Outdoor

Marie McAden

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

Fall is perfect time to enjoy the outdoors in historic Georgetown

Posted 10/3/2013 12:18:00 PM

With the summer crowds gone and cool weather on the way, it’s the perfect time to plan a trip to historic Georgetown— especially if you love the outdoors. This coastal community offers all kinds of eco-tours and outings for every level of adventurer.

I’ve put together a three-day itinerary with some of my favorites.

Day 1: Kayaking the Waccamaw

Black River Outdoors Center offers a number of kayaking trips in the area, including one to Sandy Island Nature Preserve, the largest undeveloped fresh water island on the East Coast.

Located between the Waccamaw and Great Pee Dee rivers, this unique 9,000-acre island features pristine tidal wetlands, meandering creeks and a sandhill habitat of old-growth longleaf pine trees.

You’ll begin your trip at Wacca Wache Landing in Murrells Inlet. Depending on the water level, you may paddle along several small creeks to a small dock on Sandy Island and take a short hike into the preserve or you’ll venture into White Creek, a narrow, slow-moving waterway that winds through the island.

Both options offer paddlers the opportunity to view Sandy Island’s stunning landscape and its abundance of wildlife from otters and alligators to swallow-tailed kites and endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers. The four-hour trip costs $55.

Black River Outdoors Center offers several other paddling trips in the area. For more information or to make a reservation, click here or call (877) 360-4220.

Day 2: Hobcaw Barony

Take it easy on your second day in Georgetown and hob aboard a van for a tour of Hobcaw Barony, a 17,500-acre preserve that once served as the winter retreat of Wall Street tycoon Bernard Baruch.

In its heyday in the early 1900s, the estate played host to such notable guests as Irving Berlin, H.G. Wells, Winston Churchill and presidents Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt. The A-list of dignitaries hunted duck, deer and quail on the expansive property and enjoyed elegant dinners in the Baruch mansion overlooking the Waccamaw River.

On the three-hour tour, you’ll get an inside peek of the mansion and an overview of the history of Hobcaw Barony back when the land was part of the great Lowcountry rice empire. During the tour, you’ll also have the chance to walk around a 19th century slave village and travel a portion of the original King’s Highway.

Cost of the tour is $20. The preserve’s extensive program schedule also includes guided birding trips, fly fishing, hikes and paddling tours. For more information on any of the outings, click here or call (843) 546-4623.

Day 3: Bike the Neck

This 12-mile recreational trail runs along the historic Waccamaw Neck, a long narrow peninsula tucked between the Atlantic Ocean and the Waccamaw River.

Start at Morris Park Landing off of U.S. 17 and check out the panorama of Murrells Inlet from the overlook before you begin your ride. You’ll get another great view at the bike bridge about a mile from the park.

Just past the bridge, the trail enters the 2,500 acre Huntington Beach State Park. The paved pathway winds through the maritime forest for three glorious miles.

Pay the $4 admission charge ($3 for kids 6 to 15) and ride down to one of the best-preserved beaches in South Carolina’s upper coastal plain. Enjoy a picnic by the shore or walk out to the Murrells Inlet Jetty. At high tide, you may see red-throated loons, horned grebes or even a black guillemot.

More than 300 species of birds have been sighted in the 2,500-acre park, earning it the reputation as a birding Mecca. One of the best spots to view the avian show is along the causeway at the entrance to the park. On one side you’ll find a managed freshwater marsh impoundment; on the other tidal marshes.

Be sure to check out the Education Center before you get back on your bike for the ride back to Morris Park. It features a very cool saltwater touch tank with a small stingray.

Bike rentals are available in Georgetown and Murrells Inlet. If you want more information on Huntington Beach State Park, click here or call (843) 237-4440.