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Trade Secret

Trade Secret
July 2010
When temperatures climb high, opt for low-impact ambling along the little-known Patriots Point Trail

Part of me wants to keep secret spaces secret, but my grandmother always says to give away what I love, so I’m entrusting fellow ramblers with one of my best-kept. Over in Omar Shrine Temple land, just before the Patriots Point ball fields, a little-known path meets the road. Park in its tiny slip of a lot, and the trail—0.8 miles tip to tail—welcomes you into a verdant, cool cocoon lit by dappled sunlight that spills down when breezes stir the canopy overhead. It wends behind a series of high-octane sports fields, but the dense flora muffles kids hollering and bats and balls cracking and refs whistling—it reminds me of being a girl, sneaking between hedges and garden walls like a little rabbit, thrilled to eavesdrop on folks nearby but ecstatic about my invisibility. Other bonuses: The path is well-manicured and covered in pea gravel, so both my sweetheart in his loafers and my mom with her bum leg have navigated it with ease. And when I go it alone, the sporty types just a yell away keep it from being creepy. 

One-story observation decks with benches and railings crop up all along the way. Ostensibly for bird watching—the area’s on the migration route for seabirds, buntings, and more in spring and fall—the forts make cool rest stops and picnic platforms. But my favorite place to park it is at the trail’s ocean end. This last stretch curls around a swampy area, where I’ve seen rabbits scoot past and turtles play slip and slide when my pup tears by. Just beyond a little learning area (it looks like a scout camp classroom with rough-hewn benches), the trail leads up a ramp to a final lookout platform that offers a killer view of Crab Bank, Shem Creek, Castle Pinckney, and the harbor. If I’ve got my Wellies on, I’ll slosh through the marsh to the waterline to scavenge bleached oyster shells for garlands. 

To cobble together a world-class ramble, some day I’ll pair the trail with the Charleston Water Taxi, as the latter stops off at the nearby Charleston Harbor Marina, just a scoot away from the path’s entrance. The taxi is bike friendly, dog friendly, and just plain friendly all around, and it offers a cheap way to cruise the harbor, so it’d be super to string the two trips together. Plus, the combo would help me play outside during our hot-as-Hades months—think chilling on the water (read: breezy) and hiking a covered trail (read: shaded). Add a good dousing of bug spray, and it’s a secret slice of Lowcountry heaven.

For a trail map and details, visit
Charleston Water Taxi: Charleston Maritime Center, 10 Wharfside St.
Charleston Harbor Marina, 20 Patriots Point Rd., Mount Pleasant.
Daily, 10 a.m.- 6:30 p.m., hourly departures. $8 round-trip; $5 one-way; free for child under six.
(843) 330-2989,