The rugged, 34-acre coastal Spittal Pond Nature Reserve (open sunrise to sunset daily, admission free), co-owned by the Bermuda National Trust and the government, has two entrances along South Shore Road. Both have parking lots and lead to the circuitous trail around the park, though the eastern entrance offers a more direct entry and faster access to some of the most dramatic viewing spots.
The Spittal Pond Nature Reserve is Bermuda’s premier nature reserve, a sprawling sanctuary that includes a valley cradling the large brackish pond, several freshwater ponds, and surrounding marsh and woodland through which meandering trails climb to spectacular outlooks over the South Shore.Destination:Activities:
This vast property (open sunrise to sunset daily, admission free), held largely by a private family trust but open to the public, incorporates coast and forested land from Blue Hole Park to Tom Moore’s Jungle (as Walsingham Nature Reserve is more frequently called). Of the whole area, government-owned Blue Hole Park is the only designated public park, with the best access and parking. Although each area of interest can be accessed by its respective entrance—a half mile or so apart—all are linked, so they can be explored on foot from any entry point.Destination:Activities:
South Carolina packs a lot of habitat into a small area. Here’s a green-focused trip from the beach to the mountains.
From your base in Beaufort, spend the day kayaking the inlet at Hunting Island State Park, where portions of Forrest Gump were filmed. Then enjoy the scenic beach itself, concluding with a view from the top of the lighthouse.Destination:Activities:
The humongous (over 9000 acres) Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve (803/734-3886, www.dnr.sc.gov, daily dawn–dusk, free) is one of the more impressive phenomena in the Palmetto State from a naturalist’s viewpoint, all the more special because of its location a short drive from heavily-developed Myrtle Beach.
Managed by the state, it contains an amazing 23—yes, 23—Carolina Bays, by far the largest concentration in South Carolina. (The nearby Highway 31 is named the Carolina Bays Parkway in a nod to its neighbors.)Destination:Activities:
Right across the street from Brookgreen Gardens is Huntington Beach State Park (16148 Ocean Hwy., 843/237-4440, www.southcarolinaparks.com, daily 6 a.m.–10 p.m., $5 adults, $3 ages 6–15, under 6 free), probably the best of South Carolina’s non-CCC state parks. Once a part of the same vast parcel of land owned by Archer Huntington and Anna Hunter, the state has leased from the trustees of their estate since the 1960s.Destination:Activities:
Because of its abundance of both saltwater and freshwater environments and its relatively low human density, the Lowcountry offers a stunning glimpse into the diversity and majesty of the Southeast’s bird population, both regional and migratory.Destination:Activities:
Rumored to be a hideaway for Blackbeard himself, the aptly named Hunting Island was indeed for many years a notable hunting preserve, and its abundance of wildlife holds true to this day. The island is one of the East Coast’s best birding spots and also hosts dolphins, loggerheads, alligators, and deer. However, thanks to preservation efforts by President Franklin Roosevelt and the Civilian Conservation Corps, the island is no longer for hunting but for sheer enjoyment. And enjoy it people do, to the tune of a million visitors a year.Destination:Activities:
Occupying pretty much the entire area between Beaufort and Charleston, the ACE Basin—the acronym signifies its role as the collective estuary of the Ashepoo, Combahee, and Edisto Rivers—is one of the most enriching natural experiences America has to offer. The Basin’s three core rivers, the Edisto being the largest, are the framework for a matrix of waterways criss-crossing its approximately 350,000 acres of salt marsh.Destination:Activities:
Though actually consisting of many islands and hammocks, Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge (912/652-4415, daily dawn–dusk, free) is the only part of this small but very well-managed 4,000-acre refuge that’s open to the public. Almost 70 percent of the former rice plantation is salt marsh and tidal creeks, making it a perfect microcosm for the Lowcountry as a whole, as well as a great place to kayak or canoe.Destination:Activities:
The premier birding locale in the area is the fabulous Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge (U.S. 278 East just before Hilton Head, 912/652-4415, www.fws.gov). You can see bald eagles, ibis, wood storks, painted buntings, and many more species. Birding is best in spring and fall. The refuge has several freshwater ponds that serve as wading bird rookeries. During migratory season, so many beautiful birds abound here making such a ruckus that you’ll think you wandered onto an Animal Planet shoot.Destination:Activities:
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