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Pinckney Wildlife Refuge, a Hilton Head natural beauty: birds, butterflies, forests and water fun

Posted By ShoutCarolina,Date: 08.22.2012

Pinckney National Wildlife Refuge it’s a natural gem, a free, must see Hilton Head family attraction, located right off of Hwy 278 bridge. Admission is free and the park is open year round dawn to dusk.

Main trail Pinckney Island Wildlife Preserve

The very diverse ecosystem includes freshwater ponds, salt marshes and tidal creeks, pine and hardwood forests and edge shrubs. There are several easy going hiking-trails to enjoy (trails map available in the parking area). Visitors are instantly rewarded with one of the best bird watching places on the Carolina Coast.

Mackay Creek

There are many wading birds such as white ibis, egrets, wood storks, little blue herons, whimbrels and plovers, waterfowl and migratory birds such as painted bunting.

Amazing bird watching year around

Getting very close to a flock of white ibis birds

Magnificent large birds wading in the marsh

A nice surprise was the butterfly garden in front of the Ibis Pond. We say Gulf Fritillary, Queen, Cloudless Sulphur butterflies and few interesting plants.

Gulf Fritillary butterfly near Ibis Pond

Here’s the stunning flower of the Passion vine, a host plant to several butterfly species native to the Southeast (i.e. Zebra Longwing, Julia and Gulf Fritillary).

Pinckney Refuge Butterfly Garden amazing plants and flowers

Kayaking, canoeing, fishing and boating are permitted in the tidal creeks but not in the freshwater ponds.

Saltwater paddling and fishing is permitted

The maritime forest provides a much needed relief from the blazing sun. Along the trails you can enjoy seeing live oaks, loblolly pine, saw and sabal palmetto, wax myrtle, Yaupon holly and of course plenty of Spanish moss.

Enjoy a variety of trees, ponds, saltwater creeks, and animals

Beware there is no drinking water or restrooms inside the refuge. The most popular trail is around Ibis Pound (1.2 miles round trip). Here is a map with all the trails:

14 miles of trails and ponds to enjoy

More kids fun in Hilton Head:
Jump around at Island Playground indoor bounce and party house ($10)
• Play inside Sandbox, a fun hands-on children museum (best for little kids, $7)
• Learn about the island’s history and wildlife at Coastal Discovery Museum
• Tour the Harbour Town Lighthouse inside the splendid Sea Pines Plantation ($2, free with coupon)

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