Burkes Beach - Hiking

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Summary

Burkes Beach is an islander’s favorite, being a good place to avoid the “packed sardine” feeling of more popular beaches like Coligny beach. It also plays host to “The Folly” where at high tide ocean water flows into a salt water marsh creating a temporary creek that is ripe for exploration.

Written by

Zach Bjur

Distance

3.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

4.4 miles

Difficulty

1 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

2 hours

1 - 2 hours

Seasonality

All Seasons

Dog Friendly

Yes

Fees Permits

No

Land Website

Burkes Beach Hiking

Review

Intro

Burkes Beach is an islander’s favorite, being a good place to avoid the “packed sardine” feeling of more popular beaches like Coligny beach. It also plays host to “The Folly” where at high tide ocean water flows into a salt water marsh creating a temporary creek that is ripe for exploration. Before you get to the beach, there is a small trail that winds through the maritime forest butting up to The Folly. It is a unique place where forest meets marsh, meets beach and when on Hilton Head it is worth a visit.

What Makes It Great

The trail is mainly used by locals as a way to access isolated fishing spots, you won’t see anything advertising its location or even its existence. This makes it a hidden gem, and while it’s not a large gem it’s a pretty one. In all, the trails comprise only a .3 mile loop, but within that loop you will travel through pine forests, marshland, and sandy beach trails. After snaking through the forest, the trail leads you to the tidal creek known as The Folly. 

At low tide there is a lot of ground exposed and more room to explore, making that the best time to go. Be careful where you walk, however, there are large tracts of “pluff mud” (a soft gooey marsh mud) that you can sink into like quick sand. After you’ve had your share of exploring you can follow the sandy trail that runs between the forest and the dunes back to where you began. If you’re feeling very adventurous you can attempt to follow one of the many narrow game trails that criss-cross the main trail. These are made by white tail deer that go to the marsh to forage. If you make that choice, be sure to check yourself for ticks when you’re done. Or prepare in advance and wear bug spray.

Who is Going to Love It

This trail is best for people who want to follow up a small hike with some surfing or relaxing on Burkes Beach afterwards. It is not long enough to constitute a stand-alone adventure but due to the diverse range of habitats it traverses in such a short time it is a worthy experience for those who enjoy nature. If you can’t convince the rest of your group to join you on a hike, you can kill two birds with one stone and get a small hike in with enough time to enjoy a day at the beach.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

Burkes Beach is located at the end of Burkes Beach Road located between Marriot Surf Watch and Chaplain Park. Parking is limited so if you are unable to find a spot on Burkes Beach Road there is plenty of parking in Chaplain Park. Once you’ve reached the end of the pavement on Burkes Beach Road, right before the beach access path begins, look to right and you will see the trail leading into the woods beyond the parking spaces. Follow the unpaved path and you’ll soon find yourself at The Folly.

Location

Burkes Beach

48 Burkes Beach Rd
Hilton Head, SC, 29928
32.194001, -80.697659

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