Hiking at Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge

A few weeks ago I mentioned that while on a day trip to Hilton Head, South Carolina, I wasn’t able to hike on Pinckney Island because it isn’t dog friendly. Well, I went back.

If you’re in the Hilton Head or Bluffton area and are looking for a place to get some fresh air and peace and quiet. This is your spot.

There are miles and miles of flat, well-groomed trails. Biking around the island would be the perfect way to see all of the main points but we went in on foot. There are a lot of different routes you can take whether you’re looking to get outside for a few hours or the entire day.

This is a birdwatcher’s dream. Along our 8-mile hike we passed a number of fresh-water ponds and more types of birds than I knew existed!

There are also great views of the surrounding salt marsh, intracoastal waterways and Port Royal Sound.

As we were coming up on Starr Pond, a park volunteer gave us a heads up about an 11-foot alligator so we made sure to circle around the pond on our way back to the entrance. You can leave the trail to walk along the pond but I would highly suggest walking on the shady side because these guys love hanging out in the sun.

We visited in March and there were a ton of white Ibis coming in to nest. I completely failed at getting my camera out but this is essentially what they looked like up in the bushes and trees.

Photo Credit: Lindsay Addison/Audobon

Things to know

Difficulty: easy

Dogs allowed: no

Hours of operation: sunrise to sunset

Admission and parking: free

The next time you’re on your way to Hilton Head, keep an eye out for the small road that leads to Pinckney Island. It’s an excellent change of pace from the beach and an important sanctuary for wildlife.


2 thoughts on “Hiking at Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge

  1. Great post and beautiful photos, Casey! Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge sounds like a lovely place to visit especially for wildlife and nature lovers. I looked at their webpage and was surprised to find out that one of the animals living there is bobcat. How amazing is that? Thanks for sharing and have a good day. Aiva :) xx

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