Enjoy a Day at Edisto Beach State Park

By:Marie McAden

Date:12/23/2012


It’s the quiet child in the state’s family of four oceanfront parks. Edisto Bea​ch doesn’t get the attention of Myrt​le Beach, Hunting Isla​nd or Huntington Be​ach state parks. 

And that’s what makes it such a gem — it’s much easier finding take-home worthy seashells or historic fossils on the beach when you’re not sharing the 1.5 miles of shoreline with throngs of summer vacationers.

Located on Edisto Island about an hour southwest of Cha​rleston, the park sits at the edge of the ACE Basin, the largest natural reserve on the East Coast. Trails wind through a maritime forest featuring some of state’s tallest palmetto trees and salt marshes fed by beautiful tidal creeks.

Among the most popular is Spanish Mount Trail, a 1.7-mile flat pathway leading to the namesake 4,000-year-old shell midden. Once 20-feet high and covering half an acre, the shell mound has been eroded over the years and is now one-tenth that size. A wooden deck provides a perch to look at the layers of oyster, mussel and turtle shells that make up the “trash heap” left by Edisto Indians around 2000 B.C.

The much shorter Bache Trail takes you to a granite monument erected in 1850 by land surveyors measuring the U.S. coastline from Maine to the Gulf of Mexico. The baseline at Edisto — the oldest intact baseline — was the third of seven lines measured by survey director Alexander Bache, great-grandson of Benjamin Franklin. Two endpoint markers can still be found on the island.

For the most stunning views of the marsh, try the half-mile Scott Creek Trail. Boardwalks allow you to cross the wetlands and walk through a hammock visited regularly by egrets and herons.

Visitors can learn more about the Low​country ecology and the fragile resources of the ACE Basin in the Edisto Beach Environmental Learning Center. Along with interactive displays, the center offers regularly scheduled programs on a wide range of topics from fossils to erosion.

The park’s 1,255 acres is broken up into three major visitor areas — the Environmental Learning Center and Live Oak Boat Landing, the Live Oak Campground and cabin area and the day-use beach access and Beach Campground.

I recently visited the park and stayed in one of seven cabins overlooking Scott Creek. The marsh view was spectacular and the cabins were fabulous. I’ll tell you more about them in an upcoming blog.

Nine of the 44 campsites in this section of the park border the salt marsh, as do five walk-in rustic campsites. Another 54 campsites are available in the Beach Campground.

The park also features a boat ramp offering access to Big Bay Creek, picnic shelters and a playground.

Admission to the park is $5 for adults, $3 for children ages 6 to 15 and free for kids 5 and younger. For more information on Edisto Beach State Park, click h​ere or call (843) 869-2156.

Related Content

Edisto Island’s Botany Bay Preserves Plantation Landscape
If you want to see the South Carolina coast the way the settlers did, take a step back in time at Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve on Edisto Island. The preserve has miles of undeveloped, breathtaking beachfront that you’ll never forget.
Road Trip the Edisto Island National Scenic Byway
Sometimes the journey is as rewarding as the destination. The Edisto Island National Scenic Byway is a 17-mile, two-lane road on the southernmost section of S.C. 174 and takes you through a Lowcountry landscape preserved from a bygone era.
Paddle Down Horseshoe Creek
In the heart of the ACE Basin, and one of the largest undeveloped estuaries on the East Coast, Horseshoe Creek is the perfect break from the bustle of the city. Enjoy a day out of town with a relaxing paddle down the slow-moving blackwater creek.
Botany Bay: Edisto's Undeveloped Gem
Botany Bay's natural beauty served as the backdrop for films such as “Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls” and “The Patriot.” The beach at Botany Bay is more than two miles of some of the most pristine beach you will ever find.
Explore Botany Bay on Edisto Island
Botany Bay is an undisturbed, coastal habitat for a wide range of wildlife species, including loggerhead sea turtles and neotropical songbirds like the painted bunting. Enjoy a morning away exploring the beaches and enjoying the peace and quiet.
Explore South Carolina’s Aquatic Wildlife
If you’re looking for exciting, kid-friendly activities at the beach, spend some quality time catching South Carolina aquatic wildlife with the whole family.

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