Our Tips for Visiting the Francis Marion National Forest
While Charleston is world-famous for its history, local beaches, coastal towns and warm weather, the region’s local spots for camping and hiking are lesser known. The Francis Marion National Forest Ranger District, which abuts the northern boundary of Point Hope, is right in our backyard, and it’s just one example of the many unique nature-oriented experiences you can find throughout the Lowcountry.
The Forest is named for Colonial soldier Francis Marion, who was nicknamed “The Swamp Fox” by the British for his elusive tactics during the Revolutionary War. It encompasses 259,000 acres in total, and visitors are welcome to explore its swamps, marshes, boardwalks, educational centers and vast wilderness. With so many attractions within the property, Francis Marion provides opportunities for day trips or a full weekend of nature immersion. See our tips below for spending time in the Francis Marion National Forest:
Where To Start
At 259,000 acres, the Forest covers an expansive land mass, and access roads, trails and cultural attractions are scattered throughout Charleston and Berkeley counties. A good place to start exploring is by visiting the Seewee Visitors Center, known as the “Gateway to the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge and Francis Marion National Forest.” Here, you’ll learn about the valuable ecosystems and attractions of the forest and refuge. The center is located off Highway 17 North in Awendaw, just 17 miles from Point Hope.
Spend A Day
After visiting the Sewee Visitor’s Center, you can spend the rest of the day exploring some of the trails nearby, checking out an historic 400-year old shellring, taking a kayak tour along the coast or visiting the Center for Birds of Prey, all nearby.
If you’re interested in an overnight excursion, the Park offers campgrounds and RV camping sites in several areas. There are no cabins for rent. You can locate the designated camping areas on the Francis Marion National Forest Trail Map, or by searching online. Most of the campgrounds are available for advance reservations for those who like to plan ahead!
Dispersed camping, also known as primitive camping, is permissible in the Forest. Guests may travel via a paddle craft or hike along a path to camp in areas outside of designated campsites. A permit, which is free and simple complete, is required.
Yes! Dogs are allowed on the trails and at the campsites within the Francis Marion National Forest.
The U.S. Forest Service website includes an Interactive Map that highlights campsite locations, trails, fishing spots, picnic areas and other attractions within the Francis Marion Ranger District. The site also offers downloadable Motor Use Vehicle Maps.
The Francis Marion National Forest is a wonderful recreational resource that’s just up the road from Point Hope. Download a map, pack sunscreen, bug spray and plenty of water, and embark on an excursion to check it out!