Before old man winter packs it up and gives way to spring, take advantage of the cooler temps and go hiking in South Carolina’s Lowcountry and Midlands.
This time of year, bugs, snakes and poison ivy are nary to be found. The leaves are off the trees so you get a much better view of the landscape. And you won’t be sweating from the heat and humidity.
Here are six awesome hikes that are even better in the winter:
Awendaw Passage of the Palmetto Trail
This scenic 7-mile trail—the coastal end of South Carolina’s cross-state trail system—follows Awendaw Creek through a maritime forest to the Intracoastal Waterway. Along the way, you’ll see vast stretches of salt marsh, abandoned rice fields and a Sewee Indian shell midden dating back three to five thousand years.
Congaree National Park
More than 20 miles of trails offer visitors the opportunity to venture into the largest remaining tract of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest in the United States. The most popular trail is the 2.4-mile Boardwalk Loop, a mystical passage that takes you beneath a canopy of towering loblolly pines, elms, hickories, maples and oaks into a primeval bald cypress and water tupelo forest.
Hunting Island State Park
Take a leisurely stroll along a picturesque lagoon, over the marsh, through a hammock and out to a deck overlooking a tidal creek. Or hoof it through one of the state’s most beautiful maritime forests. Along with 8 miles of hiking trails, the park features 5 miles of shoreline to explore.
St. Phillips Island
Once the beach retreat of billionaire Ted Turner, St. Phillips Island is now owned by the state and open to the public. Coastal Expeditions offers a ferry to the remote sea island, allowing you to experience the wild feel of its untouched maritime forest and explore its ancient dune system on 4 miles of trails.
Walterboro Wildlife Sanctuary
Part of the pristine ACE Basin, the 600-acre preserve features a network of boardwalks and trails through a hardwood forest and blackwater bottomland. The most historically significant of these paths follows the Colonial-era Charleston-to-Savannah Stagecoach Road still bearing the cypress remnants of long-fallen bridges.
Originally part of the prosperous Dean Hall, the Moncks Corner nature preserve features 3 miles of walking paths that take you around the plantation’s old rice field reservoir and deep into the wooded wetlands that make up most of the 170-acre property. The extraordinarily beautiful low-lying land has been featured in 15 movies, including “The Patriot”, “Cold Mountain” and “The Notebook.”