Hiking in the lowcountry is a bit different than mountain hiking but it can still be a lot of fun. Instead of seeing bears and snakes, you might see seashells, fiddler crabs…and snakes! Here are my top 5 hiking spots in the Lowcountry:
My entire family, and everyone who goes, agrees that Caw Caw is a special place. From wetlands, to rice fields, to hardwood forest and more, this low-impact wildlife preserve (no bikes, no pets) guarantees a chance to see wildlife and experience the true natural diversity of the Lowcountry. There are multiple trails, but if you want to see everything (and, I promise you do), choose the Habitat Loop (3.6 miles) to pass through all major habitats that make up the Lowcountry. Let me know if you spot an Eagle at this birding hotspot!
Now called Patriots Point, this very short and usually secluded hike takes you from a small parking lot into a dense forest, past several observation decks, finally opening up to a secluded beach filled with thousands of sea shells (including oyster), tall grass, and scurrying fiddler crabs. The best time to go is a drier day in the Fall or Winter, when the foliage isn’t as intense, the mosquitos not as daunting, and the pluff mud doesn’t sink your brand new sandals. But even if it did, the view on the beach is worth it. The entrance and parking are located across the street from the Omar Shrine Temple off Patriots Point Road in Mount Pleasant.
Even though Shem Creek is known for its waterfront spots to grab a beer and hang out with friends, or the perfect place to try out kayaking or paddle boarding, the actual boardwalk is one of the most delightful places in Charleston to take a walk. If you go in the early morning or later in the evening, you’ll get the best weather. And, if you go during low tide, you can even walk off of the boardwalk and into the marsh. You’ll always see lowcountry wildlife during a walk at Shem Creek, including dolphins breaching the water’s surface. It’s magical.
Swap Fox Passage is the longest section of the Palmetto Trail, which runs the length of the entire state, or 500 miles. This particular section of the trail lives up to its name. Although some of it has a raised boardwalk, many parts are pretty swampy and if you go after a lot of rain, you won’t be able to pass areas without soaking your shoes…and maybe your ankles. It’s also important to stay on the trail for this one…our dog sniffed out a huge copperhead nestled beneath a pine treeon our hike. Yikes! Palmetto Trail is open to hiking and backpacking, and day trips are great for picking out and hiking individual passages, like Swamp Fox Passage or Awendaw Passage. If you hike every passage, you earn a cool patch, too!
Several miles of unpaved running, walking, and biking trails make this a great place to get some exercise in a safe and natural environment. My son and I have even participated in a 5K Chocolate Run here many years ago–that’s my kind of running. Make sure to bring a hat and some sunscreen because the trails, although flanked by huge trees, get a ton of sun from above. It gets hot very quickly, so bringing a water bottle is also important.
If you have a favorite hiking spot in the Lowcountry that didn’t make our list, let us know! We are always open for a new place to take a hike!