Riding Like a Swamp Fox: Biking Francis Marion N.F.

A cyclist explores the 47-mile Swamp Fox Passage in South Carolina.

It wasn’t love at first sight with the Swamp Fox Passage. The first time I stepped foot on the Palmetto Trail in Francis Marion National Forest, I was chased to my vehicle by a cloud of mosquitos. Half joined me inside for a slap-happy bloodletting—I mean getaway—along US-17.

“After the first frost,” suggested the attendant at Steed Creek Ranger Station. It was almost November, but a hot October had kept biting insects at summer levels.

Temps came down during the next month, but my wife and I had trips planned through December. We returned in January for a short day-ride on the adjacent Awendaw Passage. It’s a scenic bluff-top trail above a creek, which starts at the Intracoastal Waterway and ends seven miles later at the US-17 trailhead. The ride was mostly flat, muddy in spots, and semi-buggy, yet intriguingly scenic through matchstick pine forest and blackwater wetlands. This convinced me to give the 47-mile Swamp Fox Passage another try.

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