Best Running Trails in Hilton Head

By Jayne Clark

For an island that’s just 12 miles long and five miles wide, Hilton Head not only has fabulous running terrain, but lots of variety to boot.  About 60 miles of public pathways and nature trails lace the island. In addition, 50-plus miles of roads and paths are in private community developments. Detailed maps are available at hiltonheadislandsc.gov/publications/maps/BikePathMap.pdf.

Here are some recommended running routes:

Hilton Head Island beach

The beach. The island’s 12 miles of shoreline is composed of hard-packed sand, making running (and even biking) a pleasure. Go out at low tide for a nice, wide swath of territory.

Hilton Head leisure paths

Leisure paths. A network of pathways crisscross Hilton Head, making it possible to take in the entire island by foot. You can pick up a map at kiosks along the way.

Sea Pines Forest Preserve

The Sea Pines Forest Preserve. Located within the 5,000-acre Sea Pines Resort area, this 605-acre preserve is the largest tract of undeveloped land on Hilton Head.  A boardwalk traverses marshes and swamps. It’s accessible from sunrise to sunset.

Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort

Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort. Explore this 2,000-acre multi-use development via a network of paved trails that extend to the Shelter Cove Harbor and Marina.

Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort

Cross Island Parkway Bridge. The main access point onto the island enables great views of marinas, sailboats and high-end real estate.  An annual 5K and 10K Bridge Run is held in the fall.

Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge

Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge. Located just over the Hilton Head Island bridge, this pristine, uninhabited 4,053-acre refuge sports 10 miles of trails. Nine round-trip routes ranging from 1.2 miles to 7.8 miles cut through saltmarsh and forestland. You can pick up a trail map at the entrance.

Jarvis Creek Park

Jarvis Creek Park. This pleasant, 53-acre town park in the middle of the island has paved trails and boardwalks traversing marshy areas to keep your running shoes dry. A 1.1-mile loop takes in the lake. Keep an eye out for alligators. If you want more exercise, there’s a nine-station outdoor training area.

Pack your running shoes and find the perfect Hilton Head rental for your running getaway.

Washington, DC-based freelance travel writer Jayne Clark has been a travel reporter at USA TODAY and several other daily newspapers.