The 10 Best Mountain Biking Trails in South Carolina
Named after King Charles I of England, South Carolina, is the state with the 23rd highest population in the United States of America. It is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, Georgia, and North Carolina, to the southeast, southwest, and north, respectively.
Nicknamed the Palmetto State, South Carolina is divided into three broad regions; the Piedmont area, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the Atlantic Coastal Plain. These regions are further subdivided into five cultural sections: the Pee Dee area, the lower Piedmont, the Upstate, the Lowcountry, and the upper Piedmont area.
South Carolina serves up several opportunities to the outdoor enthusiast, and mountain bikers are not left out. The parks and trails in the state offer a good range of forests, nature preserves, and water bodies, making a good case for lovers of nature. Wherever you go in South Carolina, you are sure to encounter wildlife in abundance.
Here, we present a list of ten mountain biking trails to ride in the beautiful state of South Carolina.
1. Hunting Island State Park
Every year, over a million visitors are attracted to the Hunting Island State Park, which is popular for its wide range of outdoor recreational activities, wildlife, and beaches. The lighthouse, which is open to the public, is one of the state parks’ highlights. At 130 feet above sea level, the lighthouse gives you a bird’s eye view of the Atlantic Coast and the lush forest that envelopes the park.
With over 20 miles of trails that vary in their difficulty levels, Hunting Island caters to every biker’s needs. The Diamondback Rattlesnake trail is a devilish trail that was redesigned in 2019 after many storms ravaged the original trail. Mountain bikers with lots of experience will relish the chance to take on this trail. The steep climbs and many technical areas will challenge any rider. Beginners would find the 5 miles long Little Hunting Island Loop Trail interesting. The trail came about as a result of two separate hurricanes and may still occasionally get flooded.
There are 12 trails, combining for a total of 16 miles. Most of the courses are short rides, measuring less than a mile, designed for beginners. The area is flood-prone and continually evolving. So every visit might be different from the last.
2. Horry County Bike Run Park
One of the most well-known bike trails in South Carolina, the Horry County Bike Run Park is also known as the Hulk.
This 7-mile long trail never disappoints. Although there is no mountain around the area, do not be tricked into believing that this ride is comfortable. The path is anything but easy. There are lots of jumps and switchbacks. The trail also tends to get water-logged whenever it rains. The trail is well-groomed, but it is mostly unpredictable. Aggressive bikers would enjoy this speedy trail, as the many sharp bends and jumps can give that adrenaline pump.
If you are looking for a leisurely ride, this trail is not for you, as you might get run over by other bikers. The location is heavily trafficked by visitors and locales and can get too busy at certain periods in the year. Many groups come here to ride together and get the thrill that comes with a proper workout.
3. Paris Mountain State Park
Going as far back as the era of the Great Depression is the Paris Mountain, State Park. Positioned in Greenville, the park was established by the Civilian Conservation Corps, and it attracts mountain bikers and hikers all year round.
The park has over 15 miles of trails, with 10 individual tracks. The trails are rated intermediate, although there are few easy ones and one strenuous trail. The paths are mostly rocky or packed dirt routes, strewn with rock gardens and roots. Wildlife abounds in this gem of a park, with turtles, squirrels, snakes, and deer, some of the animals you can hope to find along the trails.
The most challenging trail here is the Brissy Ridge Trail, which serves both hikers and mountain bikers. The trail is a 2-mile loop that is filled with roots and rocks. The climb is strenuous and goes through an oak and pine forest. Other courses open to mountain bikers are the Kanuga trail, the Mountain Creek Trail, and the North Lake Trail. With so much to see, the Paris Mountain State Park should be on your to-do list.
4. Wannamaker North Trail
Located in the northern section of Wannamaker County Park is a 13-mile trail explicitly designed for mountain rides. Wannamaker North trail has only one trailhead, located at Goose Creek. Hikers and walkers also use the trail, but bikers would enjoy it the most.
Constructed by a group of volunteers, the Lowcountry Fat Tire Freaks, the trail is designed to give the best mountain biking feel. It features numerous tight curves and sharp elevation changes. Roots form a prominent part of this trail’s thrill, creating obstacles all through the ride. Beech and Oak trees line up the trail’s path, all through to the northeast portion, where advanced riders will find their match on the narrow ridgeline built to challenge bikers. There is a BMX-themed skills area where advanced riders can romp around and showcase their bike handling abilities.
The most frequented route here is the Green Loop, which can be ridden as a part of the trail or independently. The loop can be a rapid cracker or a gentle ride, depending on who is behind the handlebars. Every day of the week, there is a different direction pasted on trailhead for bikers to follow.
5. The Killer 3 Loop Trail
A two-hour drive away from Wannamaker North Trail will bring you to the Killer 3 Loop Trail, located in Poinsett Park in the town of Wedgefield. The ride could be comfortable or challenging, short or long, depending on the rider’s taste.
This Killer 3 Loop Trail system, shortened as the K3, consists of a hundred percent singletrack trails. The 5-mile ride would take an average of two hours to complete. The courses are generally flat, excluding some climbs that are more difficult than they look. The sandy trail is unofficially rated an intermediate trail, but riders at any level would find the trail appealing. If you are looking to make the most out of your visit to Wedgefield, then a good bet would be to ride the adjoining Red Loop Trail or another similar trail, The Knot. When combined with K3, you have a nice ride long enough to satisfy your craving for days.
6. Anne Springs Close Greenway
Set aside in 1995 as a nature preservation location, the Anne Springs Close Greenway has become a hub for outdoor recreational activities. Hikers, horseback riders, families and groups looking for suitable spots for their picnics, and those merely looking to escape the humdrum of urban areas have all found this location welcoming.
With a trail network measuring 40 miles and constantly expanding, it is not too difficult to see why bikers love this spot. The Greenway is properly marked at every major point. The hiking trails are blazed with yellow, the horseback riding trails with purple, and the mountain biking trails with red. The paths are notoriously difficult to navigate, even the so-called easy ones. Perhaps the most challenging trail on this list, the tracks do not pretend to cater to the needs of newbies or bikers looking for a leisurely ride.
Confident intermediate and advanced riders would find the trails here enthralling. The multiple stream crossings, steep climbs, and free-flowing downhills that accompany these singletrack trails would leave your glutes aching and your heart beating faster than ever. The difficulty of these trails does not take away the beautiful scenery all around it. Steele Creek can be seen in its full glory while riding these trails. Sugar loop is a must ride, alongside the Prairie Loop and its lesser-known counterpart, the School Loop.
7. Baker Creek
Located within the environs of Lake Thurmond, Baker Creek is operated seasonally as opposed to being an all-year-round recreational facility. The course flows through Pine and Oak forests.
Lake Thurmond looms large in the background of Baker Creek Trails. There are two other loops plus the main trail that combine for a 10-mile total length of dirt paths through a forest of giant trees. A poplar tree touted to be the largest in South Carolina can be found along the trails. Dense vegetation, with its attendant catalog of wildlife, can be found here.
The loops are straightforward and can be followed easily, even without the many signs on the track. Most trails here rank from easy to moderately challenging, making it suitable for anyone who can ride a bike.
8. Gateway Mountain Bike Park
Another purpose-built park for mountain bikers to savor is the Gateway Mountain Bike Park. Occupying a very tiny expanse of land, the mountain bike trails were designed for bikers of all skill levels to sharpen their bike handling skills.
Seeing the park’s size, one could be tempted into thinking that the trails would only serve beginner riders. Nothing could be farther than the truth. It is entirely possible to ride all the tracks over and again without feeling you have wholly conquered them.
With a little experience, amateurs looking to take their mastery up a notch will find this park useful, with its flow paths and rock gardens. A short and speedy trial here will thrill advanced riders. With Paris Mountain State Park within the vicinity, this could be a great way to flex your joints in preparation for Paris Mountain. Anyone can ride the loops here and still get the workout that all bikers yearn for.
9. Santee State Park
Famous for its unique and plentiful breed of catfish, the Santee State Park is situated in Santee Cooper Country. The park is particularly appealing to fishers and people looking to ride a boat due to its proximity to Lake Marion. But over the years, mountain bikers have begun to take a slice of the park’s trails for themselves. Many families come here for the serene atmosphere and the opportunity to bond.
There are 10 miles of trails that hikers and mountain bikers can use. The trails are mostly flat and easy. Cypress and Pine’s trees line up the paths. The paths are blazed in blue to keep you on course. At some point, a clear view of Lake Marion can be seen from the trail. The longest trail is 7.5 miles long and meanders through many miles of pine forests. There are five more trails, all of them short and fast. It is no place for advanced bikers as there are very few signs of obstacles or difficult terrain.
10. Hickory Knob State Resort Park
Another park is located around the massive Thurmond reservoir. Hickory Knob is a full vacation facility, complete with an archery range, golf resort, and of course, mountain biking trails, among other facilities. The park is situated in an outlandish area but continues to meet the expectations of the visitors that troop in all year round.
There are three interconnected trails, with the longest being Lakeview Loop Trail, a 7.2-mile singletrack trail with rugged terrain. Here, as with the other trails at Hickory Knob, the uphill climbs are not very lengthy, but they pose a good challenge. Rocks and roots litter the trail’s path, which courses through pine woods and oak trees. Another trail that is a must ride is the Turkey Ridge Loop Trail. This curvy singletrack trail has several stream crossings and sharp bends that must be negotiated with utmost care. Beginners would find this trail tasking and too complicated, but it is just the right shade of difficulty for intermediate riders.
Overall, the trails here are rated intermediate, with just the right mix of flowy and challenging rides gracing this location. There is plenty of wildlife here too; deer and birds can be seen riding any of these fantastic trails.
Though South Carolina may not be particularly hilly or mountainous, it has its fair share of trails that will surely put a smile on your face. The majority of the trails are short and easy to ride, making it an excellent spot for beginners and families to learn or hone the art of mountain biking.
One thing that is not lacking in the state is the presence of natural obstacles likes roots and rock gardens. South Carolina’s many trails will leave you spoilt for choice. So Pack up your bike and prepare for the ride of a lifetime.