Savannah National Wildlife refuge is located just outside of Hardeeville, SC, about 22 miles or 30 minutes West of Hilton Head Island. The refuge is approximately 28,000 acres and is home to 30 miles of trail chopped full of all kinds of wildlife and breathtaking views of marsh, tidal wetlands, and maritime forest. Some interesting wildlife you’ll be lucky to see while in the area are Bald Eagles, manatees, and Storks. If you’re into watching common marine birds in this area, you’re going to have a field day at Savannah NWR. Speaking of, if you do not see at least 30 alligators, you’re probably blindfolded.
What Makes it Great This is a loop trail, and one of the longest in the area. The refuge’s proximity to Savannah and Hilton Head Island make it a popular destination, so you’re more than likely going to see a multitude of birders, backpackers, hikers, and trail runners. There is a wide range of trails, including single track, grassy trails, as well as paths anywhere from 6 to 12 feet wide, Vehicles are not allowed anywhere within the refuge except for the Laurel Hill Wildlife Drive, a 4.7 mile road that will take you along old dikes and fields from the refuge’s early days as a thriving rice plantation. There are no established campsites, and overnight camping is not allowed. At about 15 miles, the trail’s halfway point, you’ll be in the thick of Savannah NWR’s freshwater river basin. It’s extremely important to bring everything necessary with you if you plan on spending an entire day in this place. Sleep off the ground in a hammock if possible to avoid alligators, bring a mosquito net to escape the relentless bugs, and do not veer too far away from the trail. Some parts of the refuge can get a little tricky, and you do not want to get lost out there.
Directions/Trailhead/Regulations It’s easy to get to Savannah National Wildlife Refuge, It is directly in between I-95 and downtown Savannah, GA on highway 170. The visitor’s center is located in the heart of the refuge. There you can pick up maps, and get any questions answered if you arrive during their hours of operation, which are Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The refuge is an extremely popular location to hunt during deer, turkey, and duck season. Avoid making the trip altogether during the heights of these seasons to avoid a worst case scenario. Although the heat and bugs are at their worst in the summer months, this is the best time to go to avoid hunters.