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November beach escape: Hunting Island State Park

October 31st, 2013 12:00 am by Johnny Molloy

November beach escape: Hunting Island State Park

Hunting Island State Park is South Carolina’s largest island park and is not only a great beach destination, but also offers good hiking trails, a quality campground, cabins and one of the most beautiful lighthouses in the Southeast.
Beachfront property is expensive and in high demand these days, making ocean camping a difficult proposition is some places. Luckily, the state of South Carolina owns 4 miles of beachfront on quiet Hunting Island, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Here, campers can pitch their shelter in the main campground by the beach, or in the seclusion of walk-in tent campsites, then explore a restored historic lighthouse and the natural beauty beyond the beach, where live oak/pine/palm forests contrast with the grassy estuaries toward the mainland.
This God-given splendor attracts people from in state and from here in East Tennessee to Hunting Island. That beauty is evident in the widespread campground set along the Atlantic shoreline. Live oaks, palms and slash pines shade the oceanside sites. This is the land of the RVs, and the sites are appealing. Some are within feet of the beach. Pine needles, oak leaves and sand carpet the campsites. The rear camping area houses has thick woods and ancient wooded dunes, offering geographic relief to the otherwise level area.
A camp store is conveniently located within walking distance of all the sites. Water spigots are located at each walk-in tent area. Eight bathhouses are spread throughout the whole campground. The walk-in sites fill on holiday weekends but are available any weekday. By November, the crowds have departed, and sites are easy to get
The beach is the big draw. It drew me in. I walked to the north end of the island, then a good way south, stopping to check out the Hunting Island Lighthouse. The beacon stands tall along the preserved coastline of four miles that fronts the Atlantic Ocean here at the 5,000-acre state park, one of the largest in the South Carolina system.
The lighthouse was built in 1873. It replaced one that was built in 1859, but dismantled by the Confederates to confound Union ships offshore as they plied the shoals that mark the halfway point between Savannah, Georgia and Charleston. The lighthouse was moved to its present location in 1889, due to erosion, and was in use until 1933. The beacon attracts tourists these days.  
Besides hiking and beachcombing, other park visitors will be surf fishing or angling from the 1,120-foot pier extending into Fripp Island Inlet, in hopes of catching whiting, speckle trout, drum or flounder.
You can enjoy the maritime forest via the eight miles of trails that course through the park’s interior. One trail leads from the campground access road to the historic lighthouse area. Another path makes a 6-mile loop to the end of the island and back. The mainland side of the park features a boardwalk through an estuarine marsh and also has a wildlife viewing area.
The most appealing aspect of the park is its pristine natural state and lack of nearby commercialism and high rises. During busy times, the campground itself can seem bustling, but not compared to other beach destinations. Spring and fall are ideal times to enjoy this park, and November can be wonderful down there, so make some time to visit.
, a quality campground, cabins and one of the most beautiful lighthouses in the Southeast.
Beachfront property is expensive and in high demand these days, making ocean camping a difficult proposition is some places. Luckily, the state of South Carolina owns 4 miles of beachfront on quiet Hunting Island, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Here, campers can pitch their shelter in the main campground by the beach, or in the seclusion of walk-in tent campsites, then explore a restored historic lighthouse and the natural beauty beyond the beach, where live oak/pine/palm forests contrast with the grassy estuaries toward the mainland.
This God-given splendor attracts people from in state and from here in East Tennessee to Hunting Island. That beauty is evident in the widespread campground set along the Atlantic shoreline. Live oaks, palms and slash pines shade the oceanside sites. This is the land of the RVs, and the sites are appealing. Some are within feet of the beach. Pine needles, oak leaves and sand carpet the campsites. The rear camping area houses has thick woods and ancient wooded dunes, offering geographic relief to the otherwise level area.
A camp store is conveniently located within walking distance of all the sites. Water spigots are located at each walk-in tent area. Eight bathhouses are spread throughout the whole campground. The walk-in sites fill on holiday weekends but are available any weekday. By November, the crowds have departed, and sites are easy to get
The beach is the big draw. It drew me in. I walked to the north end of the island, then a good way south, stopping to check out the Hunting Island Lighthouse. The beacon stands tall along the preserved coastline of four miles that fronts the Atlantic Ocean here at the 5,000-acre state park, one of the largest in the South Carolina system.
The lighthouse was built in 1873. It replaced one that was built in 1859, but dismantled by the Confederates to confound Union ships offshore as they plied the shoals that mark the halfway point between Savannah, Georgia and Charleston. The lighthouse was moved to its present location in 1889, due to erosion, and was in use until 1933. The beacon attracts tourists these days.  
Besides hiking and beachcombing, other park visitors will be surf fishing or angling from the 1,120-foot pier extending into Fripp Island Inlet, in hopes of catching whiting, speckle trout, drum or flounder.
You can enjoy the maritime forest via the eight miles of trails that course through the park’s interior. One trail leads from the campground access road to the historic lighthouse area. Another path makes a 6-mile loop to the end of the island and back. The mainland side of the park features a boardwalk through an estuarine marsh and also has a wildlife viewing area.
The most appealing aspect of the park is its pristine natural state and lack of nearby commercialism and high rises. During busy times, the campground itself can seem bustling, but not compared to other beach destinations. Spring and fall are ideal times to enjoy this park, and November can be wonderful down there, so make some time to visit.

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