I visited Hunting Island State Park many times over the years. My favorite trip was when we rented a cabin there and stayed for a whole week. From the cabin we watched deer and birds and when we wanted to go to the beach we took the walk through the dunes. I think we saw a turtle there as well. Sadly, nature has taken its course and there is only one cabin left. I don’t remember how many there were before.
The erosion process is one aspect of Hunting Island State Park that makes it interesting. If you talk to people who’ve been around a while, they’ll tell of what used to be here, but is now lost to the ocean. I remember one person saying there used to be restaurant there. They’ve had to create a new entrance to the park when part of US21 was eroded away in the 1980’s.
Hunting Island got the name from when people of wealth came to the island to hunt. This was back in the 1800’s and early 1900’s. In the 1930’s it became a state park, one of the parks developed by the CCC, the Civilian Conservation Corps.
This is a barrier island and one of the few undeveloped sea islands in the lowcounrty. It features over four miles of beaches and a saltwater lagoon. An eight mile hike/bike trail takes one through the maritime forest populated with cabbage palmettos (the state tree), live oak, and slash pine. If you’re a fan of the movie Forrest Gump, the scenes in Vietnam were shot here and on Fripp Island.
Another nice trail is the .4 mile boardwalk that allows one to view a marsh. When you come at low tide you can see hundreds of tiny crabs. And check out the fishing pier and nature center scenic trail. Last time I went, a structure, I think one of the cabins, was hanging on for dear life in the surf.
One of the biggest attractions is the 19th century lighthouse. This is the only in the state open to the public and the view is worth the fee. It’s 130 feet high overlooking the island. A lighthouse was built in 1858 and reconstructed in 1875 after being destroyed in the Civil War. The new design made it easier move, disassembled and reassembled, a necessity with the islands history of erosion. It was moved to its current location in 1889.
When going up the lighthouse, be sure to read the signs that tell the history. One of my favorites is the story of the ship, The City of Savannah, which ran aground during the hurricane of 1893. The women and children were put on the lifeboats. Once ashore they waded through the flooded forest before taking shelter in the lighthouse.
The park is located at the end of US21, about 17 miles from Beaufort.
What’s Close By:
St. Helena Island (Penn Center, Chapel of Ease, and Fort Fremont)
Charleston is the destination of multiple day trips. One day isn’t enough. Even two, three days won’t do if you want to see what it has to offer.
The first permanent settlement of English colonists relocated here from the original site upriver in 1680. They named their new home Charles Town in honor of King Charles II. Today the city is located between where two rivers, the Ashley and Cooper Rivers, flow into the Atlantic. Its seaport helped the city prosper along with the surrounding plantations of rice and cotton and indigo. Today it is the second largest city in the state.
Nicknamed the Holy City, Charleston offers a variety of things to see and do and a history that includes pirates, the start of the Civil War, and one of the most powerful earthquakes to rock the United States.
A good place to start your journey is at the Charleston Visitor Center on Meeting Street. Here you can find more information of what’s to see if you haven’t planned ahead. Even if you have, it is a nice place to visit and there’s usually an exhibit. Upon leaving the visitor center, hop on a trolley and head downtown. The free trolleys usually leave about every 15-20 minutes.
If the parking lot here is full, there are parking garages further in town although I do prefer the visitor center, but then I tend to get there early.
When I visit Charleston I love to visit the Battery with its large antebellum homes facing the harbor and nearby Rainbow Row with the colorful houses. On the trips I’ve made, I’ve seen Fort Sumter, walked around the university area, and visited the aquarium. Check its website before you go as it’s a bit pricey and I only went because I had a free pass.
The last summer I visited Charleston, we toured the old part of town. Even in the muggy heat of a Carolina summer, we didn’t get too hot especially after a nice treat of ice cream from a street vendor. We walked up E. Bay Street, passed some of the oldest houses in town, and took a break on a bench under some shade at Waterfront park before strolling past the Old Slave Mart Museum, past the French Huguenot Church, St. Philips Episcopalian Church, and Circular Congregational Church, three of on over 180 churches in Charleston.
There’s something in Charleston for pretty much everyone and at a variety of fees from free to pricey. I just prefer walking around and looking and when I get tired, I hop back on the trolley (get a map so you know where the stops are) and head back to the car.
Charleston sits in the middle of the South Carolina Coast. From I95, take I26 east.
What’s Close By:
Note: This is only a short list of what you can find near Charleston.
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
Patriot’s Point Naval and Maritime Museum
Charles Pinckney National Historic Site
Hike, bike, ride a horse, or run on a trail this Saturday. There are events all over the country. To find out if there is an event near you, go to the website above and click on the green Event Search button, the one with the footprints on it. If there isn’t, find a trail and celebrate yourself with some friends. Sesquicentennial State Park has a hike that day, but since I’m on their trails several times a week, I’m heading over to Harbison State Forest to partake in their National Trails Day Celebration. See you there.