Wolf Rocks (Laurel Summit SP) & Helltown Brewing (Mt. Pleasant Taproom)

Rector, PA

Each Fall, J and I try to make time for a weekend leaf peeping trip in mid-October. We always try to plan it juuuuust right to see peak foliage. This year, life got a little crazy so we ended up sticking to a day trip. But there are plenty of incredible spots to see fall foliage in the area surrounding Pittsburgh! For this hike we drove out to Westmoreland County to do the very popular Wolf Rocks Trail. This trailhead is in Laurel Summit State Park and is very close to several other beautiful state parks, so you should definitely make a day of it!

THE HIKE: Wolf Rocks Trail & Bog Trail

Length: 5.25 miles
Elevation Gain: 270 ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Time: 2-2.5 hours
Trail use: hiking, leashed pets
Parking: Large lot with bathrooms and picnic tables
H&H: 5/5

I have a new goal of going to as many Pennsylvania State Parks as I can thanks to my trusty new PA Parks Passport from the Friends of PA Parks & Forests. It’s a nifty little book that has all the state parks and forests and you can get stamps when you visit them! Well a great place to start from Pittsburgh is the Laurel Mountain region. There’s a cluster of so many beautiful parks! For this hike, we started out in Laurel Summit State park, hiked into Forbes State Forest, then drove through Laurel Mountain and Linn Run State Parks. Four in one day?! But we’ll definitely be back to actually do some hiking in the latter two. Linn Run was absolutely gorgeous to drive through and I definitely want to come back and camp or stay in a cabin.

Okay, back to this hike. The trailhead for the Wolf Rocks trail is in Laurel Summit State Park, one of the smaller parks in the state. This area is best known for having access to this trail and the Spruce Flats Bog. Laurel Summit State Park encompasses 6-acres and offers a picnic area, a pavilion, and restrooms. We started our hike out in the morning, hoping to beat some of the crowds as this is a fairly popular hike. Be aware that Google Maps is only so good in this area so have an idea of where you are going first. Our app took us on a logging road to get to the trailhead for some reason, but there is a main road we should have taken. 

One of the great things about this park is that it is already over 2,000 ft above sea level and the parking ridge is up on the ridge. So unlike a lot of overlook hikes, you don’t actually have to do a lot of uphill climbing! The trail is a little rocky at times, but we encountered plenty of kids and elderly folks on the trail so it’s a good one for all ages! We loved hiking this during peak fall colors but it would also be beautiful in late spring because the beginning of the trail is surrounded by mountain laurels and rhododendrons. It would be magical to walk through them when they are in full bloom! 

As I mentioned, this is a pretty popular hike which was evident when we got to the overlook. It was pretty full of families and hiking groups, although there was still plenty of room for everyone. If you like to have the scenic point to yourself, try to get up early or go on a weekday! It was totally understandable why so many people were visiting the overlook; the colors were simply stunning. It was an incredible day to be out hiking, so warm for late October! We had a lovely time sitting on the rocks and chatting with strangers. It’s beautiful to see how nature brings people together! 

This loop clocked in just under 5 miles, which is the perfect length for us weekend hikers. When we got back to the considerably fuller parking lot, we headed over to the Spruce Flats Bog boardwalk. This quick 0.25 mile path takes you out to one of the most unique features of the Laurel Highlands area. A bog is a type of wetland that gets all of its moisture from snow and rain, rather than runoff or groundwater. The Spruce Flats Bog is so unique because it is 2,700ft above sea level on a mountain depression! Bogs end up being highly acidic so only specific types of plant life can survive there. Look closely when you visit this bog to see if you can spot carnivorous plants like pitcher plants and sundew! 

We highly recommend this trail and next time, we’d probably stay the weekend and check out the other trails and parks in the area. Add it to our very long list of places we need to go! 

THE BEER: Helltown Brewing (Mt. Pleasant Taproom)

Address: 13 Henry C Frick St, Mt Pleasant, PA 15666
Distance from Trail Head: 26 miles, 40 mins 
Website: http://helltownbrewing.com/
Food?: Food Trucks/ BYOF
Details: Outdoor seating, dog friendly

Helltown has been kicking it around the Burgh since 2011. The Mt. Pleasant taproom is actually the original location and the namesake of the brewery. I love this little tidbit: the area that is now Mt. Pleasant was a hotbed of violence and protest during the Whiskey rebellion in the 1790s that became known as Helltown. When Mt. Pleasant was incorporated as a borough, it was given the zip 15666 as a nod to its historical roots. Since the name Helltown Brewing and the devil imagery. 

These days Helltown is quite a staple in the region. They have 4 taprooms, including the original taproom in Mt. Pleasant, one in Houston, The Strip District, and Export. They’ve grown so much that they now also export throughout PA and selection counties in WV and MD. Helltown makes some “devilishly good” beer and their taprooms are definitely worth a visit! I’ve been to all but the Export location and each place has a great atmosphere with outdoor seating. 

When J and I visited Mt. Pleasant, there was a cornhole tournament going on which made for some fun entertainment! Also I shouldn’t have been surprised, but Helltown goes ALL OUT with Halloween decorations! After a day of gorgeous fall colors, settling in with some spooky beers was the perfect way to spend a late October weekend!

Our Beer:

  • HFK – Kolsch – 5.1%
  • Eve’s Fall – Marzen – 6%
  • Sin – IPA – 6.8%
  • Headless Wylie – Pumpkin Beer – 8.1%

SUM UP: Wolf Rocks is a popular trail with gorgeous views of the Laurel Highlands. The trail starts in the small Laurel Summit State Park and travels through Forbes State Forest. The trail doesn’t have a lot of incline, but it is rocky in sections so bring your ankle support boots! The rocky overlook is a great spot to rest and take in the views. I also highly recommend adding the short boardwalk trail out to Spruce Flat Bog when you finish the Wolf Rocks Loop, to see a unique high elevation bog! We really loved hiking and driving thru this area, so try to make a day of it! Then, as you’re making your way back towards Pittsburgh, stop for a brew at Helltown in Mt. Pleasant. They got great beer, plenty of cozy outdoor seating, and usually have a food truck!

North Park & Cinderlands Taproom

Wexford, PA

A head cold can’t stop me from going leaf peeping around Pittsburgh! Hoping for an easy, woodsy hike, we headed up to North Park after work. I am definitely going to miss the evening sunlight! We’ve been hiking in North Park before, but this time we combined sections of the Rachel Carson trail, white, and blue blazes to make a nice loop. This was a quiet loop on a Friday evening and would be a great hike to bring the kids on! After our walk, we went to Cinderlands’ new Wexford location which had a fantastic outdoor space with a firepit. Enjoy these last few days of autumn colors around Western PA!

THE HIKE: North Park Loop

Length: 2.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 331 ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Time: 1-1.5 hours
Trail use: Hiking, mountain biking, leashed pets
Parking: Large lots around the park
H&H: 4/5

North Park is such a huge park that it can be hard to figure out where to hike! For some reason, we always end up in the same area near the pool but we never end up on the same path! There’s so much to choose from around here that it’s good to have a map or an AllTrails route picked out. This particular path was a nice easy wander through the woods which was exactly what I needed with a head cold! It’s always shocking how exhausted I feel when I’m sick. We had great intentions of a bigger loop but it just wasn’t in the cards that day! This 2.6 mile loop includes sections of the Rachel Carson trail, the white trail, and the blue trail and there’s plenty of opportunity to add more to your route! If you want to learn more about the Rachel Carson trail, I talk about it more in this post: https://hikesandhops.org/2022/05/29/rachel-carson-trail-acrospire-brewing-co/

North Park is the biggest of the county parks here in Allegheny County and it has pretty much any outdoor activity you could possibly want. There’s a pool, miles of trails, a golf course, a large lake for kayaking and fishing, an ice rink, several ball courts, and much more! North Park was envisioned by lumber baron E.V. Babock when he was named County Commissioner. He dreamed of creating “people’s country clubs” around the county that would offer a preserved green space for people to enjoy the beauty of nature. Coming at the high of the Industrial Revolution here in Pittsburgh, this idea for preserving greenspace was widely mocked. However, Babcock forged ahead, creating both North and South Park in 1927. We know who’s laughing now almost 100 years later! 

As you can imagine, North Park is pretty popular so be prepared to share the trail with other hikers, mountain bikers, and families as you explore nature. We only encountered a few other folks but I imagine the trails would be busy on a nice weekend. Especially at this time of year keep your eyes peeled for fungi too! We saw these huge white mushrooms on a dead snag, let me know if you have an ID! I love hiking in the fall and seeing all of the colors of the woods slowly change and fade. This was the first year I really saw the golden color of the undergrowth ferns before they die back in the winter. Overall this is a lovely hike to take any time of the year, but it was especially beautiful in the fall!

THE BEER: Cinderlands Taproom

Address: 171 Wexford Bayne Rd Ste 101, Wexford, PA 15090
Distance from Trail Head: 6 miles, 12 mins
Website: http://www.cinderlands.com/
Food?: Bar Snacks
Details: Outdoor seating, dog friendly outside

After our stroll, we wanted to check out the Wexford branch of Cinderlands. I’ve only ever been to their location in the Strip District which is very nice but so big! The Wexford location is their newest expansion, opening in 2021. The team describes this location as a stripped down version of Cinderlands, focusing in on the beer experience. Unlike the other locations, there’s not a full kitchen  although some bar snacks are available. At this taproom, there’s a wide selection of cans and merch available to-go. We saw lots of people come in to stock up for their weekend! This Cinderlands experience feels much more intimate than the larger Strip District location. The inside space is cozy with the tables thoughtfully placed so you can have a large group or just sit with a partner. We especially liked the outdoor space with tables and a firepit. The set up really encouraged friendly camaraderie with the other folks enjoying a beer. And the firepit was really a nice touch as these evenings really get cooler! 

I’ve had several Cinderlands beers before but I was most looking forward to trying their fall offering. This year, Cinderlands took a different approach to the pumpkin beer craze. They created a pumpkin beer in their Star Crumb sour line! It’s described as “Pumpkin pie in a glass”. I shamelessly love pumpkin beer so I had to try it. Sadly, this was not the one for me. I wasn’t a fan of the acidity of a sour beer and the sweetness of pumpkin. It was popular with the folks around us though so it must just be me! 

OUR BEER: 

  • Full Squish – NEIPA – 6.5%
  • Star Crumb: Pumpkin Pie – Sour – 8.2%
  • Archive Series: Amber Ale – Red Ale – 5.5%

SUM UP: North Park is the largest of the County Parks here in Allegheny County and it offers over 200 miles of multi-use trails! We stuck to a loop around the pool that stays completely in the woods and almost makes you forget how close to civilization you are! The trail is mostly easy with one steeper incline at the very end and a few rocky spots. Although I’ve rated it as moderate, I still think a novice hiker could do this one! After enjoying a stroll in nature, head over to Wexford to relax at Cinderland’s Taproom. Try to snag a spot at the firepit for the perfect fall evening!

Settler’s Cabin Loop & Helicon Brewing

Oakdale, PA

Nothing beats fall hiking. Not only are you rewarded with gorgeous colors, there’s less bugs and you don’t sweat as much. WIN! Last weekend, we went out to one of the best parks on the Western side of Pittsburgh, Settler’s Cabin Park. Despite going here for reunions and grad parties most of my life, I only learned recently that there are miles of wooded trails there too! This is an awesome place to catch a secluded hike on a blustery fall day. Afterward, head to Helicon Brewery in Oakdale for some brews, food trucks, and arcade games!

THE HIKE: Settler’s Cabin Loop

Length: 3.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 350ft
Difficulty: Easy
Time: 1.5 hours
Trail use: Hiking, Leashed Pets
Parking: Large lots throughout
H&H: 4/5

Settler’s Cabin Park is one of the many parks managed and maintained by Allegheny County. The large park boasts not only miles of trail, but large pavilions, a wave pool, playgrounds, tennis courts, and a hockey rink. There really is something for everyone! 

The park gets its name from a historic log cabin located onsite which archaeologists helped to date to 1780. The various pavilions are also named for the Native peoples that once lived in this area including the Algonquian, Seneca, Cayuga, and Chippewa. Prior to the land being purchased by the County in 1971, this area was an active coal mine. Thankfully, efforts are continually being made to reclaim and reforest the area, as well as to mitigate some of the residual mine drainage in some of the creeks. Because of its history, the land can support a unique variety of native flora in its more acidic soil. Settler’s Cabin is particularly known for its beautiful displays of wildflowers in the Spring and Fall. We were delighted to see the fall goldenrod and asters bursting out of the undergrowth! 

There are several trails you can take at Settler’s Cabin although not all are very well marked. We like to park by the dog park to start out and to follow the signs for the waterfall. I recommend using a trail map or app to track your hike as it can be easy to end up a lot further from your car than expected! If you’re not sure which trail to pick, the parks website has a pretty nice GIS map of all their county parks! You can get it in app form as well. We did a combo of the different trail blazes but I think we mostly stayed on the green and red blazes! These trails meander through the woods and at times cross over a parking lot or past a playground so keep your eyes peeled for the re-entry points. I would rate these trails as easy although there are a few places of incline that get your blood pumping. This trail system is really great for a short outing with the family or a longer solo hike. This is definitely an area that we’ll be returning to all year long! 

THE BEER: Helicon Brewery

Address: 102 Union Ave, Oakdale, PA 15071
Distance from Trail Head: 6.5 miles, 13 mins 
Website: http://heliconbrewing.com/
Food?: BYOF or Food Trucks
Details: Outdoor seating, dog friendly outside
H&H Rating: 3/5

Helicon Brewing is located in the small town of Oakdale, right on the Panhandle Trail. If biking is more your speed, this is an excellent place to end your ride! Helicon has been pouring beers since 2016 and has quickly become a town staple. When we visited on a crisp Friday night, the lawn was packed with families tailgating! They also have ample indoor space around the bar and at tables set up throughout the space. Probably the most unique thing about Helicon are the over 40 pinball machines! Periodically they host big tournaments so keep your eyes peeled on their social if that’s something you’re into!

What’s in a name? Well a lot actually! Nowaday Oakdale was originally part of a 400 acre parcel of land gifted to Judge Hugh Henry Brackenridge (the founder of the University of Pittsburgh and namesake of my sophomore dorm!). The land was named Mt. Helicon after the eponymous mountain in Greek mythology which is said to be the home of the muses. As a nod to this, Helicon’s logo is a Greek harp adorned with a barley sprig. 

Helicon is a great neighborhood space that balances being a local pub with a family friendly atmosphere. It’s always a hopping place that’s extremely popular with the local neighborhood. It feels like everyone knows each other when you pop in! While Helicon doesn’t offer a huge range of styles, it has some solid staples that are clearly crowd pleasers! My go-to is always the oatmeal stout, especially as these evenings get cooler! 

Our Beer:

  • Festbier – Festbier – 6.2%
  • Oatmeal Stout – Stout – 4.9%

SUM UP: Settler’s Cabin is a county park just outside of Pittsburgh that offers a wave pool, playgrounds, sports fields, and miles of trails. The trails are fairly well marked and don;t have too much difficult terrain. I’d rate most of the trails as easy and there are up to 7 miles of trail to explore. Keep your eyes peeled for the cutest waterfall on the green trail! Afterward, head over to Helicon Brewing in Oakdale for some brews, pinball, and neighborhood vibes. If you’re craving more outdoor time, take your bike for a spin on the Panhandle trail right beside the brewery!

Craggy Gardens & Burial Beer Co.

Asheville, NC

Today I want to share two amazing hikes that we did while staying in Asheville, NC. These two short hikes are very close together on the Blue Ridge Parkway, although you do have to drive a short way between trailheads. Definitely go for the views, as you’ll get some incredible sights of the Blue Ridge Mountains and I highly recommend doing the Pinnacle as a sunset hike. Back in Asheville, there’s no shortage of breweries to check out! We suggest pairing it with Burial Beer Company in the Brewery District area of town. Keep your eyes peeled for more hikes from North Carolina in the coming weeks, and don’t worry we’ll be back to hiking in the ‘Burgh asap!

THE HIKE: Craggy Gardens & Pinnacle

Length: 3 miles total
Elevation Gain: 816 ft total
Difficulty: Moderate
Time: 1.5 – 2 hours
Trail use: Hiking, leashed pets
Parking: Large lot at trailhead but fills up quickly
H&H: 5/5

Craggy Gardens and Craggy Pinnacle are actually two different hikes, but they’re so close together that I decided to group them into one! One of the best parts of Asheville, aside from the 29 breweries and world class food, is the proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway. This meandering road is known for its stunning beauty as it climbs through the Blue Ridge Mountains. It runs for 469 miles, linking Shenandoah National Park and the Great Smoky Mountains. All along the Parkway there are scenic pull offs and hiking paths to explore. 

The Craggy Mountains are situated in a particularly high elevation area of the Blue Ridge Mountains. In fact the highest point in the Appalachian and the highest point in eastern North America is only a few miles away! Because of this, they have a unique environment in which catawba rhododendrons flourish. Although we were too late this year, visitors flock to this area in June to see the pink and purple blooms at their peak. The Craggies are only about 30 minutes away from Asheville so this is a great place to check out if you’re staying in town. 

We did this hike our first evening in town! After leaving Hilton Head, we drove 5 hours to Asheville and wanted to do a sunset hike to cap off the day. Craggy Gardens area was constantly mentioned as a great place for views along the Blue Ridge Parkway so we went for it! First, we did the Craggy Gardens loop which was 1.9 miles out and back. You can park either at the Gardens picnic area or at the visitor center for this hike! I’d suggest parking at the picnic area so you build up to the viewpoint at the visitor center. We did the opposite and while the hike was still lovely, it didn’t have the same “wow” factor! 

When doing this hike, make sure to wear sturdy shoes and maybe even bring hiking poles! The high elevation causes a lot of condensation so even when it’s not raining, the trails can be quite damp. BUT this also means SO MUCH GREEN. We had a blast on all of our hikes around Asheville hunting for wildflowers and mushrooms and we were not disappointed! Along the Craggy Gardens trail, you’ll also encounter some shelters for backpackers and a delightful gazebo that looks out over the mountains. We also walked through an interesting area called a bald. These areas of unexpectedly little vegetation are common in the Southern Appalachians but no one knows their origin. Unlike an Alpine zone where the lack of tall vegetation is expected, these are environments that could support large hardwoods, but don’t for some reason. It’s so odd to be deep in the woods and then suddenly spill out on a large open area! 

After you finish up at Craggy Gardens, it’s time to get back in the car and drive the few miles up the road to the Craggy Pinnacles. Try to time this part just right to get there well before sundown so you can catch the whole experience! Craggy Pinnacle is a quick 1 mile out and back but be prepared to spend some time here! Oh and the hike up to the Pinnacle is pretty steep. We definitely had to stop and catch our breath a few times! And at 5860ft in elevation, you might notice a slight difficulty in getting a lungful. As you near the top of the pinnacle, there are several scenic viewpoints to check out. First, head to the upper viewpoint which offers 360 degree views of the area! There’s a large stone structure that can accommodate several hikers, so you’ll have plenty of room to take in the views. The evening we went, it got a bit crowded up there so we went to the lower viewpoint and had the spot nearly to ourselves. Guys, I cannot say enough about how incredible watching the sunset here was. We took so many pictures, but nothing quite captures the intense colors and the swirling mist as the sun sunk behind the mountains. If you only get one hike in Asheville, make it this one. Oh and bring a sweatshirt, it gets chilly up on the ridge! After the sunset, carefully make your way back down to the parking lot. We were able to see pretty well in the dusk but bring a headlight or flashlight if you’re concerned about visibility! 

I cannot say enough good things about this hike! And if you ever go while the Catawba rhododendrons are blooming please send me a picture! 

THE BEER: Burial Beer Company

Address: 40 Collier Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
Distance from Trail Head: 20.8 mi, 38 mins   
Website: http://www.burialbeer.com/
Food?: Full Menu
Details: Outdoor seating, dog friendly
H&H Rating: 5/5

Okay okay, you can probably tell that we didn’t go to this brewery after our hike. BUT who says you can’t hop then hike?? We had some time to kill before checking into our AirBnb for the weekend so we decided to check out the famed Asheville breweries before heading for a hike. Not sure I would recommend this method but hey we were on vacation! I had heard a lot of good things about Burial Beer and even our Airbnb host said it was their favorite in the area. So naturally, it was at the top of my (long) list of Asheville musts. Honestly it’s so difficult to decide where to go around here cause there’s just too many options and frankly I just can’t drink that much beer. We eventually had to just let go of wanting to try as many places as we could and just enjoy the moment. Hence, Burial Beer. 

The Burial story started when some beer-minded friends decided to start their own brewery after years of homebrewing and beer blogging in the Seattle area. Eventually, they found Asheville and decided the artsy, small-town vibe was the perfect fit. They started Burial Beer Co in 2013 with a modest system. Within a year, they already needed to expand to accommodate demand! Within a few years, their following grew so much that they were able to purchase an old forestry site used by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 40s and turn it into a huge production facility, office and a taproom & restaurant. Today, Burial also has locations in Raleigh and Charlotte. Talk about exponential growth! 

We visited their OG location in the South Slopes of Asheville. This was such a cool space with the indoor taproom giving some spooky crypt-like vibes and the outside patio feeling like a cookout party. I loved the red van sitting out back and learned it was actually the van that the founders drove cross-country in to start the business in Asheville! How cool! This location also has a full kitchen so no doggos inside but it seemed like they were welcome in the outside space. We really like the beer here, everything was delicious! And the names were cracking us up. As could be expected from the brewery name, they lean in pretty hard with the heavy metal atmosphere so all the beer names were so over the top. Personally, I’m not sure if they’re just pretentious or poking good natured fun, but we chose to interpret them as humorous. 

Our Beer:

  • Culture Keepers – Festbier – 5.8%
  • To Be Free of Clear Meaning and Willing Comprehension – IPA – 7%
  • Portrayals of Ephemeral Beings – Pale Ale – 5.8%
  • Currents of Radiance – Kolsch – 4.7%

SUM UP: Craggy Gardens and Pinnacle are must-do hikes when visiting Asheville. Both hikes are short and beginner friendly, although there are some steep inclines and potentially slippery rocks. Try to time the Pinnacle hike to be there for sunset, it was an incredible experience. Both of these hikes are along the Blue Ridge Parkway only about a mile apart, but be aware that the two trails do not cross so you will have to drive between the trail heads. These are popular trails so you might encounter some trail traffic. Make sure to pack layers as the temperatures on the Ridge can be vastly different than in town. Afterward, there is no shortage of awesome breweries to checkout. We went to Burial Beer Co for some delicious beer in some heavy metal digs. 

Pinckney Island NWR & Side Hustle Beer Co.

Hilton Head Island, SC

Even on vacation, there are Hikes & Hops to be had! J and I made the long haul down to South Carolina for a week of relaxing at Hilton Head. But if you’re like me and need other things to do than just soaking up the sun, there are several hiking areas in and around Hilton Head Island. Since it’s so close to the shore, this hike was a completely different type of terrain for us. At Pinckney Island, expect to meander past saltwater marshes, ponds, beaches and more. This is a place to take it slow and let nature speak for itself. Bring plenty of water and be prepared for lots of bugs! I also highly recommend doing a kayaking tour on your visit to HHI!

THE HIKE: Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge

Length: 4.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 30 ft
Difficulty: Easy
Time: 1.5 hours
Trail use: Hiking, Biking, No pets
Parking: Large lot at trailhead
H&H: 4/5

Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge is managed and maintained by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and is a protected natural area. It was established in 1975 on land that was once a revolutionary war veteran’s plantation. The entire refuge is over 4,000 acres and includes several islands, although Pinckney is the largest and the only one accessible by the public. The Refuge offers a unique environment for a wide range of wildlife. Expect to see salt marshes, forests, brushland, and freshwater ponds. The truly captivating part of Pinckney Island is the sheer amount of wildlife that call it home. There’s a huge population of wading birds, especially egrets, ibis, and heron, as well as eagles, osprey, and hawks. If you’re lucky, you might spy a pod of dolphins! As you’re walking, keep your eyes peeled for reptiles like alligators and snakes. 

Although the refuge is open to the public, keep in mind that the Pinckney Island NWR is primarily a nature and wildlife preserve. Its main goal is maintaining an area of wildlife conservation, especially in a region of high coastal development. Pinckney Island is just one of seven protected refuges that make up the Savannah Coastal Refuges Complex. 

Accessing Pinckney Island NWR is easy from either Hilton Head Island or Bluffton on the mainland. There’s only one entrance right off 278 (Wm Hilton Pkwy) which leads to a large parking lot. Be aware that there are no bathroom facilities on the island so plan accordingly! Although we decided to walk the trails, the wide gravel and mown paths are great for biking as well. Biking is probably the best way to see the entirety of the island’s nearly 14 miles of trails. However, do remember that this is South Carolina so it’s likely to be hot, extremely humid, and very buggy. Please bring plenty of water! 

We went on a pretty muggy day so we didn’t make it quite as far as we hoped. When first leaving the parking lot, there’s only one main road to take. This is a wide gravel path that is fairly busy with cyclists and families. This road leads to the Ibis Pond where, true to its name, there are hundreds of wading birds. After this pond, there are a few directions you can go and you will likely leave the crowds behind! We didn’t see another person until we came back to this main road. 

My biggest complaint about this hiking area was the mown grass paths. When we went, the grass was quite high and it made me pretty uncomfortable despite my long pants. I was probably overreacting, but I didn’t like the idea of not being able to see critters in the long grass. So we did our best to keep to the gravel paths when possible. Despite the paths being quite flat, I was surprised how quickly we tired out. The heat and humidity is no joke! We wanted to make it to Shell Point Beach, but the distance was quite a bit further than I realized and we eventually turned around. Next time, I’d like to bring our bikes and try to see more of the island! 

Tiny crab!

THE BEER: Side Hustle Beer Co.

Address: 144 Arrow Rd Unit A, Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
Distance from Trail Head: 9 miles, 13 mins 
Website: http://www.sidehustlebeerco.com/
Food?: BYOF, Occasional Food Trucks
Details: Outdoor seating only, pets welcome
H&H Rating: 5/5

Side Hustle Beer Company is South Carolina’s smallest brewery! It’s so small in fact, that they don’t have an indoor seating area. It’s just a small counter where you can get draft pours and cans to go and then enjoy your draft on the outdoor patio. Honestly, with how gross and sweaty we were after the hike, it was probably for the best that we sat outside! 

As its name implies, Side Hustle is a small venture between friends who decided to start a small side venture to bring good craft beer to Hilton Head. And man are they succeeding! We were pleasantly surprised by how good the beer was here! Everything was refreshing and well made, I couldn’t believe that it came from such a new and tiny company. I particularly loved the Porch Pineapple, it was probably the best summer beer I’ve had in a long time!  We also loved the atmosphere. The patio was full of plants and games and it was delightful to see people swinging by on their bikes to pick up a six-pack. It definitely had the feel of a local favorite. 

Upon researching for this blog post, I learned that Side Hustle has been acquired by a larger branding company that also owns some local restaurants and the popular Burnt Church Distillery. I hope that this is a good move for the business! They recently announced that they will be moving to a larger facility with indoor seating, a beer garden, and several dining options. I wish them all the best!

Our Beer:

  • Point Break – NEIPA – 7%
  • Porch Pineapple – Wheat Beer – 5.8%
  • Rocket Emoji – Double IPA – 8.3%
  • …And There’s Your BFF – Peach Sour – 6%
  • South Island – Pilsner – 5.1%
  • Refraction – NEIPA – 7.6%

SUM UP: Pinckney Island is a federally protected wildlife refuge located on the South Carolina coast between Bluffton and Hilton Head. It is open to the public for hiking, biking, fishing, and wildlife viewing. Be aware of the hot and humid climate as you’re preparing for a visit here. There’s no bathroom facilities but make sure to bring plenty of water and try to stay hydrated. I also recommend long pants and bug spray as the area can get quite buggy. Most of all, remember that it is the wildlife’s home and you’re just visiting! After your hike, head onto Hilton Head Island to visit Side Hustle Beer Co. This is a small neighborhood venture that offers up some of the best beer in the region! Bring a picnic or order some take out and hang out on the patio for a while! You won’t be disappointed.

Sunrise at Sea Pines
Our Eco-Kayak Tour! We saw lots of birds and oysters!