Less Traveled 2012

Ernie Wiggins

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

Planning a road trip? Pull off the road and take a hike

Posted 1/4/2012 10:05:00 AM

A lot of families are planning their winter and spring road trips now that the holidays are over. And after a few hours in the car, everybody needs a break to stretch their legs -- particularly kids.

We've scouted out a few parks close to major highways where you can get a little exercise, see some nice scenery and get back in the car rejuvenated (or, if you're with young children, hopefully they'll have worked off a little energy. Maybe they'll even need a nap...).

Here are five of our favorites:

Little Pee Dee State Park

Dillon might be most famous to travelers on Interstate 95 for South of the Border, but it's also home to Little Pee Dee State Park.

You'll enjoy the blackwaters of the Little Pee Dee River (named for the Pee Dee Indians who once lived in the area), along with a natural trail, picnic area and Lake Norton. It's located off S.C. 57 on State Park Road, 11 miles southeast of Dillon (exits 190 and 193 off I-95).

Santee State Park

Santee State Park is on Lake Marion, accessible from I-95 and I-26 in Santee Cooper Country in Orangeburg County.

The lake is a favorite for anglers, but also is popular with bird watchers, swamp lovers and boaters. It's also a beautiful spot for a walk.

From I-95, take exit 98 to S.C. 6 toward Elloree. The park is 1 mile west of the town of Santee. From I-26, take exit 136 and travel through St. Matthews on S.C. 6, about 15 miles to Elloree.

Colleton State Park

Near the south end of I-95, take a short detour to Colleton State Park in Walterboro. There is an easy nature trail, a campground and picnic shelters.

If your family likes to paddle (and you have a little extra time to spend), this is the place for you. Colleton State Park provides easy access to the Edisto River, one of the longest (and most beautiful) free-flowing blackwater rivers in the country. It also connects to Givhans Ferry State Park via 21 miles of river, and Colleton is the headquarters for the Edisto River canoe and kayak trails.

You'll find the park off I-95 at exit 68. Head east toward Charleston on S.C. 61 for three miles. Take S.C. 15 north for one-half mile. The park is on the left.

Kings Mountain State Park

Heading down I-85? Check out Kings Mountain State Park, not far from the North Carolina line in Blacksburg.

The park, in York and Cherokee counties, has a .7-mile nature trail that provides a leisurely walk. If you're looking for a little more exercise, the park has a 16-mile Kings Mountain Hiking Trail, a 1.5-mile farm trail and a 1.8 mile Ridgeline trail. The Ridgeline trail connects Kings Mountain State Park, Kings Mountain National Military Park and Crowder's Mountain State Park in North Carolina.

From I-95 northbound, take exit 2 and turn right onto S.C. 161. The park entrance is on the right.

Francis Beidler Forest

If you're heading down I-26 toward Charleston, plan a stop at the Francis Beidler Forest near Harleyville.

You'll find a 16,000-acre nature preserve with a nearly 2-mile long boardwalk through the forest.
It's a great chance to see some spectacular trees, and chances are you'll spot some wildlife along your journey.

The preserve is off Interstate 26 at exit 187 (if you're heading west) or exit 177 (if you're heading east). Once you get off the highway, follow the Biedler Forest signs.