South Carolina is well known for its beaches such as Myrtle Beach, but it’s also a fine state for camping, hiking, and biking. One of the best locations for hikers and cyclists is a small destination just off of the coast called Pinckney Island. The Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge sits right beside Hilton Head Island and it’s an ideal place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds.
The biggest attractions of the park with nature lovers are the numerous nature trails that run along and through the region’s ponds and marshes. You’ll also find a wide variety of wildlife that make their home there or visit on a regular basis. In total, there are over 40 miles of adventurous trails. Some of the trails are grass and the others consist of gravel.
(photo credit: kenlund)
There are several ponds in the refuge and you can hike or cycle to most of them, such as Wood Stork, Ibis, and Osprey Ponds. If you look carefully you’ll notice that the ponds are named after different types of birds and these are the species that you’ll come across at each unique pond. In addition, you’ll also find bluebirds, gulls, and herons in the area. You may want to keep on eye where you’re walking also as there are hundreds of little crabs scurrying around in the refuge.
The terrain is quite flat and this is why it’s such an attractive place for cyclists. There aren’t really any hills that you have to pedal up. This is a bonus, especially on the gravel trails. When you’re on the island you will probably notice how the Atlantic tides can come in quickly and dry areas can quickly become flooded with the ocean water.
Seeing the park at low and high tide is quite interesting, but you need to make sure you know where you are at all times so you don’t have to cross any significant amounts of water or get stranded. It’s a good idea to keep to the trails.
If you’re going to be spending quite a bit of time on the island be aware that there aren’t any bathrooms available and there are no stores to buy supplies such as water and food. South Carolina can get quite hot during the summer so make sure you have enough water as the island is surrounded by saltwater not fresh water.
If you’re planning a visit during the summer you may want to head over early in the morning or in the evening when the sun’s not quite as hot. However, just about any time of the year is ideal for a visit and the region very rarely experiences any snow. Because there are several ponds and marshes on the island there is sometimes a problem with insects. You may want to make sure you have some effective type of repellent with you when hiking or biking. Most of the bugs come out at sunrise and sunset.
But, while the insects may bug you, there are bigger animals you’ll need to look out for, which are mainly alligators since they sometimes hang around the ponds inside of the refuge. If you keep a safe distance from them and make sure you don’t provoke them, there’s usually no problem. However, they can move pretty quickly and this is why pets aren’t allowed in the refuge. You may also come across the odd snakes as well.
The Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge is an exciting and educational destination to head to if you want to experience a change of scenery from Hilton Head. However, it’s not for everybody. It’s more suited to those who are experienced in the backwoods.