Five ways to get out and into nature across the Myrtle Beach area this spring

spalisin@thesunnews.comApril 11, 2014 

Spring finally has sprung for real, and it might be getting close to that time to finally pack away the ice scrapers under the car seat or in the trunk until late next fall.

With Earth Day coming up April 22 and the weather warming up, check out five ways to dig into nature across the Grand Strand and Lowcountry.

Each place or park has something special in the works among many programs in the next month. Myrtle Beach State Park has its second annual “Totally Turtles!” celebration May 3, and Huntington Beach State Park has an outdoor movie showing on April 25 with “The Big Year,” a comedy about a birding competition, and another campout geared to families on May 17-18.

Across from the latter state park, Brookgreen Gardens is pumped up for its annual “Plantacular Sale” this Saturday and Sunday with greenery grown in its greenhouses and sold to visitors to being home and take root in a home garden.

Southward, Hobcaw Barony and the North Inlet-Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve have special events such as a Bellefield Plantation tour next Thursday and celebrating Earth Day April 22 with a project to build a bluebird nesting box to tote home to hang. Nature Adventures Outfitters Inc. of Awendaw also will get wild with different hikes in the Francis Marion National Forest, with several hikes planned in the next month.

So review the respective sites’ schedules and get knee deep in the nature and scenery that has helped define the S.C. landscape along the coast and inland.

Myrtle Beach State Park

Where | on U.S. 17 Business, one mile south of Ocean Boulevard/Farrow Parkway, by south city limits, across from Seagate Village

Open | 6 a.m.-10 p.m. daily

How much | $5 ages 16 and older, $3.25 S.C. seniors, $3 ages 6-15

Programs | Most in nature center (open-4:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays), and most free with park admission:

• “Sunset Meditation,” for ages 12 and older, 6:30-7:30 p.m. Friday, in Shelter B6 – bring chairs and blankets

• “ ‘Leaf’ Your Mark!” art project on fabric, 2-2:45 p.m. April 17 and 24, in Shelter B2, for $1 per artwork (exact change appreciated)

• “Beach Walk and Shell Craft,” 1-3 p.m. April 26 with Grand Strand Shell Club, at Shelter B2.

• “Plethora of Plants, 2-2:30 p.m. Tuesdays in April

• “Who’s Home?” half-mile walk to help check bird houses, 2-3 p.m. Wednesdays in April

• “A Stroll Back in Time,” for ages 10 and older, 11-11:45 a.m. Fridays in April, on pier

• “Tale of a Whale,” 11 a.m.-noon Saturdays through April

• “Feeding Time” with snake, 2-2:30 p.m. Saturdays in April

• “Urban Sea Turtle,” 2-3 p.m. Sundays through April

• “ ‘Sea’ What’s on the Menu,” aquarium feeding, 3:30-3:40 p.m. Sundays in April

• Second annual “Totally Turtles!” 10 a.m.-2 p.m. May 3, across park

Information | 238-0874 (nature center), 238-5325 (park office) or www.myrtlebeachsp.com

Huntington Beach State Park

Where | on U.S. 17, between Murrells Inlet and Litchfield Beach, across from Brookgreen Gardens

Open | 6 a.m.-10 p.m. daily

How much | $5 ages 16 and older, $3.25 S.C. seniors, $3 ages 6-15

Programs | Many for free with park admission (nature center open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays):

• Atalaya open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily for self-guided tours, for $2 extra fee ages 6 and older (also, docent tours at 2 p.m. Sundays-Fridays and noon Saturdays through October, free with admission to home), and optional 45-minute audio tour $4.

• “Coastal Kayaking,” 10 a.m.-noon Mondays through October, in guided salt-marsh tour from Oyster Landing in Murrells Inlet. $35. Register at 235-8755 by 4 p.m. the previous Sunday.

• “Feeding Frenzy,” 11-11:30 a.m. Tuesdays-Sundays in nature center.

• “Living Off the Land” guided walk,” 4-5 p.m. Tuesdays through May.

• “Secrets of the Salt Marsh,” 4-5 p.m. Wednesdays through May, from marsh boardwalk.

• “Coastal Birding,” 10-11 a.m. Wednesdays through October, from causeway parking lot.

• “Hike with a Ranger,” 2.5 miles, 2-4 p.m. Fridays through May, from North Beach parking lot.

• “Jetty Adventure,” 2.5-mile guided walk, 10 a.m.-noon Saturdays through May, but not May 17

• “Snakes and Reptiles,” 4-5 p.m. Saturdays through October (but not May 17) in nature center, for $3 extra, in advance from park store.

• “Movie in the Park,” 8 p.m. April 25 in field by Shelter 3, with “The Big Year,” a comedy from 2011 about a birding competition, starring Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson.

• “Palmetto Campout,” May 17-18, with help from park ranger to set up your own tent and share cooking and camping secrets. Other activities include crabbing, pulling a seine net and kayaking. Limited number of tents to borrow, and list of food items to being will be provided. $50 per family.

Information | 238-5325 (nature center), 237-4440 (office) or www.southcarolinaparks.com/huntingtonbeach

Also | Friends of Huntington Beach State Park: 650-6666 or www.huntingtonbeachstatepark.com

Brookgreen Gardens

Where | on U.S. 17 between Murrells Inlet and Litchfield Beach, across from Huntington Beach State Park

Open | 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m. daily for April, then back to closing at 5 p.m. as of May until mid-June

How much | Admission lasts seven days: $14 ages 13-64, $12 ages 65 and older, and $7 ages 4-12

Special programs | Many free with admission:

• “Plantacular Sale,” 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday – with plants grown in Brookgreen’s greenhouses. Brookgreen’s horticulture staff and volunteers also on hand for tips on plant selection and other gardening subjects.

• “Whispering Wings” Butterfly House, 30-minute walk-throughs, for an extra $3 ages 13 and older, $2 ages 4-12, daily through October.

• Huntington Sculpture Garden (guided) Tour, at 11 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. daily through June 6, with extra tours at 1 and 4 p.m. through April

• “Mother Nature’s Cafe” – 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. through June 6

• “Meet the Animals” – 2:30 p.m. through June 6

• Pontoon creek excursions, 11 a.m., noon, and 2 and 3 p.m. daily through November, with extra rides at 4 and 5:30 p.m. through April, each $8 ages 13 and older, and $4 ages 4-12.

• Trekker Overland Excursions, daily through November – “Northern Trek: Laurel Hill Families and Fortunes,” 11 a.m. and 12:30 and 2 p.m. daily through November, for $7 ages 13 and older, and $4 ages 6-12; and “The Oaks Plantation History and Nature Tour, 11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m., for $8 ages 13 and older, and $4 ages 4-12.

• “An Evening Under the Palmettos,” by The Friends of Brookgreen Gardens and benefiting effort to create “Waterfowl: Wings of Migration” exhibit in Brookgreen’s Lowcountry Zoo, 5:30-8:30 p.m. May 3, black tie with cocktails, Lowcountry tapas, a variety of entertainment, and silent auction, for $175 – call Friends office at 235-6018.

• “Into the Wild” lecture about butterfly conservation, noon-1 p.m. April 22

• “FrogWatch Training, noon-1:30 p.m. May 8 – reservations at 235-6016.

• “Cooking Demo: Cook Out Tips,” 4 p.m. May 23

• “Red, White, and Blue Salute to Veterans,” with flags place throughout gardens, May 24-26

• 5K/One Mile Race, 6:30 p.m. May 25, with room for 400 participants. Registration for 5K is $25 through April, $30 May 1-23, and $35 day of race; walk $15 through May 23 and $20 day of race – and each includes a one-day Brookgreen pass to enjoy at a later date.

• Art Festival, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. June 7

• “Cool Summer Evenings,” open late until 9 p.m. Wednesdays-Fridays, June 11-Aug. 8 – with creek cruises (in pirate theme on Thursdays) for extra $8 ages 13 and older, and $4 ages 4-12.

• “Wine Tasting,” 6-8 p.m. June 14, for $50 members, otherwise $65

Exhibits |

• “Equine Spirit: The Horse in American Art,” through April 20

• “Kent Ullberg: A Retrospective” (in 48 works of sculpture), May 17-Aug. 3

Information | 235-6000, 800-849-1931 or www.brookgreen.org.

Hobcaw Barony (and North Inlet-Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve)

What | 16,000-acre (25-square-mile) preserve

Owned and managed by | The Belle W. Baruch Foundation

Where | on U.S. 17, just north of Georgetown, and south of Pawleys Island and DeBordieu Colony

Discovery (welcome) Center | open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, for free

Programs | Reservations required at 546-4623:

• Barony tours, including Hobcaw House, generally 10 a.m.-noon and 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, for $20

• “Hobcaw Barony Behind the Scenes,” 1-4 p.m. April 18, and 10 a.m.-1 p.m. April 30, each $30

• Bellefield Plantation tour, 2-4 p.m. April 17, each $20

• “Birding on the Barony” tours, with Jerry Walls, a naturalist from Hemingway, 8 a.m.-1 p.m. on third Saturday monthly, including April 19 and May 17, each $35.

• “Preschool Play,” for ages 4 and younger, 10-11:30 a.m. April 19 and May 24, for $5

• “Cane Pole Fishing,” 10 a.m.-1 p.m. April 24, for $15 per pole to take home

• “The Sting on Pollinators,” for ages 5-10, 2-4 p.m. April 24, for $10

• “Catch Me if You Can,” featuring live raptors, from The Center for Birds of Prey in Awendaw (971-7474 or www.thecenterforbirdsofprey.org), 2:30-4 p.m. May 24, for $10.

• Coastal Ecology Camps, for students entering grades 2-5, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, June 3-27 and July 8-11, and June 30-July 3, for $90 per week

More information | www.hobcawbarony.org

Also | North Inlet-Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve ( www.northinlet.sc.edu) programs, on the barony; register at 904-9017 or 904-9016:

• “Touch Tank Tuesday,” 10-11 a.m. Tuesday at Hobcaw Barony Discovery Center, for $5, with room for 25 guests.

• “Career Day: Swim a mile in a marine biologist’s flippers,” 2-4 p.m. next Thursday, a presentation on careers in marine biology, including a tour of the Baruch Marine Laboratory and walk out to the salt marsh where much of field work tales place, for $5, with room for 14 participants.

• “Earth Day: Build A Bluebird’s Home Sweet Home,” 1-4 p.m. April 22, including the building of a wooden nesting box to bring home, and walk on a bluebird trail of boxes posted on site. Cost to be determined, with room for 20 participants – children younger than 10 need adult accompaniment.

‘Adventure Series’

By | Nature Adventures Outfitters Inc. of Awendaw and Mount Pleasant, in Francis Marion National Forest, on U.S. 17, south of Georgetown and McClellanville, led by Jerry Walls, a naturalist from Hemingway

What and when | Reservations required for all programs:

• “Reptiles of the Forest” 2-mile hike, 1-3:30 p.m. Saturday and May 11, and 9-11:30 a.m. May 24, from I’on Swamp Trailhead, each $40 ages 13 and older, otherwise $30.

• “Songbirds of the Swamp” 2-mile hike, 9-11:30 a.m. Saturday and May 11, from I’on Swamp Trailhead, each $40/$25, with one-hour extension each day for $5 more.

• “Where the Wild Things Are” hike through forest and abandoned rice fields, 9 a.m.-noon April 27 and May 31, from Tibwin Plantation parking lot, each $45/$30.

• “Incredible Birds of the Forest” traversing multiple ecosystems, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. May 3 and 18, from I’on Swamp Trail on bus, each $55/$35.

Information | 843-568-3222, 800-673-0679 or www.natureadventuresoutfitters.com

Also | Ark Adventures tours with Walls, such as “Wolves and Warblers Adventure, “ 8:30-11:30 a.m. April 26 in Plantersville plantations, off U.S. 701 north of Georgetown, for $30, with optional walking tour and lunch 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. of SC-CARES (www.sc-cares.org), 236 Abbeville Drive, in Choppee community, for $15 more – and other program and tour options and sites, with minimum number of people for each. 933-1372, amazinganimalsprogram.weebly.com, or email.

Contact STEVE PALISIN at 444-1764 or follow Kicks! on Twitter @MBKicks.

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