New bike group pushing for trails in Beaufort area. Not in this park, county says

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Members of a new group that’s pushing for more mountain bike trails in the Beaufort area say a Beaufort County-owned passive park on Lady’s Island would be ideal — but the county doesn’t think so.

“We’re just trying to get the county interested,” says Joe Mac, owner of University Bikes on Beaufort’s Boundary Street and a member of Beaufort Trailblazers.

The request comes as Beaufort County prepares to launch a major study of its recreational facilities and gather ideas from the public. But at this time, the county says, it has no plans for mountain bike trails in passive parks such as Pineview Preserve, which Beaufort Trailblazers favors for the bike trails.

Beaufort Trailblazers has collected 100 signatures supporting a singletrack mountain bike trail at Pineview. The off-road Singletracks, which are 2 to 6 feet wide, are less invasive to the environment and wildlife and do not require a mountain of dirt, Mac says.

Mac would like to see a local mountain bike trail system similar to the well designed and popular Whitemarsh Preserve in Savannah. That 145-acre park features 6 miles of singletrack trails.

Whitemarsh, Mac says, is extremely popular with hikers, runners and cyclists.

“If you build it,” Mac says, “they’ll come.”

Joe Mac, owner of University Bikes in Beaufort, has formed a new mountain biking group whose aim is to see mountain bike trails built in Beaufort County. “If they built it, they’ll come,” Mac says.
Joe Mac, owner of University Bikes in Beaufort, has formed a new mountain biking group whose aim is to see mountain bike trails built in Beaufort County. “If they built it, they’ll come,” Mac says.

Pineview Preserve is 108 acres between Sam’s Point Road and Rock Springs Creek. Beaufort County purchased Pineview in 2020 for $2.98 million, using funds from the Rural and Critical Lands Program that preserves lands with taxpayer funds. At the time, officials touted the land as a place for kayaking, hiking and horseback riding.

Beaufort County is about to launch a recreation needs study, and public meetings to get ideas from the public are planned for the first week of March, said Chris Ophardt, a county spokesman.

Mountain biking is allowed in passive parks, such as Pineview, except for Widgeon Point Preserve, but the county won’t build improved trails in a passive park, Ophardt said.

However, Ophardt said, a mountain bike track and built-up trail is one of the projects under consideration for an active park, which are more developed than passive parks.

A 2020 Forbes story said mountain bike trail counts across the United States showed increases of 100% to over 500% compared with the same time in 2019, with bike manufacturers seeing a surge in sales. It cited the pandemic for the surge of interest in connecting with local trails.

“The month of April in 2020, I will never see monthly sales like that again,” Mac said. “I almost sold a brand new bike every single day.”

Mac says mountain biking is a fast-growing sport, and one of the top five most popular outdoor activities.

Building trails, he adds, would capitalize on the popularity surge in mountain biking.

Pineview Preserve is 110 acres of upland and wetland forests with scattered freshwater depression marshes. It is located off Sams Point Road on Lady’s Island, adjacent to Rock Springs Creek. A Beaufort mountain biking group would like the county to consider a mountain bike trail here.
Pineview Preserve is 110 acres of upland and wetland forests with scattered freshwater depression marshes. It is located off Sams Point Road on Lady’s Island, adjacent to Rock Springs Creek. A Beaufort mountain biking group would like the county to consider a mountain bike trail here.

Beaufort Trailsblazers wants a professional trail builder to plan the installation of singletrack mountain bike trails at Pineview. Group members say they would volunteer labor to maintain it.

Bike trails in the area are located at Hunting Island State Park, Pinckney Island National Wildlife and on Hilton Head Island. But options are limited, says Shannon Butler, another member of Beaufort Trailblazers.

“My kids enjoy singletrack trails,” Butler says. “We have to go out of town.”

Many South Carolina towns have more than one mountain bike trail location, Butler said.

The South Carolina Interscholastic Cycling League was founded in 2018 as a nonprofit to help with the development of high school and middle school teams/clubs for grades 6-12, he noted.

Kids, Mac says, need “more than just staring at leaves.” At the same time, he adds, it is not uncommon to see people over 70 out mountain biking.

“Mountain biking is a thrill,” says Mac, adding that a mountain bike trail also allows people to run and hike in nature. “It’s good exercise. It’s good for you.”

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