Bikes line Charleston sidewalk — Photo courtesy of Maggie Tuten
Offering easily navigable terrain and a mild climate (during most months of the year), Charleston is an ideal cycling town. Furthermore, the area itself is beginning to realize just how cycling-friendly it is and the locals appear poised to solidify their reputation as a biking destination. With miles upon miles of roads and trails to traverse, the coastal town provides a scenic and historical backdrop for those traveling on two wheels.
The mass appeal has not gone unnoticed; bicycles are available for rent throughout the city and are even provided by some hotels for no charge. In addition, the region offers plenty of bike trails that lead cyclists through historic territory. The coastal landscape to be found along forest and marsh trails, or even alongside downtown's Battery Park, is reason enough to tour the area via bicycle. Notable treks or tours include:
Downtown Charleston & Cooper River Bridge
Begin at the Visitors' Center and bike historical streets such as King St. and Ashley Ave., heading towards the Citadel. You'll then bike along the Battery, enjoying views of the harbor as you work your way to the Cooper River Bridge. 360-degree views and photo ops abound from this vantage point. Trek ends back up at the Visitors' Center.
Battery Park — Photo courtesy of Maggie Tuten
Swamp Fox Passage
For a different type of trail, this 47-mile unpaved path offers easy and flat terrain full of interesting flora and fauna. Great for cyclists of different endurance levels and preferences, with several places to cut your ride short. For those who prefer a little camping with their biking, five campsites can be found along this trail.
Charleston Bicycle Tours
One of the city's best touring companies, Charleston Bicycle Tours offers complete tour packages in 3- and 6-day varieties. Route planning, tour transportation and luxury lodging are included. Custom tours are also available.
For shorter or alternative tours/paths, Coastal Cyclists (the local bicycle club) offer some great online route maps, as well as route books which can be found in local bike shops.
With more cyclists catching onto Charleston's bike-friendly surroundings, new bike and pedestrian paths are being approved on a fairly regular basis. Plus, a 24-mile bike route is being proposed that will connect the entire Charleston area, from the Isle of Palms to downtown to Folly Beach. This lowcountry town is set up to be a true cycling mecca, complete with Southern hospitality.