Sixteen miles from Beaufort, South Carolina is Hunting Island State Park. 5,000 acres of protected land make up this barrier island, lush with more than 4 miles of pristine beach and maritime forest. Not only is there something to do for everyone on Hunting Island, but the park is also well maintained for the enjoyment of those who want to experience many miles of trails, which make their way around a lagoon, the beach, and Sable Palmettos all in the same stretch.
For hikers and trail runners, this park has a lot to offer. Hunting Island is laced with trails that all offer something a little different, but all are equally beautiful. The trails in the park are comprised of either dirt, sand, boardwalk or crushed oyster shells, and have extremely minimal elevation gain. Some of the longer trails in the park are the Magnolia Forest Trail (1.2 miles), the Lagoon Access Trail (1.4 miles) and the Diamond Rattlesnake Trail (2.3 miles). The Lagoon Access Trail travels along the park’s lagoon, which is filled with wildlife and natural beauty. The Diamond Rattlesnake Trail offers a moderately strenuous hike, for those who want to get the muscles burning. The Marsh Boardwalk (.35 miles) connects the Diamond Rattlesnake trail and the Lagoon Access Recreation Trail, and gives you a glimpse of the southern marshland. If you would like to travel up into the sky, the Lighthouse Nature Trail (.4 miles) takes you to the Hunting Island Lighthouse and up 130 feet over the beach. And lastly, make sure to check out the beach, the most natural of all of the trails.
What Makes it Great
Hunting Island is one of the most popular parks in South Carolina, and for good reason. Untouched beach, a gorgeous lagoon, and the longest free standing pier of the East Coast makes this park an attraction for everyone. This, combined with miles of great trails means Hunting Island is a one-stop-shop for the family and for the lone outdoorsman. Pets are also allowed in the camping area, as long as the leash is 6ft. or less. Don’t let Fido miss out on the fun.
What You Will Remember
You will remember the sunrise over the ocean, or perhaps the loggerhead seaturtle you saw laying her eggs on the beach. The leisurely hike through the Wax Myrtles and the Yaupon Holly Trees. The hike that took you up the lighthouse and into the sky. Any of these experiences are for the taking at Hunting Island State Park. It’s just about which one you choose.
Who is Going to Love It<
From the hiker or trail runner who just wants a bit of solitude in nature, to the family who wants a get-away from the city, this park is accessible to all. There are endless opportunities for pictures here, from the wildlife to the panoramic views of the lighthouse. And if you decide that one day is not enough to explore all the beauty of the area, pitch a tent or pull an RV up to the campsites. They offer picnic tables, restrooms, showers, and drinking water for all guests of the park. In the warmer months don’t forget the bug-spray and the sunscreen, a must for Charleston most of the year.
Trailhead, Parking, and Hours
To access Hunting Island State Park, travel on Highway 21 East until it ends at the park. There is a fee of $5/adults, $3/children, and several parking lots within Hunting Island. Many trails begin at parking lot “J”, so that would be the one to look for if you’re wanting to hop on a trail. The lighthouse admission is $2/person and hours of the park are 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. (9 p.m. during daylight savings time). For further information, call the Hunting Island State Park office: 843-838-2011 or visit the South Carolina State Parks website.