Combahee Unit of ACE Basin Trail Running

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Summary

This trail is perfect for a shorter trail run, or if you’re looking to go further take another lap. This trail is akin to running through the jungle in some parts. If you run the loop twice going in opposite directions, it feels like an entirely different trail.

Written by

Logan Waddell

Destination Distance From Downtown

42.9 miles

Difficulty

1 of 5 diamonds

Land Website

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Review

The ACE Basin has a rich history (literally and figuratively) of rice plantations and preserved woodlands. In the early 1800’s, this area was known for its extremely fertile soil on which numerous rice plantations took advantage of. By the end of the century, when rice was becoming less of a high commodity, wealthy plantation owners preserved over 350,000 acres of the basin for private hunting land. Today this land is known as the Ernest F. Hollings National Wildlife Refuge in the ACE basin, deriving its name from the Ashepoo, Combahee, and Edisto rivers, which wrap the substantial amount of land in salt marsh and maritime forest. It is no longer private, but a national wildlife refuge to which thousands of hunters, hikers, and birders travel to every year. This area is just far enough outside of Hilton Head Island and Charleston to where you’re more than likely not going to run into another soul while on the trail.

What Makes it Great There are a few notable trails in the wildlife refuge that appeal to trail runners. The most popular being the Combahee Unit. A 3 mile loop closest to the town of Hollywood, SC, about an hour northeast of Hilton Head, and in the heart of the Combahee River basin. Here you’ll run along dikes and canals onced used for planting rice, and over compacted soul, a little less sandy than that of places like Edisto Beach State Park. On a side note, if you’ve never driven from Hilton Head to Charleston via backroads, you absolutely have to do it. The portion of coastline between these two major cities is the best part of the lowcountry you’ve never heard of, and unless a five star restaurant chooses to open it’s doors in Hollywood, SC, you never will. As a matter of fact, the roads are so poor that running along them would be more of a trail run than the extremely well manicured trails found on Hilton Head.

Who’s Going to Love It Trail runners love this 3 mile loop leads you along the aforementioned rice fields of the 19th century, over canals, and through tidal wetlands. It is a moderately challenging trail, especially since it is very rarely maintained, but the best characteristic is that you do not have to go out and back like most trails in the Hilton Head Area. This trail is perfect for a shorter trail run, or if you’re looking to go further take another lap. This trail is akin to running through the jungle in some parts. If you run the loop twice going in opposite directions, it feels like an entirely different trail.

Directions/Trailhead/Regulations The trail is open from dawn to dusk year round, and there is a parking area near the entrance of the Combahee Unit Trail just outside of Hollywood. What is our number one rule for trail running in the lowcountry? Bring bug spray. Bring bug spray or be eaten alive by gnats.

Location

ACE Basin

8596 Willtown Rd Hollywood, SC 29449
Hollywood, SC, 29449
32.698534, -80.377224

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