Bike tour offers inside look at Parris Island history

pdonohue@beaufortgazette.comApril 12, 2012 

Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island will open its gates Saturday to pedestrians and bikers interested in exploring the base's storied past.

For the fourth year, the Parris Island Historical and Museum Society is sponsoring the Iron Mike Bike Tour, a 15-mile, self-guided bicycle trip around Parris Island. The free biannual event is named after the depot's famous gun-toting statue.

From 9 a.m. to noon, cyclists will start at the Parris Island Museum and travel to more than 16 sites marking the depot's colonial, plantation and military past.

Landmarks include the site of 16th-century French and Spanish settlements and the now-defunct Page Field where Marines trained to fly fighter planes, dive bombers, gliders and balloons during World War II, according to museum staff.

The museum also is offering a 3-mile walking tour of some of the base's military sites. It also begins at 9 a.m.

To guide the way, cyclists and pedestrians will be given maps of the route, which also will be marked by signs directing riders to various stations and landmarks where volunteers -- some wearing period costumes and military uniforms -- will explain the sites' historical significance.

Participants can go to as many of the listed sites as they want, according to museum staff.

Pedestrians and cyclists should bring water and bug spray to fend off the island's infamous sand gnats.

A driver's license, registration and proof of insurance are required to get on base.

Base policy also requires cyclists to wear helmets and follow traffic rules. Cyclists who do not wear a helmet will not be allowed to participate in the bike tour, according to museum officials.

For more information on the Parris Island Museum, visit

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