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Birds, Beaches, and Bike Trails – Cycling on Jekyll Island

Spanish Moss Bike Trail - Jekyll Island

Cycling in the Oaks

Whether riding beneath the Spanish Moss-draped oaks, peddling alongside the sandy beach, or pulling up to Horton Pond to try to catch a glimpse of an alligator, you'll find plenty of natural beauty as you tour the island. Cycling is a great way to see the island's sights while you get some exercise. If you can manage it, bring along your cell phone or other camera. It's easy to stop and snap a photo of heron feeding in the marsh, a beautiful sunset, or whatever strikes your fancy.

People of all skill levels and ages bike on Jekyll. If you want to push yourself at a high speed, you'll probably want to ride on the road to avoid the slowdowns that come from the congestion and curves of the paths. For everyone else, Jekyll's big network of bike paths is the way to go. And if you skip the paths, you'll miss such sights as the marsh.

Bike Trails - Circling the Island

A loop around the island using the bike paths is about 17 miles. Cross-island paths along Captain Wylly Road, Shell Road, and Ben Fortson Parkway on the north end of the island and connecting paths through the forest on the south end provide some variety and a good way to vary the length of your ride.

Click "See details" under any leg to a description of that leg.

Cycling to the Marsh

Jekyll Sandpiper Cottage is in a neighborhood just north of the Holiday Inn called The Lanes. The bike path here runs along the east side of Beachview Drive. Pedaling north takes you from The Lanes, past The Cottages, The Villas, and the entrance to Driftwood Beach. You might want to take a detour when you reach the Driftwood Bistro entrance to The Villas. If you cross Beachview there and follow the road west from Beachview, you'll quickly come to Horton Pond. From the wooden viewing area, you're certain to see turtles swimming in the pond, and you might see an alligator or two sunning themselves on the platform in the middle of the pond.

If you continue north on the bike path from The Villas, you'll pass a parking area for Driftwood Beach, though there aren't any signs marking this spot. Soon you'll have an opportunity to turn right on a paved path by a little wooden fence. You can continue straight toward the campground, but if you turn right and then turn left when the path allows, you'll follow a scenic path through the marsh.

Through the Marsh

The marsh path is a great place to see shore birds feeding and resting in the trees. Some birds we've seen include cranes, various kinds of egrets and other herons, and sometimes Roseate Spoonbills. The trail can be a bit rough from tree roots, but it's well worth it. Riding through at low tide can increase your chances of seeing birds trolling the water for food. And if conditions permit, you can get great sunset views in the evening. As of early 2018, two bridges at the southern end of the path are impassable from storm damage, but if it's close to low tide, you can easily walk your bike around them through the marsh without getting wet.

At the northern end of the path, you'll take a sharp left, cross a bridge where you'll frequently find fishermen, and arrive at the Jekyll Pier. If you saw X-Men: First Class, you might recognize this spot. As you follow Clam Creek Road away from the pier, you'll pass by stately oaks with Spanish Moss. And on your right you'll eventually see a paddock that might contain some horses. If you want to go horseback riding on the beach, here's the place to start.

Clam Creek Road ends at the Jekyll Campground, at the intersection where Beachview turns into Riverview. Following the bike path along Beachview to the left will take you back to The Lanes. Turn right on the path to follow Riverview.

Jekyll Campground to Horton House
Wind your way north under another oaken canopy, and you'll follow the Jekyll River. Soon you'll come to the ruins of Horton House on your left. Directly to the right, you'll see the associated family cemetery on your right. Horton also brewed Georgia's first beer at this site, and the Jekyll Island Brewery, north of Atlanta, named itself in recognition of this fact.

Horton House to the Historic District
Continue cycling north from Horton House along a generally windy, wooded stretch of trail until you eventually reach the small airport on your right. While you're paralleling the airport, the trail will suddenly turn left to take you across Riverview for a short time before crossing back. So watch for traffic. Very soon after you pass the end of the airport, you'll have an opportunity to veer right or turn left. Keep to the right to continue on to the Historic District.

Turning left will take you on the path that follows Captain Wylly. That path passes the golf courses and tennis courts before ending at Beachview near the southern end of the Holiday Inn.

Historic District
Once you reach the Historic District, you might want to ride through it to see the Millionaire Cottages, browse some shops, buy some fudge at the Island Sweets Shoppe, or stop at the Club Hotel. Otherwise, turn right once you pass the gate across the path for a short ride along the water. That path will loop back to the main path, where you can turn right to continue past the southernmost Millionaire Cottages.

Alternatively, if you want to cut across the island, ride to the Jekyll Island Museum. at the eastern end of the Historic District's Pier Road. In front of the museum, you can find a bike path that will take you along Shell Road. Follow this path to reach Beachview at the Miniature Golf.

Three-Way Decision Point

After you leave the Historic District, you'll ride across a long, picturesque wooden bridge that spans a small marshy area. And then you'll reach a fork in the path.

Choice OneTurn right at the fork to take one of two routes to the Southern Leg. Take a left, when you can, to cross under the causeway and continue straight on a short but rough and gravely section. When it ends, turn left onto a paved stretch (Harbor Road). It will end at a T intersection, and you should turn left to stay on Harbor Road until it ends at Riverview. Turn right onto Riverview, and after another short ride, you'll see the bike path on your left. Turn left off of Riverview onto this path and follow it to your right along Riverview.

Choice Two Going left at the fork takes you to the Dairy Queen. If you use the path cross Ben Fortson Parkway at the Dairy Queen, it will take you into the woods on a path that eventually hits Riverview at the same place where Choice One above ends.

Choice Three Continue paralleling Ben Fortson Parkway at the Dairy Queen until you reach the traffic circle to skip the Southern Leg. Go straight across the roundabout into the Beach Village and, eventually, the water. At the water's edge you'll find the bike path, where you can turn left to resume your round trip.

Southern Leg

Follow the bike path south along Riverview until you need to turn left into the woods. Keep following this path, going straight when you come to an intersection. After a while, you'll exit the woods and be back along Riverview. The path eventually ends, at which point you should ride on Riverview itself until the path resumes at St. Andrews Picnic Area, where Riverview becomes Beachview. The path follows the left side of Beachview for a long stretch until it crosses Beachview, just north of the Days Inn and Suites. The path will take you quickly to the ocean, where it will veer left to continue north.

Beach Village to The Lanes
This last stretch provides great views of the beach and ocean. You'll pass the Convention Center and Great Dunes Pavilion. Next, to your left you could see the Miniature Golf at the corner of Shell and Beachview, where the Shell Road bike path joins. Continue along the ocean path to pass Tortuga Jacks, and after a while you'll come to the Holiday Inn, where the Captain Wylly bike path joins. Follow the path between the Holiday Inn and the ocean until you have to turn left to leave the ocean at the northern end of the hotel.

When you get to Beachview, turn right to stay on the bike path. At this point, you're at the southern end of The Lanes. Keep straight, and you'll very quickly complete your island round trip.

Acquiring a Bike

If you have your own bikes and have room to bring them, by all means do so. You'll be most comfortable with them. Otherwise, we have some,  basic bikes available for your use.

There are also two places you can rent bikes on the island: Beachside Bike Rentals at the Days Inn and Suites and Jekyll Wheels at the Club Hotel.

If you take a bike onto the beach, be sure to clean the chain of sand as best you can afterwards or the chain can quickly become unusable. We haven't rented bikes on the island ourselves, so if you want to ride on the beach, check if the rental company allows it.

#jekyll #jekyllisland #goldenisles #biking #jekyllsandpiper

One thought on “Birds, Beaches, and Bike Trails – Cycling on Jekyll Island

  • 03/04/2018 at 12:21 PM

    Love riding at the beach (though not on sand) as it is so flat! I hate hills. If you plan your ride right, you can use the wind to either help you or to give you a real work out! Riding at Jekyll is great with so many bike paths to explore! Thanks for the great post too! Good info to share next time we visit!


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