Beaufort News

Popular Beaufort Co. recreational trail extended north. Here’s what’s next

A recently completed half-mile section of a popular biking and walking trail in northern Beaufort County means the path now connects users from Port Royal to beyond Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.

Supporters will next work to connect the Spanish Moss Trail to downtown Beaufort and Port Royal.

The newly paved section of the trail, 0.6 mile, runs from Poppy Hill Road to Clarendon Road and had remain unpaved while the military base and local landowners of Clarendon Plantation worked out a deal, the Friends of the Spanish Moss Trail said in a release. The 12-foot wide concrete path now extends along a former railroad bed from Port Royal north of Ribaut Road to the Seabrook area and allows users an unimpeded 20-mile round trip.

“The owners of Clarendon have been very generous to our community allowing the Spanish Moss Trail to run through their property for the enjoyment of the more than 40,000 people who are using the trail each year,” executive director Dean Moss said. “The newly paved section has been an important priority for the Friends, as we know there has been strong public demand for its completion.”

Moss has been working with city of Beaufort officials to devise a route to connect the path to downtown. A proposed route includes extending the trail along Depot Road and along part of Bay Street to Bladen Street.

But the details are yet to be worked out.

Plans also call for the trail to extend south along Port Royal’s waterfront to shops and dining and Sands Beach. The link would require a special traffic signal on Ribaut Road to allow bicyclists and pedestrians to cross the busy four-lane road.

A similar signal directs users across Robert Smalls Parkway in Beaufort.

Joe DeVito, the Spanish Moss Trail’s board president who is running for mayor, said at a recent candidate forum that completing the trail in Port Royal is a top priority.

“We have been poised and ready to come across Ribaut Road once the (port) developers are ready,” he said. “If everything goes the way it could go, we could see construction start in 12 months.”

Stephen Fastenau covers northern Beaufort County as a reporter for The Beaufort Gazette and The Island Packet, where he has worked since 2010 and been recognized with state and national awards. He studied journalism and political science at the University of South Carolina in Columbia and lives in Beaufort.
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