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Get Back to Nature at Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge

Vicki Shivers - Thursday, March 05, 2015

 With over 14 miles of trails for hiking, bicycling, wildlife viewing and photographing, Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge is a popular destination while visiting Hilton Head Island.

The 4,053 acre refuge, established in 1975, was part of the plantation of Major General Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, a prominent lawyer active in South Carolina politics from 1801 to 1815. Located 1/2 mile west of Hilton Head Island off of U.S. Highway 278, the reserve is bordered by the Skull Creek (the Intra-coastal Waterway) on the east, Mackay Creek on the west, and its northern tip faces Port Royal Sound. In fact, as you cross the main bridge onto Hilton Head Island, you actually cross over the southern tip of Pinckney Island.

The Wildlife Refuge includes Pinckney Island, Corn Island, Big and Little Harry Islands, Buzzard Island and numerous small hammocks. Almost 67% of the refuge is made up of salt marsh and tidal creeks, but it is also features forestland, brushland, fallow field and freshwater ponds. These Islands are home to a wide variety of birds and plants that are supported by the salt marsh and maritime habitat including shorebirds, waterfowl, wading birds, raptors, white-tailed deer, American alligators, herons and egrets. 

Pinckney Island, the largest island in the Wildlife Preserve, is the only one open for public use and is open from dusk to dawn each day. There are no cars allowed on Pinckney Island, but there is ample parking for your vehicle while you explore the Island via the 14 miles of trails which are perfect for walking or biking. In addition, the Island is perfect for exploration by kayaks, which are more than welcome. You will also find maps and information about the Preserve at the main entrance as well as a few portable restrooms for your convenience.


Pinckney Island Wildlife Refuge is the perfect way to spend an afternoon exploring the beautiful S.C. Lowcountry and a great opportunity to take some beautiful wildlife photos home to remind you of your day of exploration on Hilton Head Island.