The Sawmill Branch Trail in Summerville, South Carolina, is a bike and walking trail that follows along side the old Sawmill Branch Canal.
The final section is now finished and runs from East Richardson Avenue in the North, close to the center of Downtown Summerville.
From that point there is now close to 7 miles of smooth paved bike path, about 12 or 15 feet wide that will take you to the South End of Old Trolley Road, near Dorchester Road.
Out and back on this trail will give you 14 miles of motor traffic free riding. Where the path crosses the busy Gahagan Rd, Old Trolley Rd, and Bacon’s Bridge Rd, in each case the path goes under a bridge, so there is no stopping or slowing.
The photo above shows the approach towards the North End of Old Trolley Road.
Here you have the option of going right under the busy four lane Old Trolley and on towards Richardson Ave. Or you can go straight and turn right on Old Trolley; there is a busy intersection at Bacon’s Bridge Rd., but there is a traffic light at this point.
Once past Bacon’s Bridge, Old Trolley Rd., has a bike lane its entire length. You can ride to the South End and turn right on Cross Creek Drive, and join up with the bike trail again. This makes about an 8 or 9 mile loop. (See map below.)
There are 4 different parking areas. My favorite is Luden Street, a quiet residential neighborhood. The trail switches from one side of the canal to the other at this point; don’t go straight across from the car park as the paved trail on that side runs out in about 200 yards.
The trail switches sides at another point just after you go under Old Trolley Road; again this is on a quiet street with little traffic.
A word of warning as you go under the bridges; earlier this summer, some vandals piled large rocks from the canal bank, across the path, under the Old Trolley Rd. Bridge. When you come out of the bright sunlight it is quite dark and hard to see.
An older man, a regular user of the path, hit these rocks, fell heavily, and was hospitalized as a result of his injuries. There was just this one incident and I have since seen the police patrolling the path from time to time.
Unfortunately, the local kids also love to break glass bottles on the path too, usually thrown from the bridges above.
Apart from these unfortunate but somewhat isolated incidents, I can highly recommend this trail.
Much of the trail is shaded by trees, which is great on a hot day. You will see Blue Herons and Egrets in the water.
There are warning signs saying “Alligators may live here.” But I haven’t seen any yet.
Here are some more photos.
(Above.) Egrets; one of the more common birds you will see on the trail