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Round mileage markers point the way along the 5-mile Biggin Creek Bike Trail.
Round mileage markers point the way along the 5-mile Biggin Creek Bike Trail.

Bikin’ At Biggin Creek: Mountain Biking
Lowcountry Style

The light from the clear, November morning’s sun shone brightly on the brown, grassy field. People gathered and enthusiastically unloaded their specialized two-wheeled vehicles off of larger cars and trucks.

A trendy food truck positioned itself at the edge of the forest near the entrance to the focal point of the day’s festivities as children milled about. Food and libations were on tap for those who would be wearied by the awaiting woods.

Such was the scene at the Nov. 4 dedication of the Biggin Creek Bike Trail, a biking and hiking opportunity that has high appeal to mountain bike enthusiasts. The trail parallels the Tailrace Canal area on the northeastern boundary of Moncks Corner.

The 5-mile, undulating trail sits on Santee Cooper property, adjacent to the headquarters, and was made possible through a partnership between the town of Moncks Corner and Santee Cooper.

On hand for the dedication were Moncks Corner Mayor Michael Lockliear and other town officials. The town’s website states the trail largely became a reality due to “the support of its many volunteers who work to improve and maintain the trail and Mr. Lloyd ‘Rusty’ Smith, whose vision and hard work built this trail.”

Smith is a biker and Santee Cooper employee in the waste management area. He and fellow riding enthusiast Russell Worrell, who works at Cross Generating Station, were on hand for the dedication.

“I think this is a good asset for the town and Berkeley County,” said Worrell, a unit operator at Cross. “It’s a tourist attraction for sure. The trail’s a fun ride. If you’re fit and knowledgeable and you watch where you’re going, you can tackle it if you take your time. There are roots, hills and inclines, and that’s what makes mountain biking challenging.”

Rusty and Deneene
Rusty Smith, a financial analyst at Santee Cooper who was involved in the Biggin Creek Bike Trail’s construction, and Santee Cooper Land Agent III Deneene Guerry pose by the trail’s entrance after the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Nov. 4.

For those who planned the trail for years, last fall’s opening represented the culmination of a dream that has finally become a reality.

“I am so glad the bike trail is now open to the public,” said Brian Holmes, who headed Santee Cooper’s property management department when the trail was being planned and constructed. “I bike myself and it’s always a positive thing when something like this comes together. Rusty Smith designed and built the trail. He has done 99 percent of the work on it. The ‘Jones tract,’ as this property is referred to, has very unusual topography for the Lowcountry. There are several  short, but very steep bluffs.”

“We’re very excited,” said Mayor Lockliear.   “We hope it brings a lot of bikers into town and we can show off our community.”

The mayor credited the town’s partnership with Santee Cooper for making Moncks Corner’s newest recreational amenity a reality.

“Santee Cooper has been a very good steward with the town and we value our relationship,” said Lockliear. This view was echoed by Mayor Pro Tem David Dennis.

“They have always been such a big partner with us,” Dennis said. “They do things that they really don’t have to do, but they do it. They help Moncks Corner be a better place. We thank them for allowing us to use a part of their property for this. It will attract a different group of people who probably haven’t come to Moncks Corner before now.”

The trailhead and parking area are located in the field off Rembert Dennis Boulevard, just north of the Riverwood Drive entrance at  Santee Cooper’s Moncks Corner headquarters, and nearly opposite Epson Plantation Drive.

As the Lowcountry population in general and Berkeley County in particular continues to swell, new residents are attracted to outdoor opportunities such as a biking and hiking trail. Dennis said that the trail serves to accentuate what is already here.

“We have the Tailrace Canal, Lake Moultrie, the Berkeley Blueways canoe and kayak trail, the river and now this trail,” said Dennis. Lockliear and Dennis believe the new addition will help ecotourism expand in and around Moncks Corner, a benefit to the area’s lodging and restaurant offerings.

“A huge part of the appeal of Moncks Corner and Berkeley County’s economic activity involves ecotourism,” said Holmes. “The Biggin Creek trail provides a different kind of outdoor recreation activity that is enhancing the quality of life for local residents and bringing visitors to this part of the Lowcountry.”

Holmes said if you haven’t tried mountain biking, it’s a great way to get in touch with nature and the people you meet allows you to expand those horizons.

“Mountain biking is a fantastic workout and, although it’s very physically demanding, the excitement and focus involved makes it much more fun than typical exercise activities,” said Holmes. “Plus, it’s in the woods, and in my opinion, playing outside is good for the mind and body. Mountain bikers are also very friendly and social, so it’s a great way to meet new people.”

The trail’s opening is further evidence of the diversity of outdoor offerings found in the lands around lakes Moultrie and Marion, the Santee Cooper Lakes.

Collectively, these two man-made bodies of water are South Carolina’s largest freshwater resource, and last year turned 75 years old. For decades, the lakes were about fishing, particularly striped bass fishing. Then, record-setting Arkansas blue catfish became the clarion call for anglers far and wide.

Then there’s the hearty lake-area golfing community, Old Santee Canal Park, Santee National Wildlife Refuge, Overton Beach Park and the numerous boat landings, marinas and fish camps that combine to make the five-county region an outdoor enthusiasts’ mecca. 

Autumn in the Lowcountry offers a welcoming backdrop for an afternoon ride.
Autumn in the Lowcountry offers a welcoming backdrop for an afternoon ride.

These outdoor pursuits definitely have a measurable mark on the area. According to the most recent study by the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, the annual economic impact of the Santee Cooper Lakes is approximately $415 million. This represents a payroll of $69.56 million, totaling 3,750 jobs and $43.03 million in tax revenues.

For Mary Shriner, executive director of the Santee Cooper Counties Promotion Commission, the Biggin Creek Bike Trail is another activity to promote from her headquarters in the town of Santee.

“Any time you can market a different and new type of recreational opportunity for the public, that just makes my job easier,” said Shriner. “If you’ve got only a few things to offer, it can put you at a disadvantage. The Santee Cooper Lakes and surrounding area these days are about much more than fishing and boating.”

 To view the Biggin Creek Bike Trail video, go to SanteeCooperTV on YouTube.