Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Biking South Carolina's Killer Three Mountain Bike Trail

South Carolina's Manchester State Forest is located in mid-state South Carolina near Sumter. The Killer Three Bike Trail is 10.2 miles in length and traverses varied terrain, with many turns and a number of elevation changes. A daily trail permit cost $5 in 2003, with annual passes also available. Trail maps are available at the trailheads.

The trail is rolling hills with a sandy base and many creeks. With the sand base, the leaves, and pine straw, the climbs, though gentle, can be a workout. In the spring you'll be greeted by azalea, dogwood, and magnolia, and if you're fortunate, you might see the native deer, red fox, and wild turkey.

The forest is gradually being cut of its Slash Pine and the native Long Leaf Pine (as seen above to left of trail) is being planted in its place.

A number of sandy areas exist on the trail, so care must be taken on curves and downgrades. Only hikers and bikers are allowed on the K3 trail, which is fortunate because a section of the Palmetto Trail also travels through this forest, but it is used by horse traffic and is so torn up that I found it unsuitable for bikes.

This loop was built by the local club after Hurricane Hugo hit in 1989. The course is used for races early each year, and the tight single track is fairly technical with some sharp diagonal turns that challenge novice users.

The trail is very scenic singletrack, and the local club that maintains it has installed mile markers and its members show their personalities with a variety of clever names like "chainbreak hill" and "boneyard" and plastic creatures placed at turns and climbs and obstacles. Signs mark several alternate sections which are more challenging. The trail is well marked with directional signs and maps are available at the trailhead.

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