by Julie Gyselinck
Beach vacations don’t typically bring to mind hiking as a planned activity. However, Edisto has miles of trails to explore along the beach, throughout the island, and in nearby areas. Indulge in a little wanderlust, lace up your hiking boots, and find your favorite trail!
Edisto Beach State Park
Edisto Beach State Park spans both the island and the beach. With two campgrounds, rental cabins, a boat landing, the Environmental Learning Center, and a beach, Edisto Beach State Park has a lot to offer visitors. All of these locations are accessible by trails that can be walked or biked. In total, the trails are 4.2 miles, but they are broken down into multiple shorter sections, with the longest being the Spanish Mount Trail at 1.7 miles.
The Edisto Beach State Park operates from 8 a.m.–6 p.m. daily (extended for DST) and charges admission for using the trails: $5 per adult, $3.25 per senior adult, $3 per child, 6-15 years old, and children under 5 are free.
The trails are easy to navigate. If you are hiking in the summer, bring plenty of water, bug spray, sunscreen, and a sun hat. There are multiple benches along the trails for resting if needed. The majority of the trails are shaded, and while they are well maintained, make sure to watch your step for roots acting as a trip hazard.
The longest trail is the Spanish Mount Trail, leading down to the Native American shell-mound site that was recently the subject of an extensive archeological dig. Visitors to the site can see the remains of the shell mound as well as where the dig took place. Bring your camera as there are many stunning locations and points of interest to photograph, in addition to all of the beautiful trees and flora along the trails.
If you are looking for a more extensive adventure, pack a lunch and hike from the beginning of the Spanish Mount Trail all the way to the Environmental Learning Center. The Environmental Learning Center is a great place to sit for lunch and enjoy the museum and interactive centers. There is also the Bache Monument to check out at the very end of the trail. This trip will encompass the Spanish Mount Trail (1.7 miles), the Big Bay Trail (0.4 miles), and the Bache Monument Trail (0.2 miles), making an easy 2.3-mile one-way trip. You will cross multiple bridges over the marshes and encounter stunning views from the bluff overlooking the waterways.
Bikes are also allowed on these trails. The state-park trails can be accessed from the beach by way of the Edisto Bike Trail that follows Highway 174 across the causeway, so please use caution.
If you are looking for a bigger adventure with longer trails, make the drive up Highway 174 to Botany Bay. With over 3,000 acres, they have countless trails to explore! Make sure to check their website for closings as they are closed every Tuesday for cleaning and maintenance and various days throughout the year for hunts and repairs. Botany Bay is a heritage preserve and wildlife management area. They have a driving tour that takes you around most of the historical markers, but there are miles and miles of walking trails leading to historical locations through tall pines, old-growth forests, and stunning marshes with water views.
There are multiple places to park, including on the side of the road. You can park and hike down specific trails. Pull far enough off to the side so traffic is not blocked. Parking at the beach access is great if you want to hike the far northern tip of the trails just behind the ice house. There you will see another Bache Monument, looping trails around fields growing corn and sunflowers, peeks of the beaches off in the distance, and long river and marsh views.
Dogs are not allowed on the beach or the beach trail, but they can join you on any of the other firebreak trails throughout Botany Bay. Make sure to take the map given out at the welcome station as the trails are many and winding.
If you are looking for a truly breathtaking hike off the beaten path, take the Wescott Road Trail. Park on the side of the road well out of the way. The trail is marked with a red gate preventing cars from entering. This trail is more rugged as it is less frequented by foot traffic, so make sure to prepare for this hike well. Long pants, boots, bug spray, and tick repellant, and water are requirements, especially if it's warm. Expect the scenery and landscape to change drastically and frequently along this walk. The marsh views are worth lugging your camera the whole trip. Look to encounter wildlife and countless birds on this remote trail also.
No matter what trail you choose, Botany Bay is a wonderful place to explore Edisto by foot or by bike. All of the trails allow bicycles.
Read up on Botany Bay’s rules. It is a pack-in, pack-out wildlife-management area, not a park. No drones or metal detectors are allowed. Most of the trials are bush-hogged firebreaks, so make sure you are up to a challenge or stick to the roads and well-traversed trails around the old ice house or down to the beach.
Exploring Edisto via its countless trails is an exciting adventure. Make sure to see them through the different seasons as they change drastically from spring to summer, winter, and fall. It’s hard to find yourself out of new paths to explore on Edisto, but if you do, you can check out some of the other locations open to the public near Edisto.
Roxbury Park is just outside of Edisto on Highway 174 and offers beautiful walking trails, catch-and-release fishing, and bird watching. Visit the Town of Meggett website for more details http://www.townofmeggettsc.org/ .
Farther off the island, the newest park to the area is Meggett County Park: 412 acres of well-groomed trails for hikers, bikers, and equestrians. For details and directions, find them online at Charleston County Parks and Recreation https://www.ccprc.com/3303/Meggett-County-Park .