Cathedral Aisle Trail

South Carolina

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Cathedral Aisle Trail Facts

States: South Carolina
Counties: Aiken
Length: 0.8 miles
Trail end points: Dibble Rd SW/SR 225 (near Whitney Dr Bridal Path) and Hitchcock Woods Trail System (Aiken)
Trail surfaces: Dirt, Sand
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6031376

Cathedral Aisle Trail Description

The Cathedral Aisle Trail is part of a 65-mile network within Aiken's protected Hitchcock Woods. Open since September 1939, this lush forest path is among the nation's oldest rail-trails. Though it runs just 0.8 mile, the route is a must-see for its railroading past alone.

The South Carolina Railroad & Canal Company built the corridor in 1835 as part of its Hamburg-Charleston route. At the time, the 136-mile line was the world's longest and the domain of a steam locomotive named the Best Friend of Charleston. In the late 1800s, Lulie and Thomas Hitchcock purchased the land surrounding the then-abandoned tracks for a hunting preserve.

The Hitchcocks eventually set aside 1,200 acres for recreational purposes on condition the area never be sold to a private individual or firm. Today, through the support of donors and volunteers, the Hitchcock Foundation manages more than 2,000 acres of mature forest, ponds, streams and wetlands. At its heart is the Cathedral Aisle rail-trail.

Cyclists are barred from the trail network, though most bikes would bog down in the soft sand anyway. You will find meandering hikers, joggers and equestrians. You may even encounter a horse-drawn carriage on the Cathedral Aisle or connecting trails. Pick up a map at the trailhead information kiosk.

Parking and Trail Access

To reach the trailhead from Aiken, take US Highway 78/Richland Avenue west to Highway 118/Hitchcock Parkway. Head south on Hitchcock about 0.5 mile and turn left on Dibble Road. Follow Dibble just under 0.5 mile. Parking is available in a sandy lot on the right, opposite the power station.

Cathedral Aisle Trail Reviews

Hitchcock Woodd

If you are lucky enough to regularly ride a horse, you are indeed a lucky person. If you are a horse person and have an opportunity to ride in Hitchcock Woods then you are a rarified rider for sure. The beauty, peace, depth and rare expanse of Hitchcock Woods is a place that defies description. Whether you walk/run or ride the trails of Hitchcock Woods I doubt you will find many places that will surpass its beauty. Trails by the names such as Devils backbone, Cathedral Aisle, Swampy Cut loop, Mrs. Allen’s ride and Lovers Lane in itself will entice any adventurer to step into this fairytale forest. You won’t be disappointed. Hitchcock woods is a rare gem, a preserved urban forest thanks to the Hitchcock families’ fore-site to maintain an equestrian ‘play ground’ for future generations.

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