This little-known section of the East Coast Greenway traverses 5.2-miles of scenic and historic terrain. Paleo Indians dating back to 2000 B.C. hunted in the area and traveled along the New River. Several thousand years later, the land was used for the cultivation of rice and timber.
Located off May River Road (S.C. 46/170), the trail runs on both sides of the highway along an old railroad bed that was once part of the Seaboard Air Line Railway. I recently rode the south section that ends at the New River.
The trail starts out through a hardwood forest and then opens onto a grassy path, crossing the remains of long-abandoned rice fields. This time of year when there is less foliage, you can see the original grid of channels and earthen dams.
After about 2.5 miles you arrive at the New River, Beaufort County’s only freshwater river. The 35-mile blackwater tributary begins as an intermittent fresh water stream and then widens into a freshwater river. Downstream it mixes with tidal seawater, eventually emptying into the Atlantic Ocean.
On the north side of May River Road, the route takes you through the Great Swamp and an area once harvested for timber. It ends at a gate by the Sun City property line.
The fairly flat terrain makes it easy to ride, but you’ll still need a bike with fat tires. The trail also is popular with walkers and joggers. To access the New River Trail, look for the Heritage at New Riverside neighborhood on the south side of May River Road. The parking area is between the two entrances to the community.
To get across the highway, use the underpass that was part of the old railway line. It’s below the bridge.