Pinckney Island Trail Running

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About

Summary

The island is home to one main trail that runs down the length of the island, and gives the opportunity for bikers, runners, and hikers to share the road. There are several tangential trails that begin from different points along the the main gravel path.

Written by

Logan Waddell

Distance

14.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

4.9 miles

Difficulty

2 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

3 hours

Seasonality

All Seasons

Dog Friendly

No

Fees Permits

No

Review

Intro

Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1975 after serving as a privately owned game preserve. Pinckney Island is actually the largest of a few islands that make up the wildlife refuge. It is also the only one accessible to trail runners and hikers. The islands surrounding Pinckney are Corn Island, Big and Little Harry Islands, Buzzard Island, as well as a multitude of smaller islands. The island’s recorded history dates back to the 1800’s. Major General Charles Cotesworth Pinckney established a plantation on the island, and called it home while he served as a lawyer and politician in South Carolina. Today very little remains of Pinckney’s plantation, though you can see traces of it on the site where it was built.

What Makes It Great

The island is home to one main trail that runs down the length of the island, and gives the opportunity for bikers, runners, and hikers to share the road. There are several tangential trails that begin from different points along the the main gravel path. These trails are all grass, and kept in fairly good condition. It’s important to remember that this place is overflowing with alligators, so if the grass is tall, you’re near a pond, or you hear something very large coming toward you but you can’t see it, climb a tree.

In all seriousness, avoid places on the island that look like there might be alligators. Avoid tall grass around ponds, of which there are 6 fairly large ones, and keep a close eye out for children that are hiking or riding with you. The grass trails that lead you toward the east will take you to Bull Point, and Shell Point, both look out over the intracoastal waterway. The grass trails leading you west will lead you along Mackay Creek, and provide opportunities to see Big Harry Island. There is a total of 14 miles of trails to hike, run, or ride. To navigate your way around the island, it’s best to pick up a map on your way from the parking area to the trail.

Who is Going to Love It

Trail runners interested looking for a mix of scenery and wildlife. The trails on the island are not all connected, which can be frustrating, though each trail delivers a unique experience and is most certainly worth exploring. The island is home to beach, marsh, hardwood forest, and pine forest, with freshwater ponds scattered throughout and all kinds of marine wildlife. We’ve already discussed the alligator situation, but also be on the lookout for turtles, hundreds of different species of waterfowl, white tail deer, and armadillos.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

The most important thing you can bring to Pinckney Island is protection from gnats and mosquitos. Unless you’re running or riding non-stop, you will be eaten alive by these little monsters. Bring your favorite bug spray, or go with long sleeves and a mosquito head net. Parking is available in a lot on the south end of the island, an easy walk to the trails. Pinckney Island itself is only a half mile away from Hilton Head Island, just off of Highway 278, and an outstanding day trip for visitors to the area.

Location

Pinckney Island

Hilton Head Island, SC, 29926
32.2438, -80.7652

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