Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge is less than a mile from Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. The Refuge consists of four islands with Pinckney being largest and the only one open to the public. It offers great water views, salt marsh, tidal creeks and fresh water ponds.
Into hiking or biking? Several trails loop the island and you can take a mile hike or go for the 7.8 miles check the Trail Guide. Of course, we came in hoping to catch a sight of an american alligator found in the freshwater ponds. No such luck this time but we really enjoyed a four mile trail stopping to take photos of the waterfowl, the tiny crawlers, wild flowers and hanging spanish moss. All while listening to the intense symphony of the cicadas.
Are you a nature photographer? I am an accidental photographer but I think this is heaven! If you have the time and patience. Birdwatchers can enjoy a wide range of migrant birds as well as local, ibis, herons and egrets among others. Ibis pond was the most active place, with so many types of birds it was hard to keep track. You definitely need a full day – sunrise to sunset – to do the entire island and enjoy its fauna and flora.
At Pinckney, you can expect your view to change from salt water marsh to mature pines and from mudflats to forest land, in the blink of an eye. We give Pinckney Island a good review with a few warnings: There is no camping permitted, pets are not allowed, and there are no restrooms or access to drinking water. In other words, plan accordingly even if this only a day trip. Happy Trails!