Running Beaufort's Spanish Moss Trail
By Shannon Roberts | Beaufort loves its 5K races. Its seems as though there’s at least one each month somewhere in town. For those of you training for a 5k race, we are lucky to have a great training route right in the middle of beautiful Beaufort.
The Spanish Moss Trail.
The Spanish Moss Trail, a picturesque piece of flat concrete that was built for runners, walkers and bikers, is just a short drive from anywhere in Beaufort. The Trail is constructed on top of the old, historic Magnolia Rail Line as a rails to trails greenway project to eventually connect the towns of Port Royal, Beaufort, Burton, and Grays Hill.
The trail’s history as a rail line is immediately obvious as you pull up to the Depot Road trail head. A fascinating old rail building stands at the entrance of the trail, complete with it’s grand doors and arching entryways.
For a fantastic 5k training run, park at the Depot Road Trailhead and head towards the old rail building. Continue past the building, crossing Hermitage Road. Upon crossing the road, you will see the remains of the old Pickle Factory on your right. The building had once been prepped for loft-style upscale apartments, however remains undeveloped. Continuing past the Pickle Factory, the trail’s vistas open up as the refreshing salt breeze stirs off the water. Looking right, you will be gazing across marsh grasses, oyster habitat, and an expanse of Battery Creek. Rabbit Island rises out of the water just a short distance away. At the next street crossing, Allison Road, you will be nearing the one mile mark.
After crossing Allison Road, the next mile marker sign you see will indicate that you have made it one mile from your departure point at Depot Road. Celebrate the accomplishment, and keep moving. The next road you will come to is Rogers Drive, where the trail opens up again. You will see two benches facing the water on this stretch. For a perfect 3.1 mile run, turn around at the second bench and head back to the Depot Road trailhead. To stretch your run out a bit, run to the next road and trailhead, Broome Lane, to turn around and you will have a nice 3.5 mile run in the books.
On your way back to Depot Road, pay attention to the wildlife around you. Muddy raccoon tracks are often seen on the trail where they cross between waterways. Bird life is abundant here. A Great Horned owl has made his home on the section of trail between Rogers Drive and Broome Lane. Take your headphones out and listen for him.
Wading birds are seen in the pluff mud on either side of the trail: ibises, great herons, snowy egrets and great egrets will be fishing the shallows. In the fall and winter, migratory birds will be in the water: Merganser ducks and cormorants are often diving underwater around the bridge along Battery Creek.
Once you see the Pickle Factory again on your left, you have .25 to go. Pick up the pace and finish strong.
There are many reasons to love the Spanish Moss Trail. Because it is a safe, off-the-road concrete path, you can safely run with your dog (on leash), with your kids on bikes, and with a group without dodging cars or being squeezed onto a narrow and bumpy sidewalk. The trail is quiet, and views are truly stunning at any hour of the day.
From the trail you can observe what makes the Lowcountry so special: our marshes and waters teeming with fish and birdlife, as well as the F/A 18 Hornets and the new F-35s screaming their sound of freedom overhead out of the Marine Corp Air Station. If you listen closely, you can also hear Marines being made at Parris Island as they execute live fire practice in the mornings. Beaufort is alive and well, and the Spanish Moss Trail helps showcase the best of Beaufort in its own unique way.