A beginner’s guide to safe and happy hiking
Do you ever find yourself standing on Ocean Boulevard, hearing the echos of live performers and excited tourists and think to yourself “where can I get some peace and quiet for a few hours?”
Well, once upon a time, before all of the hotels and shopping centers, much of the Grand Strand was wooded forest where alligators, a variety of birds and aquatic creatures lived in relative quiet amongst native plants.
While those days are gone for most of the developed area, there are still plenty of options to get back to the good old days and get out into the natural heritage of the Grand Strand.
First, as of April 16, North Myrtle Beach is going to have a brand new walking trail connected to the North Myrtle Beach Park and Sports Complex. The McLeod Health Seacoast Natural Trail opens at 3 p.m. on Tuesday.
The trail will be 2.5 miles long surrounded by native trees, vegetation and wildlife, according to a press release.
But if you’re looking to get even more into a forest and away from the cities, consider two of the area’s state parks: The Myrtle Beach State Park and Huntington Beach State Park.
The Myrtle Beach State Park is located on U.S. Highway 17 Business just below The Market Common. Huntington Beach is across from Brookgreen Gardens south of Murrells Inlet on Highway 17.
Both sites feature places to fish, walking trails and some of the most well-preserved seaside forests in the area.
Huntington Park in particular is a great place to see alligators relaxing in the sun or safely crossing the road.
If while on a hike you decide you miss the sea, both sites have beach access if you want to go swimming after a long day’s hike. Along the ocean, Myrtle Beach State Park has a pier included with the price of admission. Huntington Park has a jetty for folks willing to make the mile-long trek along the coast to it.
If you want to see more of Horry County than just the ocean, the Waccamaw National Wildlife Reserve is a great way to see the swamps and rivers of the area. While not on the ocean, the rivers and creek provide for plenty of waterfront fun.
While the reserve is massive in size, its address is located on Highway 701 in between Conway and Georgetown. The size of the park, reaching from Conway to Pawley’s Island, gives visitors plenty to do.
Within the nature reserve, there are a variety of different trails to hike, as well as fishing, boating and even hunting access.
In addition, the Waccamaw Nature Reserve acts to conserve the natural heritage of the area. This means visitors have a unique chance to enjoy and photograph native plants and animals alike.
Finally, the Lewis Ocean Bays Heritage Preserve on International Drive outside of Conway gives visitors the chance to see Carolina Bays up close.
Carolina Bays are unique wetland areas that form in optical shape, according to The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. They’re home to a lot of animals and plant life, including the rare Venus fly traps. Using Google Maps, people will notice that within the Heritage Preserve there are numerous of these bays withing the property.