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)