THE RAIL TRAIL


If you feel like exploring off-island, on foot or by bike, head for one of our favorite outdoor venues, the West Ashley Greenway, a ten-mile former railroad bed created by the city of Charleston and opened to the public more than a decade ago. Running between Folly Road to the east and Main Road to the west, and paralleling Savannah Highway to the north, the Greenway has become a popular hiking and biking trail offering a varied landscape, from park-like suburbs on the eastern end, where the trail is mostly asphalt, to wild marsh and maritime forest to the west along hard dirt-packed ground.


During your walk or ride, you'll cross former dairy land once owned by Coburg Dairies (the famous Coburg Cow on Savannah Highway is all that remains), former farms that once provided Charleston tables with fresh produce, and tributaries and creeks of the Stono River that still teem with fish and bird life, making the trail a favorite destination for birdwatchers, especially during migration seasons.

There's older history here, too. The Greenway follows an old rail bed first laid down in the 1830's, at the dawn of the steam locomotive era, to carry produce and passengers between Charleston and Savannah. Later, it was a crucial supply line for Confederate forces guarding the western and southern approaches to

The train to Savannah, c.1895

the city and a prime target for Union bombardments. The rail line was reconstructed after the war but fell into disuse by the mid-twentieth century (a newer track along Savannah Highway still carries freight between Charleston and Savannah) and was eventually acquired by the city when the Rails To Trails movement gained national momentum.


The western end of the trail ends at Main Road near the Limehouse Bridge, but don't head home just yet. Across Main Road is the entrance to Stono River County Park, opened just last year, with a looped trail across the marshes to the banks of the river, affording a unique view of the bridge and river traffic. Enjoy the view!

The Limehouse Bridge, from Stono River County Park


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