Francis Marion National Forest

Hiking
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Steed Creek Bridge Swamp Fox National Recreation Trail

Francis Marion National Forest offers many opportunities to explore the woods and marshes on foot. In addition to the Swamp Fox National Recreation Trail and several interpretive trails, the two-mile Huger Loop Trail offers a short introduction to the beauty of the Forest. The trailhead is just outside the Huger Recreation Area near Moncks Corner, South Carolina.

Hiking can be strenuous in summer months because of the heat, humidity and biting insects. Be prepared with plenty of drinking water and insect repellent, or plan a visit during cooler months. Be advised of big game hunting seasons. Avoid using the trails during excessively wet periods.

Swamp Fox National Recreation Trail
This hiking and mountain biking trail runs along old railroad logging trams for much of its length. It traverses a wide array of habitats, from mature longleaf pine stands to bottomland hardwood drains and evergreen shub bogs. Hikers and mountain hikers may encounter carnivorous pitcher plants, meadow beauty flowers and orange millwort. Visitors may also spot white-tailed deer, red-cockaded woodpeckers and wild turkeys along its course.

The trail, built in 1968 by Boy Scouts, was named for Francis Marion, a Revolutionary War general. He was nicknamed the Swamp Fox because he would harass British troops and then disappear into the swamp like a fox. The Swamp Fox Trail is now part of the cross-state Palmetto Trail. When completed, the Palmetto Trail will stretch through the Lowcountry, from near McClellanville to Oconee State Park in the Upcountry. To learn more contact Palmetto Trails.

Halfway Creek Trail Campground is located 6 miles from US Highway 17. Visitors may camp in open grassy fields or shady wooded area. Hand-pump drinking water is available to trail users. There are two primitive campsites along the trail for tent camping. No water available. Buck Hall Recreation Area is located off U.S. Highway 17.

Directions: There are two trailheads. To reach the eastern trailhead, from Charleston, take U.S. Highway 17 north to Steed Creek Road (SC Route 133S) in Awendaw. Just beyond Steed Creek Road, the trailhead will be on the left.

The western trailhead is located at the Witherbee Ranger District Office. From Charleston, take U.S. Highway 17 north to SC 41, and turn left. At Huger bear left on SC 402. Travel three miles to Copperhead Road. Turn right and travel two miles to Witherbee Road. Turn right and travel two miles to District Office and parking on the right. Or from Moncks Corner, take US Highway 52 north to SC 402. Turn right and travel three miles to Witherbee Road. Turn left and travel 7 miles to the District Office parking on the right.

To reach Halfway Creek Trail Campground from Charleston, take U.S. Highway 17 north to Steed Creek Road (SC Route 133S). Turn left and drive 5 miles to Halfway Creek Road (SC Route 98S). Turn left and go a half-mile to the trail camp on the left.

Length: 27 miles

Travel time: 14 hours, walking, 7 hours biking

Difficulty level: Easy

Surface type: Unsurfaced; grassy, old railroad logging trams

Camping: Halfway Creek Trail Campground, off Halfway Creek Road (SC Route 98S). The camp has hand-pump potable water.

Safety: During temperate months, be prepared for biting insects and high temperatures. Be advised of big game hunting seasons. Avoid using the trail during excessively wet periods.

Restrictions: Hikers and mountain bikers only

Recommended seasons: Year round

Sewee Shell Mound Interpretive Trail
The mystique surrounding this 1-mile self-guided interpretive trail dates back 4,000 years. The trail begins along a shady land of trees, which opens into an area heavily influenced by the forces of nature and man. A large portion of the area is scarred by Hurricane Hugo and wildfire. It is a picture of land in recovery.

Featuring five interpretive stops and a 120-foot boardwalk overlooking a prehistoric shell ring, the trail offer breathtaking views of the salt marsh, tidal creek, and Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.

Directions: From Charleston, take US Highway 17 north to Doar Road north (SC Route 432-S). Turn right and go 2.5 miles to Salt Pond Road (FS Road 243). Turn right and go 0.5 mile to trailhead.

Length: 1 mile, loop

Travel Time: 1 hour

Difficulty Level: Easy

Surface Type: Unsurfaced, grassy

Camping: Not permitted

Safety: During temperate months, be prepared for biting insects and high temperatures. Be advised of big game hunting seasons. Avoid using the trail during excessively wet periods.

Restrictions: Hikers and day use only.

Recommended Season: Fall, winter, spring

Battery Warren Interpretive Trail
Culminating along a high bluff of the Santee River, the Battery Warren Trail traverses mixed hardwood pine forests dotted with dogwoods and leads visitors on a trip back in time to the era of the Civil War.

The trail highlights the Battery Warren, a Civil War earthen fort meant to block Union forces from moving up the Santee River. The site is eligible for the National Register of Historic Landmarks. Its name comes from Colonel Samuel Warren, who was a local revolutionary war hero and previous owner of the land where the battery is built. The embankments of the old fort are still visible today.

Directions: From Charleston, take US Highway 17 North toward McClellanville and the intersection of SC Highway 45, at the caution light. Turn left and drive 10 miles to Honey Hill. Turn right at SC Route 103S and continue for 1/2 mile to Echaw Road (F.S. Road 204). Turn onto Echaw Road and go 3 miles to F.S. Road 204A. Turn left and continue 1 mile to the trailhead.

Length: 1 mile, linear

Travel time: 1 hour

Difficulty level: Easy

Surface type: Unsurfaced, grassy

Camping: Not permitted

Safety: During temperate months, be prepared for biting insects and high temperatures. Be advised of big game hunting seasons. Avoid using the trail during excessively wet periods.

Restrictions: Hikers and day use only; no camping

Recommended season: Fall, winter, spring

I'on Swamp Interpretive Trail
A fascinating walk through a wetland world, this historic, self-guided interpretive trail traverses embankments built by humans dating back to the 1700s. The embankments and ditches were built to create a patchwork of fields or impoundments for rice production during the lucrative rice era of the lowcountry. Interpretive signs inform visitors of the history of this magnificent swamp.

With water pooling on both side of the trail, travelers will witness a wide array of wildlife from the woodduck to the yellowbelly slider turtle and the great blue heron. Alligators float in the serene pool alongside the trail, while a river otter occasionally scoots across the scenic foot path.

Directions: From Charleston, take US Highway 17 north to I'on Swamp Road (FS Road 228). Turn left and drive 2 miles to the trailhead on the left.

Length: 2 miles, loop

Travel Time: 2 hours

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Surface: Unsurfaced, grassy

Camping: Not permitted

Recommended Season: Fall, spring

Safety: During temperate months, be prepared for biting insects and high temperatures. Be aware of big game and waterfowl hunting seasons. Avoid using the trail during excessively wet periods. From December through March, a large portion of the trail may be submerged to provide habitat for waterfowl.

Restrictions: Hikers and day use only. Camping is not permitted.

Tuxbury Horse Trail
This 14-mile trail travels along old railroad logging trams, traversing a wide array of habitat types, from mature longleaf pine stand to bottomland hardwood drains.

It offers captivating scenery to visitors who may glimpse prothonotary warblers, darting among swamp cypress trees or endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers in search of food in the bark of majestic longleaf pines.

Length: 14 miles, loop

Travel Time: 4 hours by horseback

Difficulty Level: Easy

Surface Type: Unsurfaced grassy

Camping: Contact one of the offices to get a free camping permit.

Directions: There is a trailhead with parking available just off SC Hwy 41. From Charleston, Take US Hwy 17 north to the intersection of SC Hwy 41. Turn left and continue 7 miles to the trailhead on the left.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 20 Apr 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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