a loop that is approximately one mile in length. The homes on this road are lovely and you also have views of the confluence of Big Bay Creek on your left and Fishing Creek coming in from your right.
Road biking on beautiful Edisto
Dirt Roads of Edisto
In addition to being afraid of biking on Highway 174, my road bike just wasn’t quite up to taking on the dirt (and sometimes mud) of Edisto’s backroads. The solution, or at least the justification, was to get a gravel bike – a bike similar to a road bike but with wider tires (and other things I don’t fully understand). This bike has made it possible for me to explore the back roads of Edisto and what a treat that is. A gravel bike is great but you can do all or part of this ride with almost any bike with wide enough tires that you are not constantly slipping in the sand or sinking in the mud. Edisto offers bike rentals if you didn’t bring one from home. Here’s my favorite back road ride at Edisto. Start at the junction of Oyster Factory Road (about three miles from the beach) and Shell House Road. The South Carolina Department of Transportation has been threatening to pave Shell House Road for years and they just might do it but I would be happy if they never did. Anyway, start on Shell House Road and ride it from Oyster Factory Road until it dead ends into Red House Road (@ 2.5 miles). Turn right on Red House Road and go directly across Highway 174 (after stopping at the stop sign and not getting squashed by a truck). When you cross Hwy. 174, Red House Road becomes Legare Road. Stay on Legare Road until you approach the causeway leading to Cowpens and Jeremy Cay. Just before the causeway, Legare Road makes a hard left and goes from paved to dirt. This is Edingsville Beach Road, take it. Edingsville Beach Road will take you past the Edisto famous vegetable stand of Pink and George and back to Highway 174. At this point, I like to take a right onto Highway 174 (there is a bike lane that helps a little). You only have to go a few hundred yards down Highway 174 before you make a right turn onto Botany Bay Road that is dirt after the first 100 yards or so. This is one of the most beautiful roads in South Carolina and probably on the East Coast. Oaks overhang the road from both sides and meet in the middle, making a perfect canopy for you to pedal under. As you near the end of Botany Road (about 7.5 miles into our ride at this point), turn left into Botany Bay Plantation. Botany Bay is managed by SC DNR. There is a sign in kiosk just as you enter the Plantation. Botany has miles of dirt roads for your riding enjoyment. I like to ride to the end of the main road and turn right toward the beach. If the path to the beach isn’t crowded (i.e., it isn’t the middle of Summer), I may ride down to the beach and even ride for a bit on the beach if the tide is out. After that, head back the way you came. When you get to the spot where you turned right to head to the beach, go straight. From that point on, follow the signs for “Tour.” Those signs will lead you on a beautiful, all dirt tour of a South Carolina plantation. Be on the look out for fox squirrels (the Incredible Hulk of the squirrel world). You will go past salt water ponds, woods, and fields. Eventually, the Tour Loop will deposit you back onto the main road at Botany. Turn right and you will hit Botany Bay Road that brought you in. At the end of Botany, you can either retrace your steps (you’re @ 16 miles in at this point) or you can turn right onto Hwy. 174. If you choose to turn right on Hwy. 174, go a few hundred yards (no bike lane this time) and you will see the Edisto Serpentarium on your right. Pause in their driveway because you want to make a left turn onto Peter’s Point Road and it’s safer to stop in the driveway than it is to drift across both lanes of 174. Cross 174 onto Peter’s Point Road. Go a mile or so and take your first left onto Red House Road. Shell House Road will be waiting on your right and if you turn onto it, you will be back to your starting point in no time. The full loop is 20 miles or a little more depending on how much exploring you do at Botany.
Botany Bay Road
Life is short. Enjoy your ride.