A family bike ride can be one of your most precious memories of vacation. But like all activities that involve kids, it's best to set everyone up for success. Kids are likelier to be happier and more successful on flat trails, or ones with easy grades to get up and down hills. (Their parents' muscles might be thankful for those easy grades, too!) A dedicated bike path away from motorized traffic is ideal, especially with sometimes unsteady little riders who might veer into traffic without realizing they're doing it. Parents will be happy to find restrooms along the way and places to refill water bottles. And everyone would like to have beautiful and fun things to look at. Here are our suggestions for some great bike rides that meet all those criteria.
Swamp Rabbit Trail
More than 20 miles long, the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville runs along an old train bed, and therefore has a gentle grade, perfect for kids. It also runs along the gorgeous Reedy River and through downtown, making it as exciting and beautiful as it is family friendly. The trail ends in lovely Travelers Rest, and there are many restrooms, water fountains, and places to park along the way. You can find an interactive map here.
Spanish moss Trail
It would be hard to come up with a more fitting name for a trail in Beaufort County, SC than the Spanish moss Trail. Spanish moss seems to drip off everything in Beaufort, and a day spent cycling under the shady trees, over the creeks and along the marshes of this magical place. The 10-mile trail actually begins in the tiny town of Port Royal, with plans to expand the trail both down to Sands Beach and out into the countryside another 6 miles. Another rail to trail project, the path is smooth and mostly flat, perfect for even the littlest cyclists. There are two restrooms along the way, and six different places to park to pick up the trail.
Waccamaw Neck Bikeway
Running from Murrells Inlet to Huntington Beach State Park, through Pawleys Island and Litchfield Beach, the Waccamaw Neck Bikeway (frequently known as Bike the Neck) runs through lush maritime forest to one of the most beautiful parks in all of South Carolina. The beginning of the trail, in Murrells Inlet, is a dedicated bike lane on the side of very busy Highway 17, and so might not be appropriate for the youngest cyclists. The majority of the trail, however, is a separate paved (and very flat) trail that is perfect for families. You'll find restrooms and water in Huntington Beach State Park.
Hilton Head Island
And finally, the granddaddy of all South Carolina family bicycle trips: the trails on Hilton Head Island. The island is crisscrossed by 60 miles of dedicated public bike trails, and another 50 miles of private trails within resort plantations. Maps of the trail system are readily available at all resorts, and signs and kiosks along the trails make navigation easy. The island is so beautiful that it's hard to pick a wrong a trail. You can even use the trails to ride to a shop for sunscreen or dinner at a restaurant, or to the beach itself. And if you're feeling especially adventurous, consider riding on the beach at low tide, when the hard sand along the waterline makes for a beautiful and easy ride.