John F. Kennedy once said, “Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike.” Whether it’s a tricycle, road bike, mountain bike or tandem bike; riding is fun. I have fond memories of my nine-year-old self, whizzing through my neighborhood on my sparkling hot pink Huffy with the banana seat and flowered basket. Millions of people in the U.S. ride bicycles for fun, sport, exercise and transportation. It’s environmentally friendly, has a better view and keeps you fit. When we take time to slow down the pace of our busy lives, we step on the peddles of a bike. Old 96 District offers bike trail for riders from eight to eighty, beginner to expert; as well as six state parks that offer numerous miles of trails.
For the mountain bike enthusiast, Forks Area Trail System(“FATS”) in Sumter National Forest has six trails covering 37 miles. Mountain bikers love these trails because of its’ great flow and fast terrain. It’s rugged in places, which is great for jumps. The trails are good for beginners because there is not a lot of climbing. Experts love it because the terrain is fast so they can test their cornering. Parson’s Mountain Recreation Area is a great trail for an intermediate cyclist. This trail is a four-mile loop around Parson’s Mountain Lake. You will cross woods filled with sparkleberry, redbud, wild ginger and dogwood trees.
Also in Sumter National Forest, Long Cane Horse Trail dives into the woods and traverses a rich and rolling forest of oak, pine, and hickory. It is considered moderately difficult, and since you ride mostly on forest floor with pine needles over red clay, finding your way near the end can prove challenging. The varied terrain includes many dips and climbs, plus abundant creek crossings. Among the more interesting points along the way are the original Charleston Road, built in 1825, and for many years a throughway for stagecoach service. At one point, the trail enters the Long Cane Scenic Area. Protected from logging and left largely untouched, this area is a reminder of how all of the forest must have once looked.For a gentler ride, try Ten Governors Trail. It’s a mile-long paved path that’s fairly straight until you curve towards Slade Lake. There’s also a scenic wooden bridge to cross. In addition to enjoying nature on this ride, you will acquaint yourself with ten of Edgefield’s favorite sons, including Strom Thurmond, whose memorial is on the trail.
Savannah Valley Railroad Trail in McCormick is a nine-mile trail. It leads you through the serene Piedmont forest as well as historic sites such as Badwell Cemetery. This former railroad bed is hard packed, making it ideal for fat-tire bicycles.
Baker Creek State Park Mountain Bike Trail is a medium to strenuous, rolling, two loop dirt trail. You will pass through various habitats of oak and pine woods where some very large trees can be seen. Ride past lush creek-side vegetation, and a variety of birds and other wildlife. Although, not especially technical or strenuous for mountain bikes, the roads provide access around some of the more strenuous sections.
Hickory Knob Resort State Park has several biking trails for every level of cyclist. Beaver Run Trail is the gentlest of the park’s trails. This scenic two mile trail winds around Lake Thurmond. The trail surrounds you in the beauty of Carolina’s Piedmont. Lakeview Trail is a scenic and challengingly rugged, dirt loop-trail. This terrain is optimal for mountain bikers with its rocks and steep slopes. You will traverse an amazing variety of habitats including cedar and hardwood ridges, young oak woods, towering pine stands, and open grassy inlets. Your ride will take you to peaceful high points overlooking beautiful lake vistas, and quiet, sandy, back coves along the lake shore. Watch for birds, deer, and other wildlife. Turkey Ridge Trail is a single track, 1.7-mile dirt loop. It has some moderately steep hills, steams and sharp curves. Bike this oak-hickory forest is a moderately technical challenge.
Riding a bike is a simple pleasure made more enjoyable in the Old 96 District. Natural beauty, historic sites and challenging terrain make the various trails in the Old 96 District some of the most challenging and pleasurable in South Carolina. Click on the Visitor Info tab to request your free Hiking & Biking guide.