Hunting Island State Park is one of South Carolina’s most popular parks. The park’s Marsh Boardwalk offers visitors just over a half-mile of exploration along the southern end of the island. The trail leads deep into a salt marsh hummock area. This maritime forest is home to many species of wildlife. It’s also the island’s prime spot to catch a sunset.
This nice, easy nature walk is perfect for all skill levels. Parts of the trip are very accessible for wheelchairs. The trail is a mixture of boardwalk and crushed, hardened surface. Smaller trails that branch off the main trail are too narrow for wheelchairs.
Views of the river can be seen from the dock at the end of the trail. Nature talks and tours are given along this trail by park rangers. Contact the nature center for more information.
Dogs are very welcome on the trails of Hunting Island. Just make sure to keep them on a leash and pick up anything that they deposit along the trail. Don’t forget to pack water for your furry friend. Bug spray is good to have along as well.
A river dock sits at the end of the trail. This is the perfect spot to catch the sunset. Be on the lookout for deer, fiddler crabs and all kinds of birds along the walk.
The Hunting Island Marsh Boardwalk sits just past the entrance to the state park on the right side of Highway 21. The boardwalk is a great place to view the salt marsh area surrounding the final stretch of the highway.
The Combahee River is Colleton County’s freshwater river of paradise
The Combahee River is a Lowcountry blackwater jewel. It is a 40-mile river that is influenced by the tides. The Combahee joins with the Ashepoo and Edisto Rivers to form the ACE Basin. The river gets its name from the Native American tribe that first inhabited the area. It’s the place where Henry Laurens died during the last fight of the Revolutionary War, and the spot where Harriet Tubman rescued over 750 slaves during the Civil War’s Raid at Combahee Ferry.
The Combahee River is a pristine marshy waterway that dumps into the Atlantic Ocean. The river begins life as a freshwater river at its headwaters in Colleton County. It becomes brackish as it nears the salty waters of the Atlantic. It’s a relatively short and narrow river, but it packs a powerfully beautiful punch. Its water, banks and skies are home to wildlife and flowers in bloom.
Local anglers will tell you its home to all breeds of bream that swim in South Carolina waters. The fish can be found under lily pads fallen trees and near cypress knees. This little Bluegill Bream was caught near Public Landing, then released. It’s a good idea to come prepared with a trolling motor and be on the lookout for shallow depths if heading upstream.
The water turns brackish near Steel Bridge Landing. Fresh and saltwater fish can be found in this area. Redfish and flounder have been known to show up here and further down near St. Helena Sound. Speckled trout frequent the salt waters of the sound as well.
Combahee River Boat Landings Highway 21 Landing – Hwy 17A, Yemassee (1 launch, no dock) Hampton Public Landing – Public Landing Rd, off 17A (2 launch lanes, dock) Colleton Sugar Hill Landing – 40 Sugar Hill Landing Rd, Yemassee (1 launch, no dock) Beaufort Steel Bridge Landing at Harriet Tubman Bridge – Charleston Hwy, Yemassee (2 launch lanes, dock) Beaufort Fields Point Landing – Fields Point Lane, Green Pond (1 launch, no dock) Colleton
The Church of the Cross in Old Town Bluffton has been a part of the town’s landscape since 1857 when Bluffton was just a summer resort for the area and inland planters. The handsome cruciform Carpenter’s Gothic Revival building was designed by E. B. White. Mullioned and fan-arched windows are framed by lattice shutters. The rose-colored glass was brought from England. Unfinished cypress timbers cover the structure that rests on a brock foundation.
Bluffton was under Federal occupation between 1861 and 1865. While most of the town was burned, the Church of the Cross was spared. The congregation returned after the war, repairs were made, and services resumed in 1870. The church stood unaltered until the roof was replaced in 1892. A deadly hurricane came ashore in 1989 and caused much damage to the building, but repairs were made, and all was well by 1900. Repurposed lumber from repairs was used to make an altar, lectern, and prayer desk. An intimate chapel was created in the narthex that was easy to heat with a pot-bellied stove for the smaller winter congregation.
The Church of the Cross in Bluffton was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. As the congregation grew, members built the first rectory in 1986. Further growth in 1997 moved the narthex wall back to its original position. The balcony above was renovated and is used for the choir and English pipe organ that was installed in 1999.
The arched pine front doors lead into a sanctuary bathed in soft light that reflects from pink plaster walls. Two shuttered lancet windows flank the centrally located door. A tripartite lancet window with smaller trefoil-shaped windows on either side sits above the door. The arched-window window design continues along the sides of the church. Exposed beams of hard yellow pine are used in the sanctuary. The gallery’s carved wooden balustrades repeat the pointed arch seen on the exterior.
The Church of the Cross is located on a high bluff, overlooking the May River. It sits in a garden of live oaks and palmetto trees. The board and batten cypress exterior, open timbered interior ceiling is in keeping with the church’s scenic, rural setting. It is an iconic landmark of Old Town Bluffton, and a “must-see” destination while visiting the Lowcountry. In fact, the entire Calhoun Street and Old Town Bluffton area is full of beautiful sights.
The Lowcountry’s newest Reconstruction Era National Site
Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park has joined five other sites throughout the state to be recognized on the Reconstruction Era National Register. The park provides educational and historical interpretation related to the Reconstruction Era, 1861-1900. Mitchelville is especially important in the history of freedom towns that were established during Reconstruction.
During the 1861 Battle of Port Royal Hilton Head Island became headquarters for the Union Army. A military order was issued that freed the slaves on the Sea Islands. Former slaves and their children fled the plantations and sought protection with the Union army. They were hired as carpenters, blacksmiths, launderers, coopers, clerks, and cooks. General Ormsby Mitchel set aside a large parcel of land along the coastline for the newly freed population. Quarter-acre lots and building materials were dispersed for the building of homes. Freedmen elected officials and created a system of law. They built churches, stores, and a school system. All children between the ages of six and fifteen were educated. Men were recruited for the on-going Civil War. They built Fort Howell to protect Mitchelville. This was often called the Port Royal Experiment.
After the Emancipation Proclamation liberated all slaves on January 1, 1863, Mitchelville became a model for future freedmen towns that were created during Reconstruction. At one time, Mitchelville was home to over 3,000 residents. After the Union army left the island in 1868, Mitchelville’s population began to decrease. When the army left, so did many of the jobs that were given to the freedmen. As time went on, residents took apart their houses and moved inland to farm and participate in local commerce. The town remained until the end of the century. Many of the descendants of Mitchelville citizens still live on the island.
According to exploremitchelville.org, “Mitchelville is one of the most significant African-American archaeological sites in the Southeast. It is one of the few that is nearly intact and offers the potential to learn even more about the lives of the early freedmen. It provides another perspective to previous studies of the “Port Royal Experiment.” The presence of Mitchelville also provides evidence of the ability of blacks to govern, educate, and care for themselves absent the bonds of slavery.” A portion of the original Mitchelville site has been protected and placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors can come to the Freedom Park and experience exhibits that show how this town once existed and prospered. Learn about Fort Howell and the 32nd United States Colored Infantry that built it.
Hilton Head Island’s long anticipated new outdoor, family-friendly attraction: GoKarts at Hilton Head is open!
Located at the re-branded Adventure Hilton Head @ Broad Creek Marina, these high performance, driver-friendly electric karts will certainly be this summer’s big attraction. Adventure Hilton Head (previously Broad Creek Marina Adventures), in the heart of HHI, has been offering thrills to the community since 2012 when the vastly popular ZipLine Hilton Head opened. The high flying guided ecotour of 7 ziplines including the dual cable racing zip finale was followed by Aerial Adventure’s 6 rope challenge courses in 2016, offering 4 levels of ability and maneuvering through 50 fun obstacles.
Rounding out the perfect HHI destination is the ever-popular, outdoor waterfront dining at the Marina’s Up the Creek Pub & Grill with its new waterfront partner, Paddles! food truck. The excitement for GoKarts at Hilton Head had reached a roar, and now, it will be the perfect summer destination. The double and single carts are equipped with advanced safety features that allow drivers approximately age 8 and above. The doubles will let children approximately age 3 and above join the driver for fast fun. The track will have attendants at all times and will be continuously sanitized. Height and weight guidelines are still to be determined during the final permitting processes.
GoKart HH prices will be about $15 per ride on this exhilarating track with various packages available for repeat riders. In addition, specially priced packages will be available when also zipping and climbing and swinging and flying and jumping on the other challenge activities. Check myadventurehiltonhead.com. Roger Freedman, owner of Adventure Hilton Head, Broad Creek Marina and Up the Creek, Adventure Hilton Head is that welcomed addition for both tourists and locals.
We have to thank the Town staff and the passionate community for their continual support of this project which had its own curves along the way,” commented Freedman. General Manager Nate Jones added, “I grew up here and now am raising a family here. Our adventure park expansion will be the perfect playground for young and not so young. We can’t wait to enjoy kids’ laughter again.” In addition, to driving and flying at Adventure Hilton Head, the adjacent Broad Creek Marina offers loads of water activities including kayaking, skiff tours, parasailing, jet skis, dolphin tours and charter boats. See Broadcreekmarinahh.com for details. Online reservations are strongly recommended.
See myadventurehiltonhead.com for details on available times, pricing and restrictions. — For further information, contact: Pam Freedman firstname.lastname@example.org (860)559-6030.
The 2022 Colleton County Rice Festival has been scheduled for April 29-30, 2022. This annual event features arts and crafts, food, fireworks, music, a parade and much more! Competitors can take part in the corn hole tournament and Rice Run.
According to the Rice Festival website, “Since it first arrived in 1685, rice helped create enormous wealth for the Lowcountry, and Colleton County was perfect for growing it. During the annual Rice Festival, we celebrate the heritage of rice in this community and the beauty of the people and land that continue to bless this great country.”
Come enjoy a fun-filled week of family activities in the warm Carolina sun. The Rice Festival has all the elements that make it fun for the entire family. Central to the festival is an arts and crafts area with a wide array of handcrafted items. The queen of the Rice Festival is crowned in a special pageant and she takes her rightful place of honor in the Rice Festival Parade as it meanders through downtown as a kickoff event to the festival. A 5K run, rated one of the top races in South Carolina, is another signature event for the festival. And what Carolina Festival is complete without a food court? Sprinkle in activities such as fireworks, music, and other entertainment, and you’ve got an event sure to please the entire family.
Explore the streets of our county seat and experience a full schedule of family activities. Come see why Walterboro is the front porch of the Lowcountry. For more information visit Ricefestival.org or follow them on Facebook.
Spend a day on the River with Coastal Expeditions South
If your idea of fun is getting out on the river to learn about native wildlife and history, Coastal Expeditions South has a tour for you! The highly skilled boat captains and their crew have four options in Beaufort: St. Phillip’s Island, Beaufort Dolphin and History, Hunting Island Dolphin Cruise, or a private boat charter. Coastal Expeditions has been in business in Charleston since 1992. In 2020 they decided to branch farther south to Beaufort and the Sea Islands. Let their experienced guides weave stories of local history and point out wildlife native to the Beaufort coast.
St. Phillip’s Island was recently acquired by Hunting Island State Park. For nearly 40 years, conservationist and cable television mogul Ted Turner and his family used this sea island as a retreat. During their ownership, trails were carved throughout the maritime forest and wildlife habitats were restored. St. Phillip’s Island is a nature-lover’s paradise. Walk under canopies of moss-draped live oaks in search of fox squirrels, bobcats, bald eagles, roseate spoonbills, and painted buntings. Stroll the pristine beach and look for loggerhead sea turtles and wading birds. Walk along the fresh-water ponds and spot alligators sunning along the banks.
This naturalist-led ecotour departs from the Hunting Island State Park Nature Center. Travel by boat along the Story River to the St. Phillip’s dock. A park ranger will greet visitors and provide a 3.5-mile tram ride to the beach. Ramble along the beach, hike the interior trails and enjoy all the island has to offer. At the end of the trip, the park ranger will take visitors back to the dock for the return boat ride. It’s a good idea to bring a backpack with drinking water, lunch, camera, sunblock, and insect repellant.
Beaufort is a beautiful and historic city that is best viewed from the water. The Beaufort Dolphin and History Cruise departs from the downtown marina. As you cruise along the waterfront, your captain will tell stories from local history from early Native American s and Spanish exploration to French settlement and English colonization. As the boat travels along the river native wildlife will be pointed out and discussed. Many varieties of birds and marine mammals are sure to be spotted.
The cruise passes the ruins of Ft. Frederick, an early American fort made of tabby construction. During the Civil War, this fort was transformed into Fort Saxon and was the training facility of the first black regiment for the Union Army. The Emancipation Proclamation was also read here on January 1, 1862. This cruise is entertaining for all age groups. The boat is Coast Guard-certified, and a master captain is at the helm. Be sure to pack drinking water, binoculars, camera, and a wind breaker.
Monday/Wednesday/Saturday/Sunday, 11 am – 12:30 pm
Coastal Expedition South’s Hunting Island Dolphin Cruise is fun for kids of all ages. This is a family-friendly ecotour that explores the estuary of the Story River where bottlenose dolphin flourish. While searching for dolphin, the tour also searches for bald eagles, ospreys, and other native birds of prey. Often their nests can be spotted as well. Brown pelicans, roseate spoonbills, wood storks, herons and egrets are sure to be spotted as well!
The on-board naturalist will also entertain visitors with stories of local history dating from American Indians to European settlers. Be sure to pack drinking water, binoculars, camera, and a windbreaker.
Looking for a private charter on the river? Coastal Expeditions South has a fleet of three boats ready to take you on a tour of the Beaufort area. An outing with family and friends can be easily arranged. A trip can be tailored around the needs and interests of your guests. Private tours can revolve around dolphins, local history, St. Phillip’s Island and more. You can even schedule a sunset cruise.
Private tours are available for booking year-round. Boat captains and mates are trained naturalists and gifted storytellers. Their knowledge of local history and wildlife is extensive and entertaining.
The ladies of the Lowcountry Tourism Commission were treated to a private tour of the Beaufort River. We departed from the downtown marina and headed toward Port Royal Sound. Along the way we were treated to visits by dolphins, snowy egrets, oyster catchers, double-crested cormorants, and a nesting osprey. Along the way, we were delighted with stories of history and nature by the talented and gifted Captain Henry Brandt. He is a natural-born storyteller and comedian, all rolled into one! His knowledge of the Lowcountry shoreline habitat is second to none! His tour was educational and entertaining, and I would definitely recommend his tour services to anyone looking to explore the natural wonder of Beaufort and her surrounding sea islands.
The Congaree Golf Club is the home of this 2021 PGA Tour event!
The Palmetto Championship, a PGA Tour event, will be held June 7-13 in Ridgeland at the Congaree Golf Club. This one-time event will fill the spot left open when the 2021 RBC Canadian Open was cancelled. This official FedEx Cup event will field 156 golfers.
Governor Henry McMaster recently announced the event and said, “South Carolina is open for business and we are proud to have the opportunity to take advantage of this unique opportunity. This nationally televised, elite tournament will give people from around the world a chance to see all that South Carolina has to offer and will jumpstart our tremendous tourism industry. We are grateful to the PGA Tour and Congaree’s owner, Dan Friedkin, for this opportunity to highlight our great state.”
The Congaree Golf Club was built on Davant Plantation. The original Greek Revival home on this historic property was burned in 1865 by Sherman’s troops. The circa 1820 that we see today was dismantled and transferred piece-by-piece to this site from a neighboring property that was also owned by the Davant family. This property was also the principal backdrop for scenes in the 1995 movie Something to Talk About. The club launched the Global Golf Initiative to target underprivileged high school students who are passionate about golf and show academic promise. They even built a schoolhouse on the property to prepare students for college admissions. Congaree’s Palmetto Championship joins the list of other 2021 significant tournaments in the state including the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head Island, the PGA Championship on Kiawah Island and Greenville’s annual BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation.
The 2021 Palmetto Championship at Congaree will be broadcast on CBS, Golf Channel and PGA TOUR LIVE, and internationally on GOLFTV powered by the PGA TOUR.
SC Lowcountry state parks offer excellent fishing opportunities!
It’s always a good time to go fishing in the South Carolina Lowcountry! We offer a true sportsman’s paradise! Our unique landscape provides many spots for anglers to prove their skills in both fresh and salt water. Our state parks are a great place to “catch the big one”, but don’t forget to pick up a valid South Carolina fishing license before dropping a line into the water.
Hunting Island State Park has five miles of beaches to fish, along with Johnson Creek, a salt-water lagoon, and an ocean inlet. Fish for trout, redfish, and flounder. Head over to the fishing pier at the southern tip of the park to try your luck. The pier extends 1,120 feet into the Fripp Inlet, where snapper, grouper and bigger varieties are found. Bait, equipment and other supplies can be purchased at the park store in the campground. The park also has a tackle loaner program. Rods and reels are available at the nature center for use on the pier. The park has a boat ramp that has access to both Harbor River and Fripp Inlet. Bring the camper and stay for a while in the beachfront campground. Hunting Island State Park 2555 Sea Island Pkwy Beaufort, SC 843-838-2011
Fish along the surf at Edisto Beach State Park or head over to the salt marsh. Flounder, whiting, redfish, and other saltwater fish can be caught here. Want to bring the boat? A boat ramp and dock with access to Big Bay Creek can be found in the park. Edisto Beach State Park also has a beachfront campground. Edisto Beach State Park 8377 State Cabin Road Edisto Island, SC 843-869-2156
Colleton State Park connects to Givhans Ferry State Park to offer 23 miles of freshwater, blackwater fishing. The park is conveniently located off Interstate 95 at Exit 68. A boat ramp is just ¼ miles away, with easy access to the Edisto River, one of the longest free flowing blackwater rivers in the country. Fish by boat or along the shore for bream, redbreast and catfish. The park is also the headquarters for the Edisto River Canoe and Kayak Trail. This park participates in the tackle loaner program. Rods and reels are available for loan at the park office. Colleton State Park also has a campground. Colleton State Park 147 Wayside Lane Walterboro, SC 843-538-8206
Lake Warren State Park is located in Hampton, SC. Lake Warren is a 200-acre lake that offers freshwater fishing and boating. Fish this freshwater lake for largemouth bass, brim, redbreast, crappie, and catfish. The lake has two different boat ramps for boats with 10 horsepower motors. Jon boats are also available for rent year-round. Boats come complete with trolling motor, life jackets and paddles. Rentals are available through the park ranger. The lake also has a fishing dock. Lake Warren State Park 1079 Lake Warren Road Hampton, SC 803-943-5051
Looking for more fishing opportunities? We have marinas, and multiple charter fishing services. Have your own boat? We have 31 boat ramps in both fresh and salt water, fishing piers and artificial reefs. Fishing in South Carolina is popular year-round for fresh water, large mouth, red-breast, and catfish. The salt-water species vary from trout, redfish and flounder inshore to marlin, dolphin, king mackerel, snapper, grouper and much more offshore. Choose from a half dozen rivers, a beautiful little lake, or a great big ocean. Like shell fish? Catch your own shrimp and crabs, or dig clams and harvest oysters.
Looking for a dog-friendly place to commune with nature? Widgeon Point Preserve is Beaufort County’s newest passive park. Here you’ll find 162 acres of mixed pine-hardwood forest, maritime forest, and salt marsh along the Broad River. Located on Lemon Island, off Hwy 170, the preserve is co-owned by Beaufort County and the Beaufort County Open Land Trust.
Sidewalks lead from the paved parking lot to a picnic pavilion, a bird blind, and an event barn. A 0.7-mile hiking loop travels the perimeter of the adjacent hummock island. The loop is a wide, flat nature trail that travels through pines, palms, and oak trees. Views of the river can be seen from several different vantage points.
The preserve is a great spot for picnicking, hiking, and wildlife viewing. There’s even a water fountain that is equipped for dogs. While hiking, keep a keen eye for white-tailed deer, bald eagles, fox squirrels and wading birds. Alligators have also been seen in the fresh-water ponds, so be careful to keep the dogs away from the water’s edge.
The various coastal habitats of Widgeon Point Preserve support a rich diversity of wildlife and plants. Visitors have extraordinary opportunities to observe the natural beauty of the Lowcountry. The preserve is open daily, from dawn to dusk.
Widgeon Point Preserve 43 Okatie Hwy, Beaufort, SC
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The Lowcountry & Resort Islands Region of South Carolina includes the four, southern-most counties in the state, Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton, and Colleton, which are bordered on the east by the Atlantic Ocean and on the west by the Savannah River and the state of Georgia.