On our second Hilton Head vacation I finally got a chance to explore the amazing Sea Pines Forest Preserve.
Admission is free, however visitors need $5 all day guest pass to get inside the Sea Pines Plantation.
In less than 2 hours we came close to alligators, anhingas and blue herons, and stepped back in time along the old Lawton rice fields and the prehistoric Indian shell ring.
That’s about all the outdoor trekking my 5 year old could take…so I drove to the Harbor Town playground, her favorite spot at Sea Pines.
Fun things to do and see
• Walk or bike on the historic trails through lush maritime forests and around pristine lakes. The most popular one is the 1 mile Boggy Gut board walk that takes you along an 1840 rice fields operation. Here is a detailed map along with the preserve overview.
• Admire the abundant wildlife, plants and trees. Common reptiles: alligators, snakes (copperhead, cottonmouth, black racer, Eastern King and yellow rat) and yellow-bellied turtles. The forest is a bird paradise, home or winter rest to over 200 species. Popular plants are the cat tail, saw grass, swamp willow, duck weed and marsh perry-wart.
• Fish at one of the several freshwater lakes inside the preserve. Only children can fish at Lake Joe. You can drive or walk to Fish Island. There are picnic tables, a shelter and restrooms. Permits can be for free obtained at the CSA Security Office. More info by phone at (843) 671-7170.
Organized “catch and release” fishing is provided by Sea Pines Plantation guides on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 to 10:30 AM. Fish for large mouth bass, crappie, bream and catfish with tackle provided by Shakespeare. Reservations are required, call (843) 842-1979.
• Walk around a replica of a 4,000 years old Native American ceremonial site made out of oyster shells. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Indian Shell Ring remains a mystery as no signs of permanent settlements have been found to date. Experts believe the area was used only for celebrations and hunting rituals.
Tips to know before you go
• Bring a bug spray! No see ums and mosquitoes really own the place. Apply sunscreen generously every 2 hours.
• Make sure to carry water with you, there are no water fountains around (at least none that I could see / use)
• Expect the unexpected…you never know what wildlife you may encounter. Some attractions look better on paper (like the shell ring)… while pleasant surprises pop up at every corner (we ran into a Christmas Present poem, a funny buck head like tree stomp and a baby gator)
Spend an hour with the earth and her nature
And I promise that you will surely see
The truest meaning of the season
The one best present you could receive – The Christmas Gift
Make sure to also visit the rewarding Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn plantation for nature and turtle walks, exclusive history tours and beautiful butterflies! (admission is free, donations welcome)
Here is a virtual tour of our favorite historic sites you can visit on Hilton Head Island.
Live curious in the South Carolina Lowcouuntry!
Filed under: Biking, Bird watching, Boating and Fishing, Canoe and Kayak, Carolina Beaches, Free Things to Do, Hilton Head, Hilton Head - Savannah, Historic Carolina Sites, Outdoor Activities, Parks and Gardens, Sandbox Hilton Head, Sea Pines Forest Preserve, Swimming, Walking and Jogging | Tagged: 1840 Lawton Rice Fields Lowcountry history, Buggy Gut swamp trail photos, cheap fun fishing with kids in Hilton Head, fishing with children at Lake Joe Sea Pines, Hilton Head free things to do, Hilton Head fun weekend activities, historic attractions at Sea Pines Hilton Head, Indian Shell Ring Hilton Head pictures, Native Americans South Carolina archaelogical wonders, old Lawton rice planatation, Sea Pines Forest animals birds plants pictures, Sea Pines Forest bike and walking trails, Sea Pines free things to do | 6 Comments »