The 3 Best Hiking and Camping Locations in South Carolina

Published: June 5th 2017
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Have you considered hiking in South Carolina? With such impressive biodiversity, the Palmetto State is a hiker's paradise. Don't let inclement weather put you off the best hiking trails in the nation. Slip on your toughest pants and your windbreakers or jackets and explore the whole of this beautiful state from the mountains of the upstate to the lowlands of the coast. Three wonderful locations you may consider visiting for a memorable hike are: Forty Acre Rock Heritage Preserve, Congaree National Park, and Audobon’s Francis-Beidler Forest.

Forty Acre Rock Heritage Preserve

Since gold was first discovered in Kershaw in 1825, people have flocked to the town to exploit the treasures provided by the local igneous rocks. In the Forty Acre Rock Heritage Preserve you'll find another treasure of the local geology—a huge granite boulder that covers approximately 14 acres. From atop this massive outcropping you can see sweeping views of the 2,267-acre park. The surrounding preserve contains a unique and fragile ecosystem, home to many rare plants, such as Puck's oprine and open ground Whitlow grass. There is also an abundance of birds, so this location is ideal for bird lovers. Be sure to bring some binoculars to get a good view!

Sadly, there's nowhere to camp legally within the preserve, no restrooms, and no stores, so prepare well before setting off for a memorable hike through a diverse landscape.

Congaree National Park

Midway between Charlotte and Charleston you'll find Congaree National Park. This must-see location includes the largest example of old growth bottomland hardwood forest in the US. There are many well-trodden hiking trails around this popular park, but the real attraction for most hikers is the Boardwalk Loop. This is a 2.4 mile walkway raised above the swamp to allow hikers to pass through this protected location without damaging the delicate fungi and plant life below their feet.

If you fancy a longer hike, the 11.1-mile-long King Snake Trail takes you through wilderness where you can see opossums, raccoons, deer and even occasionally bobcats. Given the damp environment around this swampy park, you'd be well advised to wear hiking pants and slip on a high-quality rain jacket .

Audobon’s Francis-Beidler Forest

Closer to Charleston you'll find Audobon’s Francis-Beidler Forest . There you can enjoy a hike you'll remember for the rest of your life, following the 1.75-mile trail along the boardwalk constructed to take you on a journey over the unique blackwater creek system. This is a well-preserved, biologically diverse and dynamic river floodplain ecosystem. Water from the Congaree and Wateree Rivers periodically wash through the park's floodplain, leaving behind sediments and nutrients that feed and revitalize this special swamp.

The surrounding wildlife sanctuary encloses 16,000 acres of cypress and tupelo gum hardwood forest and swamp. Some trees you'll see there are over a thousand years old! The forest is extremely popular with birdwatchers, and there's wildlife of all types in the sanctuary. However, the memorable image you'll probably take away with you will be the cypress knees standing proudly out of the water.

You will really enjoy your memorable hike through, or more often over, the swamps of South Carolina, but do make sure you prepare well for the wilderness and those long hikes with sturdy, well-fitting boots, suitable pants, and, of course, wear a decent jacket. Swamps are not dry locations!


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