Marie McAden



5 awesome hikes that are even better in the winter

Posted 2/10/2014 10:35:00 AM

With all the ridiculously cold weather we’ve been having this year, you’re probably ready for old man winter to pack it up and give way to spring. But consider the positive side of the season — winter is a great time to hike in the Lowcountry or most anywhere in South Carolina.

There are no bugs, no snakes and no poison ivy. The leaves are off the trees so you get a much better view of the landscape. And you won’t be sweating from the heat and humidity.

Here are five awesome hikes that are even better in the winter:

1. Awendaw Passage of the Palmetto Trail: This scenic seven-mile trail — the coastal finishing point of South Carolina’s cross-state trail system — follows Awendaw Creek through a maritime forest to the Intracoastal Waterway. Along the way, you’ll be see vast stretches of salt marsh, abandoned rice fields and a Sewee Indian shell midden dating back 3,000 to 5,000 years.

2. Hunting Island State Park: Take a leisurely stroll along a picturesque lagoon, over the marsh, through a hammock and out to a deck overlooking a tidal creek. Or hoof it through one of the state’s most beautiful maritime forests. Along with eight miles of hiking trails, the park features five miles of shoreline to explore.

3. Great Swamp Sanctuary: The 800-acre Walterboro preserve features a network of boardwalks and trails through a pristine hardwood forest and blackwater bottomland. The most historically significant of these paths follows the Colonial-era Charleston-to-Savannah Stagecoach Road still bearing the cypress remnants of long-fallen bridges.

4. Cypress Gardens: Originally part of the prosperous Dean Hall, the Moncks Corner nature preserve features three miles of walking paths that take you around the plantation’s old rice field reservoir and deep into the wooded wetlands that make up most of the 170-acre property. The extraordinarily beautiful low-lying land has been featured in 15 movies, including “The Patriot,” “Cold Mountain” and “The Notebook.”

5. Congaree National Park: More than 20 miles of trails offer visitors to the Midlands the opportunity to experience the largest remaining tract of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest in the United States. The most popular trail is the 2.4-mile Boardwalk Loop, a mystical passage that takes you beneath a canopy of towering loblolly pines, elms, hickories, maples and oaks into a primeval bald cypress and water tupelo forest.