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Charleston SC area hikes, the best trails for walks!

View from Mount Pleasent Waterfront Memorial Park
View from Mount Pleasent Waterfront Memorial Park

For nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, the Charleston, South Carolina area provides a sanctuary of diverse hiking trails just waiting to be explored. With its rich history, stunning coastal landscapes, and unique preserved wilderness, the Charleston SC hikes offer an unparalleled experience for hikers of all levels. Get ready to lace up your boots as we take a tour of some of the most scenic and captivating hiking spots in and around the Holy City.

Charleston SC area Hikes

Sullivans Island Boardwalk and lighthouse
Sullivans Island boardwalk and lighthouse

Sullivan's Island is a favorite destination for those seeking a peaceful escape amidst beaches and maritime forests. The Nature Trail, one of the best hikes, offers a leisurely 1.7-mile stroll those winds through the shade of sprawling live oaks, palmettos, and towering pines. Visitors can take in the island's history with stops at the Revolutionary War powder magazine and Fort Moultrie. Birdwatchers flock here for sightings of coastal and migratory birds while beachcombers enjoy the unspoiled sands along the coastal inlet.

Fort Moultrie is a great place to visit for a history lover. Visit these trails while you tour the Fort Moultrie area as they are both short at .4 and .6 miles long respectively. See the cannons from the days of past battles, a beautiful beach area and harbor views. This is a great way to take in some history with a peaceful walk.

Spanish Moss hanging from old oak trees with a Sabal Palm behind it.
Spanish Moss hanging from old oak trees with a Sabal Palm behind it.

About an hour's drive from downtown Charleston, Edisto Beach State Park beckons hikers with its tranquility and breathtaking ocean views. The park is home to a network of trails that guide adventurers through dense maritime forests, swampy wetlands, and over ancient dune systems. The Edisto Interpretive Trail is a must for those seeking an easy walk, while the two-mile Live Oak Passage provides a more moderate challenge with its diverse ecosystems and local wildlife. The Edisto Nature Trail is one of my favorites, with its beautiful ocean views.

A scenic coastal paradise located just south of Edisto Island, Botany Bay is a unique blend of natural beauty and historical significance. The 6-mile loop trail takes hikers through fields of wildflowers, along shell-covered paths, and past the ruins of the historic Sea Cloud plantation. In addition to its historical points of interest, the preserve is home to a maritime forest ecosystem, stunning vistas of the Atlantic Ocean, and the sweeping tidal creeks that define the Lowcountry.

Bird of SC
Bird of SC

Nestled along the Stono River on James Island, the 1.5-mile loop trail at Fort Lamar offers a glimpse into Civil War history and the opportunity to observe local wildlife. Hikers will follow the Fort's earthen walls, once a strategic point in the defense of Charleston, before descending to lowland marshes where herons and egrets are often spotted. Nature abounds here, with native palmettos and wildflowers that paint the landscape with color throughout the year.

Daniel Island, known for its upscale residential communities and vibrant commercial districts, is also a haven for hikers. The island's network of trails weaves through wooded areas, alongside scenic marshes, and over charming wooden bridges. The 10-mile central trail system offers a mix of walking surfaces, from paved to natural paths, and provides the opportunity for sightings of deer, rabbits, and even the occasional alligator.

Just beyond the gates of Kiawah Island's luxury resorts, a series of trails showcases the island's stunning natural habitats. The Beach walker Park boardwalk trail is a popular choice, offering an easy stroll through the maritime forest to the beach, while the Captain Sam's Inlet Trail treats visitors to an active shorebird rookery. More experienced hikers may opt for the 5.6-mile Kiawah Island Trail, which provides a more secluded and immersive experience with the island's diverse flora and fauna. Did you know that Kiawah is famous for their Bobcats?

A beloved retreat for locals, James Island County Park is a sprawling expanse of greenery that offers several nature trails and even a designated bird-watching area. The 1.5-mile tidal creek trail winds through a sheltered forest, and hikers often see waterfowl, reptiles, and the occasional river otter. For those looking for a more extensive hike, the 8-mile Sequoyah Hiking Trail gives a more comprehensive view of the park's varied terrain, including creeks, lakes, and wooded glades. The James Island County Perimeter Trail is a 3.5 miles loop trail, perfect for the ease of hike, and will take only 1 hour to complete. Perfect for a spring day.

Looking for alligators in Moncks Corner at sunset
Looking for alligators in Moncks Corner at sunset

Rich in both natural and cultural history, Old Santee Canal Park in Moncks Corner is a treasure trove for hikers with an appreciation for the past. The park boasts over 4 miles of trails, including the Tailrace Canal Trail, which follows the path of America's first true canal. Dense woodlands and picnic areas overlooking the Cooper River are highlights, and the park's Interpretive Center provides further insight into the area's role in shaping the region's waterborne commerce.

Accessible only by ferry or private boat, Dewees Island is an undiscovered jewel among the Charleston barrier islands. The island's Dewees Island Nature Trail offers a 1.5-mile loop that takes hikers through diverse ecosystems, from beaches to maritime forests to freshwater ponds. The trail is unspoiled and a sight to behold, offering a unique chance to observe the natural serenity of a coastal wilderness area almost untouched by modern development.

Folly Beach SC
Folly Beach SC

Folly Beach, known for its relaxed atmosphere and vibrant community, is also home to a 1,045-acre state park with 4.5 miles of pristine coastline. The park's trail system provides an engaging walk for hikers of all skill levels, with several easy loops meandering through coastal vegetation and along the shore. The East Ashley Avenue Trailhead is a great starting point for a hike that includes bird watching, beachcombing, and dolphin sightings from the pier.

Arthur Ravenel Jr Bridge

Me walking Arthur Ravenel Jr Bridge
Me walking Arthur Ravenel Jr Bridge

This is not a typical hike, but a great run or walk. With great views of the bay at the top. Cross the Bridge from Downtown Charleston Harbor or from the park on the right after crossing the bridge in Mount Pleasant. From the Mount Pleasant Waterfront Memorial Park, is my favorite way to trek to the top of the bridge. It is an odd experience, feeling the vehicle traffic wiz by while you are walking. This is a great place for a neat view of Charleston or a way to get a great run in while visiting Charleston. This is a 5.4-mile round trip walk that is all pavement, science it is the side of the bridge. You are not allowed to walk dogs on this bridge, but you will find it nice and quiet (except for the vehicle traffic), which you are protected from while walking.

The Greenway is considered an easy walk but can still take over 4 hours to complete if you walk it all. At over 15 miles long this gives the best views of tidal creeks and swamps. This is a dog friendly walking trail that is paved for part of it, the rest is dirt. It is also popular for riding bicycles. Another point I can point out is it is handicap accessible, with the parking area near Windermere Drive having a handicap parking spot. This greenway is an excellent spot for bird watching and just being out in nature.

Fountain at Charleston Waterfront
Fountain at Charleston Waterfront

Nestled in historic downtown, surrounded by the Cooper River, waterfront and old city charm or historic buildings. This is a great place for a walk on nice concrete paths for those of you wanting more a walk instead of a hike. If you are downtown and want some nature without a lot of time to find it, do a walk of the waterfront park you will not be disappointed. At the edge of the northern part of the park you can visit the pier, take a stroll, ride a bike or just enjoy the Charleston Harbor. The choice is yours.

Awendaw Passage is the coastal end of what is known as the Palmetto Trail. The Sabal Palmetto Trees, South Carolina's state tree is the namesake for the trail and will be greet users at the Buck Hall Recreation Area Trailhead. This trail is 7.1 miles long and considered easy. Starting at the intracoastal waterway, the trail meanders westward through forests and offer sweeping views of the Lowcountry marshes along the creek. Near Walnut Grove look for the scenic overlook and boardwalk. There is even a canoe launch for those interested.

view of Marsh area near Ravenel SC
view of marsh area near Ravenel SC

With over 6 miles of trails, elevated boardwalks and historic displays this is a great place to visit, just south of Charleston on Route 17 in Ravenel SC. This was once a rice plantation with slaves on the premises. This area is now also a wildlife preserve with opportunities for seeing many types of wildlife. From birds to deer's or even alligators in the swamp areas. Admission prices are only $2 per person. Picnic shelters are located near the visitors center if interested in brining lunch for your hike.

Located at Fort Sumter not only is this a great short trail for a walk, but an area where you can learn too. You have to take the national park ferry to the island and the trail is only .3 miles, so it will only take you 5 minutes or less and it is super easy. I suggest doing this trail when visiting the island to learn about Fort Sumter because it is not worth the trip on the ferry to come back for unless visiting the fort, at least not for a little walk that this trail provides.


Isle of Palms
Isle of Palms

Charleston's surrounding hiking trails offer more than just exercise and a breath of fresh air - they present a chance to connect with the city's unique natural charm and storied past. Whether you're looking to explore Civil War fortifications, witness the rhythms of a coastal ecosystem, or simply enjoy a sunset over the Atlantic, the Charleston area offers a hike for every adventurer. Before you set out, remember to pack plenty of water, wear appropriate clothing and footwear, and always stay on marked trails to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

For those eager to take their exploration to the next level, consider joining one of the region's many nature-focused tour groups or participating in local conservation efforts. The more you put into experiencing and preserving the trails of the Lowcountry, the more you'll get out of every walk, hike, or stroll. Remember, the best way to connect with the land is to leave it better than you found it, so pick up after yourself, respect wildlife, and enjoy every step of your trek through the cradle of southern charm and natural beauty.

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Apr 22
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Great Information and pictures. Very informative. Thanks for sharing this

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