Hilton Head is a resort town on an island in South Carolina, 20 miles from Savannah and 95 miles from Charleston. With 12 miles of beachfront and two dozen golf courses, it is a popular vacation spot, attracting some 2.5 million visitors annually. The island has an interesting history: seasonally occupied by Native Americans thousands of years ago, site of several small plantations, and base for a Union blockade during the Civil War. Current “native islanders”, are descendants of freed slaves known as the Gullah, who settled on the island after the Civil War. Today, the island is mainly a vacation destination, where 70% of the tourists stay in some form of ‘gated community’.
There are some great places to run in Hilton Head and area. The highlight is the 12 miles of continuous beach, which is very wide in spots and features firm, packed sand for most of the day and much of the day. Other great running spots are a loop incorporating the Cross Island Parkway Bridge, paths in Sea Forest Pines Preserve, and 14 miles of trails on Pinckney Island. Note that there are some 50 miles of bike paths on Hilton Head, and covering most of the major roads.
There are also some great spots for running near Hilton Head. We’ve developed routes for Pinckney Island, Palmetto Bluff, the lovely city of Beaufort, and Hunting Island.
Note: Hilton Head Island is a beautiful place, but navigating it can be confusing. While many areas are free and open to the public, they can still be hard to find because of how the Island is set up. Much of Hilton Head is segmented into gated communities, also known as plantations. While some of them are private residential communities for people who live on the island year-round, there are others with resorts, golf courses, businesses and places to visit that are open to visitors — especially Sea Pines, Palmetto Dunes, and Wexford.