Marie McAden



Wild Weekends offer close encounters with critters

Posted 8/23/2013 4:21:00 PM

You don’t need to go on an exotic safari to enjoy a wild kingdom experience. Just take a drive to Lynches River County Park any Saturday or Sunday.

Wild Weekends offers visitors a chance to get friendly with some of the park’s native neighbors. The live animal meet-and-greets are held in the Environmental Discovery Center at 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays.

Among the stars of the show are yellow-bellied and red-eared slider turtles, an Eastern box turtle, Cope’s gray tree frog, a green tree frog and a variety of toads. But it’s a corn snake and juvenile American alligator that have earned celebrity status.

“People are fascinated with snakes, even if they’re scared of them,” said Jennifer Majors, supervisor of the Environmental Discovery Center. “And there aren’t too many opportunities to see a young alligator up close.”

At each session, a park interpreter will select an animal to be highlighted and discuss its eating habits and habitat. With the exception of the frogs, which have very sensitive skin, participants can touch any of the animals.

During your visit to the park, be sure to take a stroll on the Canopy Walk, a 147-foot nature trail that starts at the backdoor of the Environmental Discovery Center. It takes you over four sky bridges that connect to platforms built around trees. From these high perches you get a birds-eye view of the 676-acre park. The last platform overlooks the Lynches River.

Located in South Carolina’s Pee Dee region near the intersection of Interstates 95 and 20, Lynches River County Park also features a playground, splash area and several short nature trails, including the one-mile Stagecoach loop. You can start this trail on the elevated Riverwalk, which runs 1,200 feet through the river floodplain.

If you plan your visit for Sept. 7, you’ll have the opportunity to take a free guided canoe trip on the park’s namesake blackwater river. The five-mile trip — offered at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. — starts at the park’s canoe launch and runs to the boat landing at Hwy 52.

Space is limited so don’t delay in registering from the excursion. Sign-ups began Aug. 21. Call (843) 389-0550.

Lynches River County Park is open from 9 a.m. to sunset year round. The Environmental Discovery Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays. For more information, click here or call (843) 389-0550.