Forest Francis Marion Hiking Klaus LOWA National Forest Schachtner Wald Wandern

Tour: Francis Marion National Forest / Palmetto Trail Discovering the diversity of South Carolina

Moderately difficult hike
Start of the tour:
Trail entrance near Awendaw
End of the tour:
Trail entrance near Awendaw
04:15 hours
20 km
122 m
Sturdy footwear, hiking clothes
Our shoe tip:

The Palmetto Trail was estab­lished in 1994 – that is at least part of it was. More than 600 kilo­metres of the 800 kilometre trail have been completed (as at: 2022). It will connect South Carolina and national parks, historic sites from the American Revolu­tionary War, trails used by indi­genous people and cities for hikers and back­packers.

You can get a feel for the trail at the Buck Hall Recreation Area on the Atlantic coast. It is the south­eastern starting point of the Palmetto Trail. You pass by Awendaw, where the Swamp Fox Passage (the well-known hideout of the Revolu­tionary War hero Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox himself) has been integrated into the trail. You can then walk 75 kilo­metres through the Francis Marion National Forest to Lake Moultrie. This is a two- to three-day hike during which you will hardly encounter any other people at all and will find drinking water at only one site.

But there is also a shorter alternative: the approx­imately 10 kilometre hike that runs from the entrance near Awendaw to the Halfway Creek Camp­ground. The dirt path will initially take you through thick beds of reeds, some of which rise up to 3 metres into the sky. It then runs straight as an arrow for kilometre after kilometre along an old train track. The surrounding forest is brilliant green, even though the creek beds are dry as powder. You make friends with butterflies, wood­peckers, lizards, dragonflies and cobwebs as you work your way along the occa­sionally mono­tonous trail that leads through stands of ancient longleaf pines that are broken up by hardwood wetlands and swamps as well as evergreen brushwood-covered moors. Over and over again, you encounter one other tree as well: the Palmetto palm tree that the state is named after. It is a tree that makes its home near the coast or in savanna-like settings. It also tolerates flooding quite well. The trail will certainly take on a completely different character if it rains. Be sure to take the right gear with you. We feast our eyes on a tiny treasure when we reach Halfway Creek: one of the 25 Carolina bays found in the 105,000-hectare Francis Marion National Forest.