Buck Hall Recreation Area
Just six miles southeast of McClellanville, Buck Hall is on the Intracoastal Waterway and provides waterway access to the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. Buck Hall has a boat ramp, RV and tent camping, along with a picnic area, and is a Francis Marion National Forest Facility. Located on Buckhall Landing Road. More information. 843-887-3257
Buck Hall Running Trail
The 2-mile course at Buck Hall Recreation Area is designed for hard surface training. The trail offers expansive views of the Intracoastal Waterway and Bulls Bay, and includes a small portion of the Palmetto Trail. Located on Buckhall Landing Road.
Bulls Island was named after Stephen Bull, an English settler. Bull and his ship, the Carolina, initially landed here on Bulls before they famously settled at Charles Towne Landing. The Bay surrounding the island soon became known by the same name, and is full of Native American history, pirate lore, and magnificent natural resources thanks to the preserved lands of the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge and the Francis Marion National Forest. Public access is at Buck Hall Recreation Area and Garris Landing.
Bulls Bay Historic Passage
Bulls Bay Historic Passage refers to the mostly untouched swath of land in between Mount Pleasant and Georgetown, protected through the Cape Romain National Widlife Refuge and the Francis Marion National Forest. This is the really wild side of Charleston, with amazing outdoor recreation opportunities and historic resources that are unparalleled. Bulls Bay is named after an English settler Stephen Bull (who named Bulls Island after himself) and the bay surrounding it soon was known by the same.
This undeveloped barrier island is the largest (5,000 acres to be exact) within the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. The natural habitats here are extremely diverse and include maritime forest, brackish and fresh water impoundments, salt marsh, and sandy beaches. The lush environment is home to tons of wildlife, and is especially famous for birds (over 290 species have been recorded in or around here). Better yet, there are plenty of trails in place that will guide you through this hidden jewel of an island. Before it was protected by being included in the refuge, it was known as a hideout for pirates and eventually a hunting preserve for a New York banker in the 1920s.
Bulls Island is accessible by ferry through Coastal Expeditions, which also offers several ways to experience the island including kayak tours, overnight events, charters, and field study groups. Or visit the island on your own using your own kayak, canoe or motorized boat.
Accessible by boat via Buck Hall Recreation Area or the Robert Ashley Boat Landing in McClellanville, this island is open to the public. Certain areas are closed during nesting seasons of sea turtles and seabirds.
Capers Island State Heritage Preserve
Capers Island is a classic, undeveloped barrier Island nestled between Dewees Island and Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. The heritage preserve is about three miles from the mainland and is about three miles long and one mile in width. There are 850 acres of maritime uplands, 214 acres of front beach, 1,090 acres of salt marsh and over 100 acres of brackish water impoundments. The island has diverse habitats and abundant wildlife, which can be observed on the McCaskill Trail, a favorite for birders and hikers. Fishing and primitive tent camping are also available here by permit from the SC Department of Natural Resources. More information.
Latitude: 32.852 Longitude: -79.697
A freshwater island in between the north and south branches of the Santee River. It can be accessed through the Santee Coastal Reserve or out of McClellanville. Primitive camping is available here with a permit from SCDNR.
Deerhead Oak spills shade in the corner of a large green space in the heart of McClellanville. It came by its name because a few of its larger branches form the shape of a deer’s head crowned with antlers. The live oak has guarded the fishing village since … well, since it became a village. It’s said to be larger in circumference that the more famous Angel Oak on Johns Island south of Charleston. It was designated the 2007 Heritage Tree of the Year by the SC Urban and Community forestry Council. And it’s only one of the massive old Oaks whose broad canopies cast cool shadows.
East Coast Greenway
Connecting almost 3,000 miles of the East Coast from Maine to Florida, the East Coast Greenway encompasses the coastal area of South Carolina. More information.
El Dorado Plantation
Once a successful rice plantation, El Dorado now sits in ruins on land that is part of the Santee Coastal Reserve. The house was originally built in 1797 and burned in 1897. Remnants of the plantation house can be found at the reserve, but it’s best to obtain a guided tour. Nature Adventures Outfitters, Inc offers those tours.
Elmwood Recreation Area
Primitive campsite in the northeastern portion of the Francis Marion National Forest. It is popular during deer and turkey hunts on the Waterhorn Hunt Unit, and also serves as a South Carolina Department of Natural Resources game check station during big-game hunting season.
Directions: From Charleston, take US Highway 17 north past McClellanville to Rutledge Road. Turn left onto Rutledge Road and drive four miles to Elmwood Recreation Area. More information.
Garris Landing Pier
Within the Cape Romain Wildlife Refuge, Garris Landing has a boat landing, fishing pier, and is the location of departure when headed to Bulls Island and the lower portion of the refuge. 498 Bulls Island Road.
Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor
A congressionally designated National Heritage Area, the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor celebrates the people of the Lowcountry and Sea Islands of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. More information.
Halfway Creek Campground
Located on Halfway Creek near Steed Road, this is a primitive campsite that is free and does not require a permit. For more information contact the US Forest Service at 843-336-3248.
Honey Hill Recreation Area
A primitive (and free!) US Forest Service camping facility located between McClellanville and Honey Hill. A short camp loop swings through an upland pine/oak forest and encircles a fire lookout tower. 3533 French Santee Road. For more information contact the US Forest Service at 843-336-3248.
McClellanville Running Trail
A hard surface trail through the village of McClellanville, which starts at the town park and goes for a three mile loop past the historic streets and shrimp docks on Jeremy Creek. Contact the town for more information, 843-887-3712.
McClellanville Town Park
Adjacent to the Robert E. Ashley Landing is the McClellanville Town Park, which features a playground, picnic tables, a bandstand, and the nearby Village Museum. The McClellanville Run/Walk Trail passes through this park as well.
McConnells offers a paved boat ramp for launching on the Santee River. Located on a high bluff overlooking the river, it’s a popular place to camp primitive (permit needed) and to explore the area by kayak or canoe (Nature Adventures Outfitters offers kayak rentals and tours). Landing on the Santee River, no fishing piers or courtesy docks. 15 parking spaces.
Latitude: 33.24512 Longitude: -79.52085
Along with Cedar Island, Murphy Island is part of the Santee Coastal Reserve. It was part of former rice fields that are now benefitting the breeding, migratory and wintering waterfowl, shorebirds, and wading birds. Primitive camping is available with a permit.
Old King’s Highway
Charles II of England directed colonial governors to build it in the late 1600s, ultimately connecting the original 13 colonies. By the 1750s, the route was usable by wagons and played a pivotal role in trade and Revolutionary War efforts. Rumor has it that American patriots despised the name “King’s Highway” and called it the Boston Post Road. Today, portions of Old King’s Highway in the Bulls Bay area can be visited at places like the Wambaw Church.
1705 is the earliest known date of existence for Pointe Plantation, which eventually fell into the hands of Archibald McClellan in 1771. In the mid 1850s McClellan, along with Richard Tilia Morrison II of Laurel Hill Plantation, began selling their lots near the creek to planters, and the village of McClellanville was born.
Robert E. Ashley Landing
Located in the center of historic McClellanville next to the local park, this boat landing on Jeremy Creek just off the Intracoastal Waterway has two piers with amazing views, several signs and markers with visitor information, and the Lowcountry Seaman’s Memorial placed in memory of those who lost their lives while working in the waters of South Carolina. Fees for usage apply. 405 Pinckney Street. Call the town of McClellanville for more information, 843-887-3712.
Santee Coastal Reserve
A 24,000-acre Wildlife Management Area that includes two barrier islands (Cedar Island and Murphy Island) that are accessible by boat, The Cape, and Washo Reserve. The reserve has a total of four trails, and a boardwalk into a freshwater swamp. The land was previously Eldorado and Ormond Hall plantations, and some ruins can still be found on the property. 220 Santee Club Road. 843-546-8665
Santee Coastal Reserve (Hiking/Biking Trail)
Located within the Santee Coastal Reserve, this trail is a 7.2 mile leisurely loop on sandy roads and over grass covered dikes through and around 4,000 of brackish water impoundment. You will ride approximately .7 miles on the Marshland Trail to a gate where the bike/hike trail officially begins. An 800-foot boardwalk along this section provides access to the Washo Reserve to view an amazing array of wildlife. Restrooms are available near the Marshland trailhead.
Photo courtesy of Ben Sumrell Photography
One of the largest rivers on the East Coast, the Santee stretches 143 miles and is formed by the confluence of the Wateree and the Congaree Rivers just below Columbia before entering Lake Marion, which was created by a dam on the Santee River in the 1940s. It is named for the Santee Native American tribe who lived along its banks before the Yemassee War and were known as “The River People.” During the late 1600s, a group of French Huguenots established a “French Santee” settlement they called Jamestown. The river flows southeast and forms the northeast boundary of the Francis Marion National Forest. It branches into two parallel channels about ten miles before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean. These two channels are separated by Cedar Island, which is part of the Santee Coastal Reserve. Can be accessed by McConnells Landing. Tours and rentals offered here by Nature Adventures Outfitters.
Sewee Shell Ring Trail
Though the landscape of this particular site has suffered damage from hurricanes and wildfires, this one-mile trail still offers a unique opportunity for hiking and exploration. The trail guides you to the Sewee Shell Ring, which is an ancient pile of discarded shells from Native Americans dating back over 4,000 years ago. It is now on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the best preserved of similar shell rings found along the East Coast. Another spur trail leads to a mound of clamshells, and there are five interpretive stops and a 120-foot boardwalk and overlook. More information.
Great for saltwater fishing in shallow boats. Access is out of Gadsdenville Landing in Mount Pleasant. Close to Capers Island State Heritage Preserve, it makes for a perfect place to explore while visiting Capers.
The Sewee (or Seewee) Native American tribe called the Bulls Bay area home for over 4,000 years. When English settlers landed here in 1670, the tribe welcomed them with food and supplies. By 1715, the relationship went south and the Sewee joined the Yemassee to fight the English. Most of the Sewees were killed, and surviving members were caught and sent to the Caribbean as slaves.
South Carolina National Heritage Corridor
A National Heritage Area since 1996, the South Carolina National Heritage Corridor promotes and preserves historic, natural, and cultural resources in a 17-county area. The corridor has designated tourism sites, including the Center for Birds of Prey and Hampton Plantation in the Bulls Bay area. The Bulls Bay Historic Chamber of Commerce exists in this corridor. More information.
A public boat ramp located in the Wambaw Creek Wilderness Area in the Francis Marion National Forest on Wambaw Creek. No fishing piers or courtesy docks, and parking is limited in this remote area. However, it makes a great location for paddlers on this nationally recognized kayak and canoe trail.
Latitude: 33.1774 Longitude: -79.4967
Wambaw Swamp, photo courtesy of Nature Adventures Outfitters, Inc
Now part of the Francis Marion National Forest, Tibwin was once a plantation that grew sea island cotton, corn and potatoes. The plantation house structure is still on site and stabilized, but the Forest Service hopes to fully restore it in the future. The public can enjoy the grounds of Tibwin through the numerous hiking trails. Tours offered by Nature Adventures Outfitters.
Tibwin Running Trail
A wooded trail system within the Francis Marion National Forest, the three-mile course is marked at 1/2 mile intervals and begins and ends at the parking area. The trail traverses pine woods, freshwater ponds, and brackish marshes of former plantation lands. Use caution during hunting seasons.
Wambaw Creek Wilderness Area Canoe Trail
A tributary of the South Santee River, Wambaw Creek is a total of 11 miles long. Within it is a nationally recognized kayak and canoe trail encompassing 9 miles of pristine wilderness. The creek passes the vast swamps of Francis Marion National Forest where you can see abandoned canals and rice field dikes and dull loblolly pine forest. Paddlers can access Wambaw Creek at Still Landing or Echaw 204 Bridge Landing.
Wambaw Cycle Trail
A figure-eight motorcycle and OHV trail, this sandy course traverses pine woods and hardwoods in the understory. Along the way riders can glimpse vernal ponds with bald cypress as well as turkeys and white-tailed deer. While the trail is designed for motorcycles, it can accommodate OHVs under 50 inches wide. Jeeps, Hummers and other 4×4 vehicles are not permitted. The Wambaw Cycle Trail and the trailhead are maintained with collected fees. This trail may be closed on short notice to prevent resource damage. To check trail status, call the OHV Hotline (803) 561-4025 for up-to-date information.
A 1,040-acre natural area owned by the Nature Conservancy and is part of the Santee Coastal Reserve. The reserve features a 200 year-old cypress lake and cypress-gum swamp, which harbors the oldest wading bird rookery in continuous use in North America. In the 1700s, Joseph Blake operated the land as a plantation growing cotton, rice, and indigo. After the Civil War, the Santee Gun Club was founded here as a hunting reservation. Today the public can enjoy the Washo Reserve through the Marshland Loop trail. Tours offered by Nature Adventures Outfitters.
Photo courtesy of Nature Adventures Outfitters