Wildlife Preserves and Nature Tourism Trails in Lowcountry
“Take only pictures, leave only footprints”
South Carolina Lowcountry Wildlife Preserves, Nature Trails and Sights
Read our blog on hiking in the SC Lowcountry.
The ACE Trail
The Historic Ace Trail is located on a three acre site about 2 miles north of the intersection of US Hwy 17 and SC Hwy 303 in Colleton County. It is adjacent a CSX rail crossing in the Green Pond community. The trail is ideal for walking, biking, general exercise and bird watching.
Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge
The Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge helps protect the largest undeveloped estuary along the Atlantic Coast. Located on a former rice plantation, the area is home to a wide variety of wildlife. The refuge office is located in the Grove Plantation house. Built in 1828, it is one of a few surviving antebellum mansions in the ACE Basin area. (404)679-4000
Audubon Newhall Preserve
55 Palmetto Bay Rd, Hilton Head Island.
Hilton Head’s Audubon Newhall Preserve is open to the public at no charge from dawn to dusk daily.
It has a series of short, easy walking trails through the fifty-acre preserve. Pick up a trail guide at the entrance which will guide you through a wide variety of trees and plants, from Florida Scrub to native hardwoods. (843)785-5775
Bear Island Wildlife Management Area
Colleton County. (843)844-2952. Mon.-Sat.,
The Bear Island Wildlife Management Area is managed to provide quality habitat for wintering waterfowl and other wetland wildlife including threatened and endangered species such as woodstorks and bald eagles; to provide habitat for upland game and nongame species; and to provide recreational opportunities for the hunting and nonhunting public. Open Feb. 9th – Oct. 31st. Sunrise to sunset. Located between the Ashepoo and South Edisto Rivers, off US Hwy 17 and approx. 2 miles east of Green Pond. Regulated hunting.
Blue Heron Nature Trail
Jasper County. (843)726-7611
Walking tour of Lowcountry Wetlands.
This 10-acre green space boasts the Blue Heron Nature Trail, a quarter-mile trail around a three-acre pond, and a quarter-mile of boardwalk through forested wetlands. The property also includes a butterfly garden, picnic area, outdoor classroom, observation decks and a Learning Center. Trailside displays help visitors learn more about the native flora and fauna of Jasper County and the Lowcountry. Exit 21, Ridgeland, (843)726-7611
Botany Bay Plantation Wildlife Management Area
The 4,360.5 acre Botany Bay Plantation Wildlife Management Area is located adjacent to the waters of the Atlantic Ocean in the southeast corner of Edisto Island. The area’s location near the North Edisto river places it within the boundary of the ACE Basin Focus Area, one of the largest remaining relatively undeveloped wetland ecosystems along the Atlantic Coast. (843) 869-2713.
Coastal Discovery Museum of Hilton Head Island
Discover and explore the wonders of the South Carolina Lowcountry at the Coastal Carolina Discovery Museum. Take a leisurely stroll around the museum’s 68-acre property. Trails include the sea shell nature trail which leads to Jarvis Creek, and the camellia garden with its 120 different varieties of bloom and color. Visit the region’s only native butterfly enclosure and experience the life cycle of the local butterfly population. (843)689-6767
Colleton State Park Nature Trail
Conveniently located just five minutes off I-95, Colleton State Park’s Cypress Swamp Trail is a great place to stretch your legs and enjoy the SC Lowcountry. Pick up a self-guided nature brochure for this short, level, easy walking, loop trail. Numbered signs will help you identify a variety of trees and plants including cypress, poplar, hickory, sweetgum, maple, dogwood, birch, and magnolia. You can follow the canoe dock board walk spur trail to the dark water of Edisto River. Watch for a variety of birds, deer, turtles, snakes and other wildlife. Other amenities include a campground and picnic shelters.
Crystal Lake Park
Crystal Lake Park is a 25-acre park winds through forested habitats, salt marsh and around Crystal Lake. The park has many opportunities for visitors to learn about the Lowcountry’s natural resources. Walk the trail or visit the interpretative center. Catch and release fishing can be done from the docks.
Cypress Wetlands Walking Trail
Paris Avenue, Port Royal
Come to the Cypress Wetlands Walking Trail to view abundant populations of native wildlife. The forests, fresh and saltwater marshes, cypress swamps, and ponds provide habitat for a diverse community, including over two hundred species of birds. The highest species diversity can be seen in the winter. Several species of wading birds including Egrets and herons can be seen nesting in the Rookery as well. (843)986-2211
Cypress Creek Wildlife Management Area
4605 acres northwest of Grays between Highways 3 and 278. Deer, wild turkey and small game. Regulated hunting. (843)726-6775
Donnelley Wildlife Management Area
With more than 8,000 acres of diverse habitats, Donnelley Wildlife Management Area is a favorite Lowcountry destination for bird watchers. Located in Green Pond on land once used for rice cultivation, the property features a historic rice field system now managed to attract waterfowl and other migratory birds. Donnelley is part of the ACE Basin ecosystem and is one of 17 SC sites designated a global Important Bird Area by the Audubon Society. An 11-mile driving tour of the property takes you to some of the best spots to see the variety of birds and other wildlife. (843)844-8957
Edisto Beach State Park Trails
Edisto Beach State Park has seven different trails that lead explorers through the maritime forest and along Bib Bay Creek. The Spanish Moss Trail takes hikers on a four mile walk to one of South Carolina’s oldest Native American shell mounds, (843)869-4430
Edisto Island Serpentarium
1374 Hwy. 174, (843)869-1171.
The Edisto Island Serpenterium features snakes, alligator pits, turtles, lizards. You can view these beautiful creatures in both indoor and outdoor facilities. alligators and turtles swim and play in outdoor ponds in outdoor gardens, while other reptiles bask in the large indoor solarium.
Edisto River Canoe & Kayak Trail
The Edisto River Canoe and Kayak Trail is a recreational gem comprised of a series of access sites and points of interest along a 62-mile stretch of the Edisto River’s Main Stem. The trail starts at Green Pond Church Landing and meanders eastward past Colleton State Park. At roughly the halfway point in the trail, the river passes Givhans Ferry State Park. The trail officially ends at Lowndes Landing. With ample camping and access throughout its length, the Edisto River Canoe and Kayak Trail offers a variety of single and multi-day trips for all ability levels.
Hunting Island State Park Trails
Hunting Island State Park attracts more than a million visitors a year. Five miles of pristine beach, thousands of acres of marsh and maritime forest, a saltwater lagoon and ocean inlet are all part of the park’s natural allure. The park has eight different trails to explore, winding through the beach, forest and along Johnson Creek. Visitors can view a vast array of land and marine wildlife. (843)838-2011
James M. Waddell, Jr. Mariculture Research and Development Center
211 Sawmill Creek Rd. off Hwy. 278.
The James M. Waddell, Jr. Mariculture Research and Development Center is one of the largest facilities in the world for fish and shrimp farming and mariculture potential. By appointment only, (843)837-3795
Lake Warren State Park Walking Trails
Hampton’s Lake Warren State Park has three trails for outdoor enthusiasts. The Nature Trail winds through the woods and around the fishing pond. The Fitness Trail has 10 exercise stations. The Yemassee Trail follows a path along Lake Warren. Interpretive signs are placed throughout.
Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge
Off Hwy 278 past Graves Bridge, Hilton Head Island.
4,052 acres that preserve the salt marsh and maritime habitat. Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge offers a variety of opportunities to explore and enjoy the great outdoors from sunrise to sunset every day. You can observe and photograph wildlife, go fishing, or during the season, hunt white-tailed deer.
Sands Beach Rd, Port Royal
The Henry Robinson Boardwalk along Port Royal’s Battery Creek is a great place for a stroll. Enjoy the wildlife while walking along the vast waterway. Located on the southern tip of Port Royal, Battery Creek flows into the Beaufort River. Search for shark’s teeth on the sandy beach. Boats and kayaks can be launched from a ramp into the river. The boardwalk is a popular place for strolling, crabbing and fishing. An observation tower is located near the end of the boardwalk.
Savannah National Wildlife Refuge
The Savannah National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center and nature trail is located on Hwy 17, north of the Georgia border, near Hardeeville. The 3-mile drive through old rice field dikes can be accessed via Hwy 170. The refuge is home to over 7,000 acres of wetlands flora and fauna. There are also over 40 miles of hiking and biking trails for your enjoyment.
Sea Pines Forest Preserve
Hilton Head Island
The Sea Pines Forest Preserve is a protected area for wildlife habitat and outdoor exploration. The preserve includes bridle paths, wetland boardwalks, bridges and fishing docks. Explorers can choose from guided boat tours, horseback rides, fishing expeditions, or wagon tours, or simply pick up a map and stroll the trails independently. (843) 785-3333
Tillman Sand Ridge Wildlife Management Area
Located 5 miles west of Tillman on Hwy 119. The Tillman Sand Ridge Wildlife Management Area is a 952-acre tract protects the endangered Gopher Tortoise. The preserve also protects more than a half mile of frontage on the Savannah River. Trail access can be found just before the boat ramp at B & C Landing.
Turtle Island Wildlife Management Area
Turtle Island Wildlife Management Area can be reached by boat access only between Daufuskie Island and Savannah. 1700 acres of salt marsh, maritime forest and barrier beach. The beach is an important foraging and resting area for migratory shorebirds as well as a known nesting area for beach-nesting shorebirds. By appointment only. Regulated hunting.
Walterboro Wildlife Sanctuary
Walterboro, Detreville St,
Comprosed of over 800 acres of braided creek and hardwood flats. The Walterboro Wildlife Sanctuary offers boardwalks, bridges, bike and walking trails for viewing natural Lowcountry wildlife and beauty. Spanish Moss drips from Cypress trees and wildflowers abound as you pass a beaver pond, duck pond and butterfly garden. (843)538-4353
Webb Wildlife Management Area
Hampton County. (803)625-3569,
Webb Wildlife Management Area is located off Hwy. 321, bordering the historical Savannah River. The 25,000+ acres provide excellent viewing of deer, wild turkeys, bobwhite quail, gray squirrel and many types of birds. Several nature trails. Ponds available for fishing. Regulated hunting.
Westvaco Nature Trail
Colleton County. (843)871-5000, Jacksonboro
The Westvaco Nature Trail is located within the ACE Basin. Hikers can choose between a short or long looped trail. The scenic trail offers several historic features including an old phosphate operation, an old canal, rice fields, and an old railroad tram, all along the historic King’s Highway.