There is a beautiful wildlife sanctuary located in the middle of the historic and picturesque city of Walterboro, SC.
Easily reached from I-95, the Walterboro Wildlife Sanctuary is a great place to leave the traffic behind, stretch your legs and enjoy nature. The sanctuary contains a network of boardwalks, hiking, biking and canoe trails that are perfect for viewing a diversity of a black water bottomland habitat.
Wildlife is abundant in the sanctuary. Wild turkey, deer,
raccoons, beaver, otter, mink, opossum, squirrels, fox, alligators and wildcats
have been spotted here.
History, culture, recreation and educational opportunities are waiting for you. The 600-acre sanctuary features a “braided creek” swamp, which divides into an interlocking, or tangled network of several small branching and reuniting creeks, resembling a braid.
The 3.5-mile loop is paved and well maintained. The most historically significant path here follows the Colonial-era Charleston-to-Savannah Stagecoach Road. The former road still bears the remains of cypress built and long-fallen bridges.
A Discovery Center is currently being constructed on the grounds. Upon completion, it will include a multi-purpose classroom, exhibit area and amphitheater.
From I-95, take Exit 53 and head into Walterboro. The first entrance is located to the left at the corner of S. Jefferies & Ivanhoe Roads. There is also parking at 399 Detreville Street and Washington Street.
Bikes and dogs on leashes are welcome on the pathways of the sanctuary, so load up the family and make your way to this nature-based tourism gem that Trip Advisor gives 4 ½ stars. See you soon.
Ridgeland and its surrounding villages
are home to many beautiful and historic churches. They are close enough in
proximity to make a day trip to visit these special houses of worship.
Located in the
Grahamville area you will find both Church of the Holy Trinity Episcopal and
its neighbor Euhaw Baptist Church.
Holy Trinity Church & Euhaw Baptist Church
The current Holy
Trinity Church was built in 1858. Two earlier versions dating as far back as
1824 were built as chapels of ease for planters using the Grahamville area as a
summer retreat village. The live oaks that surround the building were planted
by the women of the congregation in the 1800s.
Most of the buildings
of Ridgeland were burned during the Civil War, but this church was spared,
having served as Union headquarters during Sherman’s famous March to the Sea.
Rumor also has it that horses were stabled in the church. The antebellum church
was ransacked of its possessions during its occupation. Years later, in 1928 a
bible belonging to the church was discovered in the attic of a New York music
publisher. He returned it to the church with a note stating, “How it came into
possession of my family I do not know.” The bible’s endsheet bears the scribbled
name of a Union officer. The church now protects the bible as a treasured
The church is a notable example of Carpenter Gothic style architecture. The asymmetrical composition, wheel windows and buttressed tower are great examples of this style. The bell tower serves as a stairway that leads to the old slave gallery. A pipe organ now sits in this gallery. The interior boasts an original hammer-beam timber ceiling. If you would like to read more about this church, visit the Church of the Holy Trinity’s website.
Euhaw Baptist Church was first built on this site in 1860. This church is the second oldest Baptist organization in the South. Originally located on Edisto Island, the first structure was built in 1686. This church split, and relocated to the Grahamville village, which is now a part of Ridgeland. Euhaw means “Indian Lands.” The church was named in their honor. The original church at this location was burned during the Civil War. Luckily the congregation was able to restore it. Unfortunately, a forest fire destroyed the building in 1904, and the current structure was built in 1906.
This beautiful village church has gentle whispers of a late Victorian style. The asymmetrical arched and hooded windows, central round windows, towers and gingerbread draw homage to the period of architecture that was popular at the turn of the century. The 1906 Euhaw Baptist Church stands proudly as it was built, and no longer used for services. The congregation built a new more modern building next door in 1985. This structure is used only for special occasions. If you would like to read more, visit the SC Picture Project‘s page about the Euhaw Baptist Church or the EBC Faith Web.
Robertville Baptist Church
Baptist Church sits in the village of Robertville, just a few miles outside
Ridgeland. The original 1824 church was burned during the Civil War. This
beautiful structure was built in the 1840s and moved from Gillisonville to its
current location in 1871. It was transported and moved piece-by-piece to the
current site. Church members included Confederate Brigadier General Alexander
Robert Lawton, who founded the American Bar Association, and his nephew,
General Henry Martyn Robert, who wrote Robert’s Rules of Order.
The unaltered church is a lovely blend of Greek and Gothic Revival styles. The interior pews date to 1867. According to the National Register, the church “Remains unaltered and designed with graceful simplicity, the little church gains its charm from an unusual but successful blending of styles: the Greek Revival with Gothic Revival details. The portico is supported by only two Doric columns (without capitals) on pedestals. The double front paneled door is crowned by a lancet arch. The Gothic detail is repeated in the gable ornament above and in the windows. All interior wood is said to be original.”
Gillisonville Baptist Church stands proudly in what was once the courthouse village of old Beaufort District. The courthouse, square and adjacent buildings of Gillisonville were burned by Sherman’s army in 1865.
Built in 1838, the antebellum church was spared during the Civil War because it was used as headquarters for a contingent of Union troops when they passed through the area. A Union soldier carved into the original antique silver communion set “War of 1861-2-3-4. Feb. 1865. As Union troops approached the Gillisonville village in 1865, a cannonball damaged the building’s steeple and bell tower. The tower has remained “steeple-free” as a reminder of its occupation. After the war the sanctuary served as a temporary courtroom until 1868, then the seat of government moved back to Beaufort.
The Greek Revival structure is covered in white clapboard and sits on a brick foundation. Constructed by local craftsmen, the church still possesses many of the original features. Boxed pews, random width flooring, and a former slave balcony can still be seen inside the sanctuary. The pulpit was repurposed and moved from the neighboring Coosawhatchie courthouse. It was formerly a judge’s seat. It is still in use today.
Holy Trinity Episcopal – 2718 Bees Creek Road, Grahamville Euhaw Baptist Church – 2576 Bees Creek Road, Grahamville Robertville Baptist Church – 26 Robertville Drive, Robertville Gillisonville Baptist Church – 10158 Grays Highway, Gillisonville
One of the lowcountry’s most photographed sites recently gained
several feet of protection. In an effort to preserve and protect the Old
Sheldon Church, a locked fence has been placed around the ruins. Visitors can
still visit the site but cannot pass through the iconic columns and brick
The church is owned by the Parish Church of St. Helena. They
have been researching ways to preserve the ruins from rapid decay. The historic
structure has fallen victim to vandalism by way of desecrating tombstones, graffiti,
brick removal and destruction.
The Parish Church of St. Helena has plans to bring in
docents on site to lead tours through the beautiful ruins. Restoration work
will shortly begin first. Walking paths will be placed within the interior portion
of the ruins. Walking through the brick archways will only be possible with
professional supervision to ensure damage is not done to the structure.
This early example of Greek Revival stands as a testament to
master craftsmanship and has had a very interesting life. The South Carolina
Picture Project wrote a great article about its storied past. A tablet located on the grounds reads:
“Church of Prince William’s Parish, known as Sheldon, built between 1745-1755.
Burned by the British Army 1779. Rebuilt 1826. Burned by the Federal Army 1865.
Another sign states: “Old Sheldon is not a
recreational area or playground.”
As visitors to this site we must respect this sacred and historically significant lowcountry gem. We must also understand, and not be offended by the fence. Protecting this structure for future generations is critical. The efforts of St. Helena should be applauded and appreciated.
History abounds from start to finish. Take a day trip to visit the historic sites on this scenic island road.
St. Helena is home to many beautiful roads. A turn onto Lands End Road puts you right in the heart of the Penn Center. This historically significant landmark is the site of the former Penn School, one of the first educational sites for formally enslaved individuals. Their website says it best, “Opened in 1862 the Penn School tutored freedmen out of slavery and into freedom. After the school closed in 1948, Penn became the first African American site in the state whose primary purpose was to safeguard the heritage of the Gullah Geechie community.
Later, in the 1960’s, Penn Center took up the mantle of social justice by ushering in the Civil Rights Movement and serving as the only location in South Carolina where interracial groups, such as Dr. Martin L. King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Peace Corps could have safe sanctuary in an era of mandated segregation.
Center continues to thrive as a national monument promoting historic
preservation, as well as a catalyst for economic sustainability throughout the
Sea Islands. Its far-reaching impact on local, national and international
communities has been the greatest legacy of the Penn Center’s history.”
oldest building on the site is the Brick Church. Built in 1855, Brick Church
was an early location of the first school.
visiting the Penn Center your first stop should be the Courtney P. Siceloff
Welcome Center and Gift Shop in the York W. Bailey Museum. The museum is open
Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
If you would like to read more about the historically significant Penn Center, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has a great ARTICLE, or visit the PENN CENTER WEBSITE.
As you travel further down Lands End Road you will find the St. Helena Parish Chapel of Ease Ruins. This tabby house of worship was built in the mid-1700s for the plantation families that lived on the sea island. Because the island was occupied by Union troops during the Civil War, the plantation families abandoned their homes and the church was used by the abandoned slaves of the island. It was used by Northerners who came south to educate and train freemen. It was also used as a sanctuary by Methodist freemen as early as 1868. A forest fire destroyed the structure in 1886 and it was left in disrepair.
The church ruins are surrounded by ancient oaks, dripping in Spanish moss. It also has a cemetery, containing a tomb containing Fripp family members. This is a great spot to take pictures and reflect on the splendor of this historic site. The SC Picture Project has a great ARTICLE about the chapel of ease ruins with many beautiful pictures.
Standing sentry at the end of Lands End Road is the Fort Fremont Historical Park. Built in 1889, this fort was one of six fortifications designed to protect the coast during the Spanish American War. Long abandoned, the site now sits in beautiful ruins. Surrounded by live oaks, the fort looks out over Port Royal Sound with 900 feet of beach access.
Visible now are the recessed spots where disappearing cannons were positioned. Fort Fremont was officially deactivated in 1912 when the Port Royal Naval Station moved from Parris Island to Charleston. The property went into private hands for several years. While the hospital was transformed into a hunting and fishing lodge, the fort fell into disrepair. They were both listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2004 the fort and 15 acres were purchased transform the ruins into a public park.
Visitors can roam through the preserve and
view the fort from all angles. According to the Fort Fremont Historical
“Ft. Fremont serves as a historical
remnant of military defense technology at the dawn of the 20th century as the
U.S. became a major world power.”
Fort Fremont is open for touring during daylight hours. You can also access and walk along the beach through the fort property. The full history of Fort Fremont can be found HERE.
Lake Warren State Park is located just outside Hampton. The
park provides many opportunities for outdoor recreation. A wide variety of
wildlife can be found in the floodplain forest, wetlands and woodlands of the
park. While walking in the park look for deer, armadillo, turtles, raccoons,
squirrels… Be on the lookout for alligators, snakes and birds along the shores
of the lake.
The 200-acre lake is
perfect for freshwater fishing and boating. The park also has a 2-acre fishing
pond. There are two boat ramps that provide access to the lake. Motors are
limited to 10-horsepower. Jon boats are also available for rent.
If you enjoy hiking, the park has three nature trails. Trail locations can be found on the park MAP. The Nature Trail is a 1.25-mile loop that travels through the woods and ends at the fishing pond. Interpretive signs are placed along this trail to increase your knowledge of local wildlife. The Fit Trail has 10 exercise stations. This .0-mile loop is located among the wildlife in a mixed pine forest. The Yemassee Trail skirts along the bank of Lake Warren. Watch for birds and other wildlife including snakes and alligators.
Pets are welcome at the park. The trails are a great place
to walk your dog. Dogs must always be kept under physical restraint or on a
The park also has picnic shelters and a playground. It’s a great place to spend a sunny day. If you’re looking to fish, hike, play or relax, Lake Warren State Park is the perfect destination for you.
If you are looking for a dog-friendly beach adventure that
aims to please, look to Fripp Island. This easternmost barrier island in South
Carolina is located at the end of Highway 21 in Beaufort County. Just a stone’s
throw from Hunting Island State Park, Fripp provides private island vacationing
(and living) at its finest. Amenities abound and nature delights. If your furry
friend is a part of your vacation plans, this is the destination for you.
range from tennis villas and golf cottages to beachfront homes. My party
included two and a dog, so the tennis villas were perfect for us. Positioned between
the canal and the courts, with the Beach Club across the street, everything we
needed was in sight.
The best way to move around Fripp is by golf cart. Check
when picking a rental to see if you have a golf cart and amenities cards
included. If not, you can rent one at Island Excursions (located at the marina).
Bikes and scooters are also available. Most beach access points have golf cart
parking. You simply load your beach supplies and cooler onto your cart and head
out for a day on the ocean.
Unpack, pick up your golf cart and head to the beach. If
taking your dog, you might want to start off at a more isolated beach. Follow
Tarpon Blvd (the main road) to the end to find the perfect spot to introduce
your furry friend to the ocean. This beach overlooks Pritchard’s Island which
is only accessible by boat. Kayak trips across are a fun way to explore this
island. Keep in mind, the sand gets very hot, so limit dog access to the beach
to morning and evening excursions.
Another thing to consider is introducing your dog to the
presence of deer. They are everywhere! They roam the island freely and have
grown accustomed to visitors. Keep in mind, they are wild animals and should
not be fed or bothered. To round out the end of the day, have a drink and enjoy
the music at the Sandbar (located at the Beach Club).
If your trip includes amenities cards, you can enjoy the restaurants and pools at the Marina, Beach Club and Cabana Club. The restaurant at the Cabana Club offers great fish tacos and pina coladas. The Bonito Boathouse is a great choice for dinner. The staff is pleasant, the views are breath-taking, and the food is very tasty.
Resort amenities offer a an unmatched variety of sports and leisure activities on Fripp. Amenities include: activity center and programs, pools, racquet club, dining & restaurants, shopping, island excursions, marina and Camp Fripp. For the golfers, you have two spectacular courses to chose from. There are also fun things to do in the Beaufort area. Click HERE for more ideas.
Fripp features 3.5 miles of spectacular, uncrowded white sandy beaches flanked by towering Palmetto trees, just waiting for you to enjoy. Check out the FRIPP ISLAND MAP to find great access points to the beautiful beach. All beach access points are numbered, so if you plan on an evening stroll on the beach, pay attention to your access point number so you can find your way back at the end of the walk.
The island is covered in miles of walking trails along the
roadways and through the forest and marsh. Designated as a wildlife sanctuary, Fripp
hosts many species of birds, along with wildlife including deer, turtles, alligators
and raccoons. There is an Audubon Trail located on Porpoise Drive. The trail goes
through the maritime forest and ends at the marsh of the Fripp Inlet.
Educational signs and benches are placed along the trail.
Step back in time to visit the historic wonders of this small town.
Many travelers enjoy driving Highway 17, between Charleston and
Savannah. The naturally beautiful landscape of Yemassee is located between the
two cities. A simple turn off Hwy 17 onto Old Sheldon Church Road is like
stepping back in time. Travel up the road for about two miles and see the
church ruins on the right. Parking is located across the street. This church
was burned during the Revolutionary War, rebuilt and then destroyed again
during the Civil War. There is a debate as to whether the church was burned or
disassembled during the Civil War.
The following is from an article in the April 1969 Sandlapper
Magazine by Charles E. Thomas, “The Picturesque Ruins of Old Sheldon Church”.
“The official South Carolina report on the ‘Destruction of Churches and Church
Property,’ after the War Between the States, described Sheldon’s second
burning: All that was combustible was consumed…, its massive walls survive the
last as they did the former conflagration, Bishop Thomas wrote, Exactly as it
happened a hundred years before in 1779, when General Prevost, marching from
Savannah into South Carolina burned the Church, so now in February 1865,
General Sherman marching from Georgia into South Carolina, burned it a second
However, another account found more recently states that the church was not
burnt at all.
In a letter dated February 3, 1866, Beaufort’s Miton Leverett
wrote, “Sheldon Church not burnt. Just torn up in the inside but can be
repaired.” The inside of the church was apparently gutted to reuse materials in
rebuilding the area homes that were burnt by Sherman’s army.
After visiting the ruins, continue up Old Sheldon Church Road and
head into Yemassee. Cross the railroad
tracks and keep left. Cross Hwy 17A and turn left onto Hwy 68. Head out of town
and to the other side of I-95. Take a left at Davidson Tower Road and another
left at the end onto Pocotaligo Road. Travel about two miles to find two more
Sheldon Chapel Episcopal, formerly of Prince William Parish sits
proudly on the left at 25481 Pocotaligo Road. Dated to 1745, the church was
dismantled and used to build bridges by Gen. Sherman during the Civil War then
rebuilt in 1898.
If you turn left directly after the church, you will come upon another historic structure. Fans of the movie Forest Gump will recognize this church. Forrest went to church here to pray that he and Lieutenant Dan would find shrimp. Built in 1833 this chapel was used for seasonal worship. It is the only pre-Civil War structure in this area. During the war the chapel was used as a hospital and campsite by Union troops.
Retrace your path and come back to Old Sheldon Road. Turn
right onto Cotton Hall. This will lead you back to highway 17 and past the
gates and oak avenues of two beautiful plantations. While the homes aren’t
visible to passersby, the entrances are photo worthy.
A drive to Old Town Bluffton is always a good idea. The
historic architecture and river views are spectacular. There is also a hidden
gem worked into the landscape. Today’s outing started at the Heyward House,
located at 70 Boundary St. This property has been in Bluffton since 1841. The
house serves as Bluffton’s official Welcome Center and museum. The house is
decorated in period furnishings and is complete with artifacts that tell the
story of Bluffton, and the people that once lived there. There are also
outbuildings located behind the house that represent a cook house and slave
Another historic treasure is located just a few streets away at 110 Calhoun Street. The Church of the Cross has stood on the bluff of the May River since 1854. This Gothic structure celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2004.
The oldest church in Old Town Bluffton dates to 1853. The Bluffton Methodist Church building was purchased by nine former slaves in 1874. Campbell Chapel AME Church was formed by these visionary founding fathers. While the structure has been altered and renovated over the years, the original structure still stands strong and proud.
The Bluffton Oyster Company has been a part of Old Town
Bluffton since 1899. It sits on is reclaimed land at the end of Warf Street.
This land built up by more than a hundred years’ worth of discarded shells. Situated
directly adjacent is the Oyster Factory Park. The park has a nature trail which
is unique for the Old Town area. There is also a firepit area, a playground and
plenty of picnic spots. Restrooms are conveniently located here also.
The Garvin-Garvey Freeman’s Cottage is located inside the
park. This historically significant house has recently undergone extensive
renovations. It is believed that former slave Cyrus Garvin built the house on
the property of his former owner.
Views of the May River are spectacular from the front porch.
Tours are available through the Heyward House.
Another fun stop in Old Town is the Pritchard Pocket Garden.
Located where the street meets the river, this little hidden gem was worth the
trouble of finding it. Parking is along the road. Entrance is through a small
gate and down a short path. Benches are set up on the bluff that overlooks the
May River. It is a calm and relaxing spot to breath in the SC Lowcountry at its
finest, and a great way to end the day exploring Old Town Bluffton.
Donnelley is a favorite spot
for tourists and locals alike. It is located on Hwy 17 in Green Pond (between
Yemassee and Jacksonboro) in the heart of the ACE Basin. Open from dawn to
dusk, this is a great place to glimpse Lowcountry nature at its finest. The
property features a historic rice field system, which is now managed to attract
waterfowl and migratory birds. The drive is pleasantly lined with beautiful old
Donnelley has walking trails and a driving tour. Navigating is best done using a map. Pick one up at the office or download one HERE. This map gives great details of all aspects of the property. The map also shows the locations of restrooms.
The first trail
takes you to a dike across an old rice field reserve. This is a great spot to
see endangered Wood Storks. Driving further in, you cross an ancient rice field
dike that was constructed in the 18th century. The Boynton Nature
Trail is next. This 2.2-mile walking trail circles another part of the old rice
field complex. All types of waterfowl can be viewed here and throughout the
Driving further onto the property brings you to the historic rice trunk, which features floodgates that can be raised or lowered to control water levels in the rice fields.
Look for alligators. They can be found sunning on the banks or floating lazily by in the water.
Further onto the property brings you to fields and meadows, where several types of birds and mammals can be found.
The driving tour covers about 11 miles and should take from an hour to half a day, depending on how many stops you make. The marked stops on the map serve simply as suggestions; feel free to stop anywhere along the way (although please park on the shoulder) and walk off the road at any point to get a closer look at wildlife or native plants. Take extra precautions when viewing alligators, especially during the spring mating season.
Donnelley Wildlife Management Area 585 Donnelley Dr. Green Pond, SC TRAILMAP
Island Wildlife Management Area
by Carmen Pinckney
This 4,053-acre national refuge consists of salt
marsh and tidal creeks, forests,
grasslands, and freshwater ponds. In combination, these habitats support a
diversity of wildlife species.
All trips begin and end at the parking area
half a mile from the refuge entrance. Touring this beautiful island is fun
on foot or by bicycle. There are over 14 miles of trails to enjoy. Coastal
Discovery Museum offers walking tours of Pinckney Island, enlisting the
expertise of an experienced bird watcher.
For this this trip I took bicycles and my
wildlife biologist husband, who happens to be a descendant of the Pinckney
family. With his extensive knowledge of the area flora and fauna, we never know
what we’re going to find.
Pinckney Island is named for
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, a South Carolina founding father and previous
owner of the island. The island, a once prosperous sea island cotton
plantation, was donated to the United States in 1975 to be used as a wildlife
refuge and a nature and forest preserve.
Pinckney Island is a great place to view,
study, and photograph wildlife. The views are breath-taking. Bring lunch and
picnic on the shores. Maps are available in the parking lot. I highly recommend
taking one on your hike so you can judge distances and where paths connect and
The main gravel roads are
very bicycle friendly. The grassy trails are a little more challenging, but
well worth it.
There are many ponds and
marshy areas along the way to stop and look for wildlife. Look for egrets and alligators
to make an appearance. There is also a butterfly garden for your enjoyment.
Keep in mind, while hiking
or biking there are no bathroom facilities. Also, visitors must also bring
their own drinking water. Furry friends are not allowed on the island. Antique
and artifact hunting is not allowed.
Pinckney Island is located
on Hwy 278, between Bluffton & Hilton Head Island
Guided tours are available through the Coastal Discovery Museum (843)689-6767, ext. 223.