After you've visited the greatest-hits that every nature loving Charlestonian should know, a wealth of destinations remain to be enjoyed in just an afternoon. Hopefully you’ve been to Middleton and Magnolia Plantations,
Cypress Gardens, Mepkin Abbey,
and our wonderful Brookgren Gardens county parks. Now get off the beaten track on these
couldn't-be-closer road trips.
A walk in the woods. Stretch your legs at the informative and nearby I’On Swamp Trail in the
. Just a few minutes north of Francis
Marion Forest ,
this one mile walk is easy enough for children.
The well maintained path crosses embankments built by slaves in the
1700’s. Interpretive signs tell of when Mt. Pleasant South Carolina produced
90% of the country’s rice and the Charleston Gold variety was world renown. Today,
the area is home to river otters, a myriad of birds, alligators and
turtles. It’s free and always open.
Up for something a little longer? The most beautiful trail in the forest begins nearby at the Awendaw Canoe Launch at the end ofThe perfect bike ride: About an hour out of town, just north of McClellanville, is the Santee Coastal Reserve. If you have a mountain or beach bike, it was made for this place. A bird watcher’s paradise, the 24,000 acre reserve offers trails on the former rice fields and through maritime forests bordering the Intracoastal Waterway and
Rosa Green Road
in Awendaw and runs seven miles to Buck Hall Landing. Take out of towners here if you want them to
move to Charleston.
It’s a walk right into a Pat Conroy novel.
You’ll enjoy extensive vistas of the marsh as the trail undulates
through the forest and back towards Awendaw Creek. Trailside benches invite quiet
contemplation. The Buck Hall end has
the advantage of bathrooms and a picnic area but the Rosa Green end is closer
to . This
Awendaw Passage is seven miles of the Palmetto Trail which extends over 400
miles from Buck Hall to the S.C. mountains and has many segments that are worth
exploring. Buck Hall charges a small
user fee and the trail is open all year. Trail map. Mt. Pleasant
A sunny winter day is perfect for a trip to
and a walk or bike ride upon
the dike. Looking across the open lake
vista, you might imagine you’re in Lake Moultrie Italy
or somewhere else exotic but a few miles later you’ll be back in the Deep South
at enjoying a great seafood
lunch. Start at the Canal Recreation
Area off Hwy. 52 north of Moncks Corner where you’ll go through a short stretch
of pine forest before you scramble onto the dike. Simply ride or walk along as
far as you’d like and circle back. Maps for the Palmetto Trail. Bonneau Beach
Or explore from you car. Fifty miles south of
Charleston is Botany Bay Wildlife Management Area. Whether you drive, bike or hike
the scenic 6 ½ miles you’ll transverse forests, agricultural fields and coastal
wetlands while stopping at the fifteen points of interest described on a map
given at the entrance. Learn about the
history and agriculture and stroll the surreal driftwood covered beach. Highlights
include the grounds of Bleak Hall Plantation with its picturesque ice house and
tabby shed. Volunteers man the entrance and beach path, making sure no one
takes any seashells but there’s no entrance fee.
Water adventures are plentiful too. My favorites are with Coastal Expeditions which offers guided and independent kayak excursions from Shem Creek and the spectacular Bull’s Island Ferry trip which is not to be missed. Or check out Barrier Island Eco Tours which leaves from the Isle of Palms. Marine scientists will introduce you to new discoveries on the way to
or scouting for dolphins. Capers Island
Watery highlights for me this year were my boat trips with Captain Richard’s Fisheagle Tours A relaxing and informative day of cruisingMany of these day trips require very little planning. You can wake up with some time to spare, check the weather and go. Most are free. You don’t need a hotel reservation and you can drive yourselves there. So what are you waiting for? There are adventures at your doorstep.
was a perfect summer outing. The views were wonderful and Captain Richard
shared his extensive knowledge of fish, birds and history with us. In October I
cruised through the Pinopolis Dam and up the Lake Marion with him. What a spectacle to go through the locks on a
boat! A bonus was that the tour leaves
from Gilligan’s Restaurant in Moncks Corner where we had a great waterside
lunch afterwards. Tail Race Canal